Monday, July 16, 2012

What I've Learned In A Week Of Being Single

So my family has officially been gone for over a week now on their RV trip.  Before they left, I was sort of sad that I wouldn't see them for that long, but I was also joking that I'd put up the disco ball in the foyer and have fun, too.  After eight days, I've learned a lot, but I'm about ready for them to come home.  Except for the fact that my oh-so-clean house quickly won't be.

The first day, I started tackling my to do list, and it was great.  Until about 5pm when I realized that I was by myself.  And no one was coming.  I felt a little bit lonely, and I wondered how bad that would get by the end of the week.  Interestingly, that was the only time I truly felt lonely.  Apparently I packed my days with enough to do and am also practical enough that I adjusted to it.

That said, there were differences.  The first night, someone rang the doorbell at 9:38pm.  From experience, I know this is neighborhood ding dong ditchers (ugh, grow up and parents raise your children!), and usually I get irritated and sometimes go on a hunt for them.  That first night?  I grabbed my phone and cautiously moved into the office that is next to the foyer where I can see into the street.  With all the lights off, I carefully moved the blinds so that I could peer outside to see if there was any movement, prepared to call 911 if someone were trying to break into my house.  Wait, was that really me?  It's amazing how quickly your attitudes change when you're with people or alone.

I also quickly figured out that four people eat a whole lot more than just one person.  Ok, I mean - that's obvious and all, right?  But when I've been cooking for so many people for so many years, it doesn't really sink in how much less I need to make for myself.  Usually if I make a tray of bagel dogs, they're demolished the first night, with maybe enough for the wee ones to have for lunch the next day before they've completely disappeared.  If I make my avocado couscous salad, I have enough for dinner and my husband and I finish it off at lunch.  Oddly, I still have plenty of both.  I've been doing so much less cooking because the food lasts so much longer.

I've also realized that I really don't like breakfast much.  I finally am not rushing around trying to do everything for everyone else and ignoring myself - my usual excuse for having "forgotten" to eat breakfast.  Home by myself, I don't really have that excuse.  A few days, I've made a green tea smoothie for breakfast.  But really?  I don't like cereal.  I don't feel like eggs.  I'm not up for oatmeal.  So shhh, but I've been eating my bacon egg salad or those bagel dogs for breakfast most of the time.

And I rediscovered my love of to do lists.  Every night before I go to bed, and ok some mornings after I wake up, I create a list of everything I want to do that day.  The list has been long, as in thirty items long sometimes.  That happy little rush I get when I remove something from that dry erase board is awesome.  But the weird thing?  With fewer time limits, I'm amazed at how much I can get done.  There's no one interrupting me for help with anything.  I don't have my husband sitting on a chair "doing nothing" while I'm working annoying the daylights out of me.  I don't have to keep peeking at my watch to calculate how much time I have left before someone gets home or someone needs to go somewhere.

My office?  It's almost habitable.  For years, it's been the dumping ground of "I'll get to it later."  Later finally arrived.  I forgot to take a picture until I was almost done, but the top of this credenza is how the entire office looked.  The entertainment center that was put there temporarily six years ago was filled in every nook and cranny with "stuff" that needed to be dealt with at some point.  Check it out now!  The entertainment center needs to be removed from my house.  And I need to go to Costco hoping they still have that wooden open shelf unit that I plan to use to store shoes, keeping them off the ground everywhere.  And I have a couple canvases of the children that I need to hang there.  Ok ok, and that credenza needs to be dealt with, but that will go more quickly than the entertainment center (and everything on the floor in front of it) did, if only because it doesn't have a mountain of paper that needs to be filed.  I can't wait until I no longer have to tell people to close their eyes and pretend that room doesn't exist as they walk into my house.

The credenza top is filled with stuff

The office is almost cleaned out

Interestingly, although I've done things with friends most days, I've forgotten how busy we all are when we have children - and the majority of my friends have children.  They simply aren't available to hang out for a few hours on a whim.  They can't just drop everything and have dinner or go see a movie.  Many of their husbands travel, so they're locked at home during the week.  And it slowly dawns on my that this is what my life is like when my family is in town.  I have just one more day before they return and my life is one again back to normal.

If you'll excuse me, I still have just a few items remaining on my to do list for today.  But I can now cross off blog post, right?
Items that need to be done today

What do you think you'd do with a week of being single?


Patty July 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM  

So extremely productive! Go you! :)

Tara R. July 16, 2012 at 7:53 PM  

I've not been single for a whole week, but a long four-day weekend. I wasn't nearly as productive as you. I'm truly impressed.

anymommy July 16, 2012 at 8:14 PM  

It sounds heavenly. I adore lists, I might be a little bit addicted to them and finally, I am so much more nervous when I'm alone at home. See also: terrified of our basement.

Headless Mom July 16, 2012 at 8:20 PM  

Jealous! We were just talking about this last night. My husband had to come home early from vacation and he hated being here for a week without us. Me? It would be BLISS. And the cleaning would get done. I teased him because he told me that the house was "Dialed in". Uh, not quite, Mr. There was a load of towels in the family room that needed to be folded, among a dozen other things. Dialed in, my @$$.

Houseonahillorg July 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM  

Nicely done! Unfortunately, I've been not only single, but a single-mom for 13 years! Playing mom and dad because my ex ... well, you get the drift ... I can relate to this though because my 16 yr old just got his first job! He's never home!! My bf has crazy hours so now it is just me and my doggie!! Let's just say my house is REALLY clean - for now.... not sure if I'm liking this empty house or not :/

Sandra July 17, 2012 at 9:24 AM  

Go, you! How wonderful you got so much done at home! Of course you were gonna miss them, but you'll be so happy to have them back. I hope you'll hear of all kinds of stories they encountered on the trip and tell about it here!

Michelle July 17, 2012 at 9:32 AM  

Patty - I think I had to be productive to avoid losing my mind ;) It's slightly preferable, don't you think?

Tara - I think that if I had less time, I would have done less. It was the idea that I had 10 days, so I could start a huge project with the idea that I might actually finish it.

Stacey - Well, yeah. Me, too. Lists are awesome. And the basement? Ugh, the wee ones STILL won't go down there.

Kendra - My husband has been home without us, too, because of his job. Let's just say that there isn't quite so much stuff that gets done then. Or anything ;) I still have more work to finish today, but I'm feeling GOOD about what I got done :)

Dwana - Thanks! And it's different when you're single playing both parents. That's exhausting. And for me, I knew this was temporary, so it makes it much easier to deal with. When the wee ones REALLY are gone... that'll be different.

Sandra - It feels so nice to get all this done, NOT that it wasn't a goal to do it during the school year last year. Ahem. They journaled about it and took pictures, so I look forward to seeing what they tell me!

Pat July 17, 2012 at 1:30 PM  

When my husband used to be gone for a week of National Guard active duty and the kids had moved away, I'd clean all the windows, paint and/or wallpaper or stencil a room, get rid of junk, clean out and organize the garage. But I tend to put way to many things on my list and don't get to all of them. so I now put fewer things on my list, and then if I do additional things that weren't on the list, I write them down and cross them out!

Lisa Hanneman July 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM  

That sounds heavenly, but I know I have years before I have a chance to a weekend to myself. I might as well start my to-do list now, though!

Debbie July 18, 2012 at 8:06 AM  

Well - I was one of the people who had difficulty dropping everything to get together - but I'm glad we made it happen. And you crack me up with your jam-packed agenda - you know that is not new, right? Ever since I've known you and that's a looooong time, you have had a list. As I know you know, you are so lucky to have a good husband and two beautiful children. And I can tell you did miss them! Having a clean and organized house can be overrated at times, but it is nice you made a dent in the chaos. Now you know why I have the dog to keep me company when my daughter is away at her dad's! Talk soon...

Michelle July 18, 2012 at 10:44 AM  

Pat - Wow, that's a lot of work. I'm impressed! I'm with you on needing to put fewer things on my list AND adding and crossing off "extra" items I do!

Lisa - It was nice. I missed them, but it was so nice to have some time to myself to do what I needed and wanted to do. I'm glad they're home again now though!

Debbie - You were, but you did it :) And I'm glad it worked out. I will say that the cats helped hang out with me, which was nice. But you're right, I do love my lists. And long ones. And jam-packed agendas.

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