I’ve been a mom for over 10 years. If you’re a mom, then you know what I really mean by that is that I’ve had an audience and running commentary on my every move for over a decade. I might as well have set up bleachers in the bathroom for my adoring fans to keep me company over the years. When I was 25 I couldn’t have fathomed – let alone tolerated – that type of togetherness. But at age 38 that is exactly how I like it, and to step outside of this familiar life is a journey into the twilight zone, a realization that hit me recently on a work trip.
I learned a few things being away by myself for three days.
I text my husband everything.
The mundane, the meaningful, the utterly ridiculous. All day long. True, there’s nothing left to talk about at dinner time, but at least he knows if it’s raining at my office, what I ate for lunch, who’s out sick at work, and how many steps are on my FitBit. Being 1,300 miles away by myself completely magnifies this habit. So many new things to text about!
Freedom is covered in chocolate.
Somewhere along the line, being alone started to mean indulging my sweet tooth. No earnest eyes evaluating my vegetable intake. No impressionable minds to mold into healthy eaters. Just treats, from airport to hotel to airport. Pastries! Lattes! Cookies! Candy bars!
I cannot sit still.
I used to be able to sit still. Heck, before kids I used to sleep until noon, eat brunch, see a movie, and go back to sleep. For a long time after I had kids I chased the elusive idea of having down time to do whatever I wanted. Turns out what I really want to do is to get s*#t done. Hotel room with maid service?! Unproductive!
I think I might be a real grown up.
You might be thinking, “Well yeah, she’s 38.” I don’t feel grown up most of the time, though, and often I don’t even want to be grown up. But when I have the time, space, and opportunity I do things that surprise me, like willingly – even happily – go the gym. Like make friends with my taxi driver Renée from Venezuela via Spain, France, and Haiti who also has an 8-going-on-18-year-old daughter. Like choose yogurt from the breakfast buffet instead of croissants.
Being alone somehow allows a longer view, both back and forward in time.
It provides a reminder that there’s a whole other world out there. But it also reinforces that the center of that world for me is at home with my family.