You have to be careful what you wish for. Like most mothers I constantly crave “Me Time”. Whether it be a bath or a VAT return, I just want some quiet time to get it done. My need to be alone is a constant source of aggravation in our house and is, of course, completely misunderstood. Let me be clear: a supermarket run sans children does not count as Me Time. Neither is it retail therapy, but my husband can’t see this.
Realising that I was close to breaking point, my husband (who is Czech) offered to take our son to see his parents for the half-term holiday. Bliss! I was going to get seven days on my own. 168 hours all to myself. 10,080 minutes to indulge in whatever I fancied on any particular day. Generosity on this scale is a rarity in our house, so I agreed before he could change his mind. I could not have packed their bags any quicker. As I waved them off a grin crept across my face. I felt like a teenager whose parents had left her home alone for the first time.
What to do? There was a pile of ironing with my name on it, a dishwasher screaming for some attention and a pile of dirty school uniforms waiting to be addressed, but for the first time in forever I ignored it all, poured a glass of wine, put the iPod on and danced around the living room. It was a party for one – but the best party I’ve been to in ages.
The next morning I was late out of bed as my two-legged alarm clock was vacationing and I haven’t set a real alarm clock in years. I forgot to have breakfast because, as I was not making it for anyone else, I forgot it even existed. I watched 10 minutes of the news rather than Fireman Sam; then I left the house. As I got to work I realised that I was EARLY! What a strange feeling: I haven’t been early for anything for five years. I literally had no idea what to do with myself. I found my way to Costa Coffee, ordered a beverage, sat down (a unique experience in itself) and started people-watching – my pre-children favourite pastime.
My day went without drama but at 3 o’clock, as a matter of habit, I started to put on my coat and get ready to leave, only to be reminded by a colleague that for this week at least there was no school run. My afternoon was my own. I really am brainwashed into a routine. That evening I got home and the house was tidy, just as I’d left it. No toys on the floor or shoes in the middle of the living room. I made dinner because all the food I had bought was still in the fridge. No one had pinched vital ingredients for a sandwich. It was all just as I had wanted. It was what I had been nagging for for so long. But I didn’t like it.
It was too quiet. It was lonely and I realised that while an odd day off may be nice, I love having my boys at home, even with their mess and clutter. In fact, it’s the Lego on the carpet and the slippers under the coffee table that make it home. I couldn’t wait for them to come back.
Not that I would tell them, of course. I might need them to do it again one day.
Laura Jandac forgot what time to herself felt like. Then she had the house entirely to herself at HALF-TERM. But was it as blissful as she had expected?