Fifteen years ago, life without kids was a whole other world. There were girls’ nights out, dinner with friends, drinks at your place. Maybe even SHOPPING that did not include groceries.
Movies with your partner or even attending sporting events or concerts. But moms, you know what I mean. We had LIVES and we liked to live them. Pursue them even.
But now, as parents, those moments of free time that happen so rarely upon us are confusing.
We mentally think they are going to be amazing. When in truth, we have no idea what to really do with ourselves.
Depending on your family life at home, the amount of free time that you have for yourself may vary anywhere from five minutes a day to five days a week. To some moms, that free time may just be an amazing trip to the bathroom alone.
Or the full nights sleep you get because each of your children stayed in bed all night.
But to other moms, that free time stretches beyond the norm and we are left with days, sometimes weeks, of free time that we try to fill with productivity and enjoyment.
Some of you moms may be thinking, “That would be amazing right now!” and asking yourself how one could get so lucky.
Yeah – it’s not luck. It’s called divorce.
And when you are divorced, you end up with all kinds of kid-free time that you never expected or prepared for.
Sometimes it’s minimal. A day here, a day there. Manageable to the point where you do not really HAVE time to plan anything or get much done before they are back again.
And then you have the divorced families of kids who do the one week on, one week off deal. Believe me, if someone had told me three years ago that I would be doing this with my boys today I would have laughed hysterically in their face. But here we are.
I am officially without my kids every other week. And I have not celebrated the free time even once.
I am the least productive when my kids are gone.
I get nowhere with the mental list of things I want to accomplish. I cannot write well. I tend to eat like a college fraternity student. And I spend way too much time conversing with my dog.
Don’t get my wrong, I love her dearly. But she rarely has anything to say and she is constantly leaving me slobbering spots to clean up off my furniture.
I would rather be yelling at my boys to get their showers done or turn down their YouTube crap.
I cannot tell you how many nights I come home, during my “free” weeks, and just stand in my kitchen trying to think of what I want to do first.
I have a huge list in my head of what I NEED to do. But it never seems to happen.
The truth for all of us, as moms, is that we dream of these moments of free time and what life will be like when they come our way.
Then when they do, we have no idea what to do with them. We have drafted our entire lives around our children since the day they were born and anything outside of that draft is confusing and sometimes even depressing.
How many times have you planned for an exciting Saturday night out with your husband, only to be disappointed that you could not enjoy it because you missed the kids, or all you did was TALK about kids?
You spent the day getting all gussied up, you put on new underwear (or at least the best pair without holes!), you spent forever doing your hair and makeup so you would be completely “selfie-worthy” leaving the house.
Yes! No kids! Momma’s going to live it up tonight and have some fun!
But your dinner conversation revolves around homework problems, sport schedules, and funny things your kids did that week and before you know it, you are tired and calling it a night because, shoot, you just remembered you wanted to watch another episode of your favorite show on Netflix and it is getting late.
Plus, the kids are probably missing you so you should probably cut it short and forgot about that drink.
Free time as a parent really means nothing once you get past the first hour.
You want it to – but it does not. This past week when my children left with their father, I had a huge list of things I wanted to do for myself. Not for my house, not for my family. For ME.
I had grand ideas for getting my calendar organized with all my Facebook group topics and meetings for the next month. Listing all the people I needed to reach out to and discuss interviews or collaborations.
But, my calendar is empty, and I have now been home about 5 days without children.
I have written nothing for all the pages I am supposed to submit to, ignored my own blog, and not even touched the laundry that needs to be folded. I have gone to work, played with the dog, and gotten way too caught up in that whole “YOU” show on Netflix (anyone else not totally convinced he is actually a bad guy?).
My point is, when you are a mom, all you ever want is a minute to yourself.
Some peace and quiet. Someone to just take the kids out of your hair so you can think straight or get something done.
But when they do, we realize we are no better without our children than we were when they were home, running through the house, asking for food every half hour, and managing to get in your face as soon as you start a new task.
Life without kids around never feels right to me – and maybe I am the latter of the opinion on that.
I have realized over the last three years just how much I need my kids to get by.
They drive me nuts, but they also keep me sane. They destroy my house and cost a fortune to feed, but they keep me going and inspire me every day to do what I need to do to be the best mom and woman I can.
When they are gone, I feel like I have no idea what to do with myself. My focus always shifts to wondering what they are up to, or if they need anything from me.
Maybe I should just call them one more time tonight. They won’t care, right?
Of course, I close the door and take a sigh a deep breath of relief every other week when they leave – I survived my time!
But 5 minutes later I am lost without them. I cannot imagine that feeling of loneliness changes much as they get older and move on.
I love my husband dearly, and I always look forward to whatever time we do get together. But I can safely and honestly tell you that neither one of us enjoys that time together as much as we do when it involves our boys.
The emptiness and quietness of our house when we are “free” for a week does nothing for us except let us go to sleep as early as we want and give us a break from the grocery bill.
Personally, this mom would rather be paying for groceries.