After taking Sena to go see my school's fall performance, my mom ushered my kids away for a week at the beach, leaving Tom and I with an empty house on Saturday morning. And we spent the next few hours cleaning the house, drinking coffee, and generally relishing the absence of any sort of rushing or responsibility. We were just two grown-ups with only ourselves to look after.
My mom takes my kids away for week long stretches to Ocracoke with more regularity than I might actually prefer. The time they spend away from me always leaves me feeling a little guilty and then a little empty. But the first two days are usually wonderful, and this weekend was no exception.
Tom and I spent a whole lot of time just the two of us, which rarely happens. Even when the kids do go away, we usually surround ourselves with friends. We plan all sorts of social things to do, the sorts of things not conducive to kids and families. But this weekend we didn't do those things. This weekend we went to an architectural salvage yard, bought old doors, and spent hours and hours on our back porch stripping them of years of paint.
We interspersed our project with lots of long walks, a late night Rushmore viewing, and a couple of pints of gelato, but mostly, we just worked side by side. It was pleasant and peaceful and exactly the sort of thing young me thought boring adults did. Turns out, I'm just another boring adult. A perfectly content, boring adult.
Yesterday afternoon, the excitement of time alone started to wear out when I heard the neighbor kids all running around playing. I wanted my kids to be in the mix. I wanted them to bombard the porch, hungry for dinner and eager to tell tales. I wanted to watch an episode of The Wonder Years with them more than I wanted to watch the episode of Breaking Bad we ultimately indulged in.
I miss them. I would rather that they were here with me, but I am also glad I get to spend time alone with Tom. When I was pregnant with Sena, I watched a lot of Oprah. So much Oprah that I have never felt the need to watch another episode since Sena's birth. I distinctly remember an episode with Muffy Mead- ferro, who wrote Confessions of a Slacker Mom. The book stirred up some controversy because Mead-ferro professed to love her husband more than her children. At the time, I was completely befuddled. I wasn't sure what the love of a mother was going to be like, but I assumed it had to be pretty damn intense. Furthermore, my relationship with Tom was a little unsettled. I just couldn't really imagine where I would ever stand on the issue.
Ten years later, I'm not sure that I agree with her on that point, although Confessions was one of my favorite books for a long time. I lent it out to so many different people, I don't know whatever became of my copy. But I will say that I am glad that I can enjoy spending hours on end with Tom, and we don't spend it all discussing our kids. We talk about things and make plans and try to make each other laugh. Although we got married because of a kid, we stay married because of each other.