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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The empty house

For dinner, I ate the untouched peanut butter & banana sandwich my son removed from his lunchbox when he got home from school today. The kids went off to their dad’s house before dinner, so it was just me and that peanut butter sandwich.

You see, I’m a little disoriented. I always have my kids Tuesday through Saturday, but we swapped some days here and there over the holidays and now my kids are gone for a whole week. Their departure happened to coincide with the week my significant other is away on business. After I hugged my kids good-bye and locked the door behind them, I realized it was going to be just me all week. That hasn't happened in a long, long time. Not surprisingly, the silence, solitude, and lack of any plans reminded me of when I first moved out of the big house and into my own place as a single girl nearly three years ago. It was lonely and quiet and there were many long, restless nights. I often went to the movies or to the cafĂ© as an avoidance tactic.

But tonight, I didn’t want to hide in a crowd, lose myself in some Hollywood tale, or need any avoidance tactics. I looked around my house at the photographs I’ve taken and blown up. I looked at the pastel drawing I’ve framed. I looked at all the kids’ art that decorates the rooms they call home four nights a week. I looked at pictures of my kids and thought about how I’m a much better parent than I used to be. And not just because when they sleep at my house I read to them for those crucial twenty minutes. Rather, I don't need to escape the way I used to. I looked forward to being in my quiet house with nothing to distract me from my unpublished book that needs polishing and some stories I’m supposed to read and critique for the writing group I recently joined. But even if I didn't have those things, I would have been content all alone at home.

I don’t need distractions anymore. I actually like my life. I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished the person and mother I’ve become. I knew all of this, but it became that much clearer once all of my favorite people were away at the same time.

It also became clear that I need to do a better job making dinner for a party of one.