Last week, the elementary and secondary schools here were closed for winter vacation. My husband took the week off and took the three boys out of town, leaving me alone for the week. So I had the whole house to myself for a week.
I had wondered how it would be to stay alone. I can think of only two nights in my life when I’ve slept in a house by myself. I’ve never lived by myself. Or had a room to myself. In fact, for most of my life, I have lived with a whole crowd of people, usually jammed into a fairly small house.
How strange it felt to go to the grocery cart and buy food only for myself. Instead of loading five gallons of milk into the cart, I bought one quart of soy milk. The cart seemed empty. Perhaps the strangest thing was that when I returned from the grocery store, my house was still as clean as when I had left. The house stayed clean – and I mean company level clean -- the whole week.
It was funny at first to be by myself, to make decisions on what I felt like doing without considering anyone else. I had so much time on my hands. No driving kids to music lessons, no cleaning up after everyone, no putting anyone to bed.
I had planned all kinds of nice things for myself – having friends over, eating dinner at my parents’ one night, having my daughter over one night, taking a bunch of our extra kids snowboarding – so it felt like a vacation week. And even with all my plans, I still had lots of time to just be alone in the empty house.
What I discovered is that I liked being by myself, having the freedom to spend my time any way I chose. I liked having the house clean and quiet for a week. I liked just sitting by the fire with my laptop and a snack, working with no interruptions at all. How nice not to be interrupted.
Of course, by the end of the week, I had had enough alone time. I missed my kids, my husband, the noise and confusion, the warmth and affection and teasing. I would make a terrible hermit. I am too much of an extrovert. I was happy to have my family return. A week was enough.
But I am thinking that having a week to myself every winter might be a tradition we will continue.