One time I told Mark that one of the best gifts I could have would be a week to myself at home...no kids. (Really, having him here would be a gift too but there aren't many people lining up to keep four kids for us :)
A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, Mark asked if I wanted the kids with me on Mother's Day. I asked him where they would be. He mentioned that he thought he might take them somewhere for the weekend unless I really wanted them home. I assured him that I would be fine. Deep down, I was doing cartwheels in my mind...eager with excitement!
Now I want to preface all of this with the comment that I LOVE my kids. We spend a LOT of time together. And obviously I love being a mom because I have chosen to do it four times, the last two more of a choice than ever. But there are a couple of things you should know. One thing is that there are times I REALLY like being alone. In college, when I lived in the dorm (the second college), I had a private room. I loved it. I could socialize and hang out with friends, but then I could go back to my room and just enjoy the quiet. I know, kind of ironic, since I have chosen teaching and motherhood as professions. Not quiet. But I still enjoy it. I am not saying I would want to live alone all of the time. But sometimes it is just nice to have. I type this at the same time as a little boy having a major temper tantrum next to me.
The other thing is the state of the house. It is not what I would want it to be. I remember my mom telling me once to use the time (pre-kids) to organize because it would be difficult once we had children. And I should have heeded that. Of course, it is because we have children that life became chaos. Clothes, toys, school papers...and nobody ever puts things back where they go. I like organized. I really do. I know if you saw my house you would find that hard to believe. I truly want things organized. It gives me a sense of peace and calm. Unfortunately, with kids, I rarely get to do things like organize. I mean, the youngest alone is like a tornado. If I tried to empty a closet, he would find "new toys" and have them all over the house. And most days, after teaching and mothering, I am tired by the time everyone is in bed and have no energy to do anything else.
One day this week, when Mark was gone, he teasingly mentioned on Facebook that maybe this wasn't the best weekend since I missed him so much. And at times I wondered. I was so tired from staying up later while he was gone, from the wear and tear of being a single mom, and from school. Maybe it wasn't the best weekend. But in the end, I decided to go for it.
So Friday afternoon, as soon as he was able, Mark came home. He packed up the kids (with a little help from me). I tried really hard to not smile when one sweet child said, "Mom, you are going to be so sad. We are all going to be gone and nobody will be here with you." I just bit my tongue. :) A little later, I heard the oldest talking to his friend from across the street. I heard him saying, "Sorry, I can't play. We are going to a hotel so Mom can have some peace and quiet this weekend. "
One of the funny things was the reaction I got from others. Some said it sounded neat. A couple friends told me I shouldn't do anything "work" but only fun stuff. I assured them I WANTED to work, that was the whole point. Otherwise I would be the one to check into a hotel if I just wanted to do fun stuff with no kids. :) And someone said that by Saturday I would be ready for everyone to come home. I realize I may just be weird...I do love my family but I knew I would NOT be ready at that point. In fact, at first Mark had talked about coming home Saturday night and I assured him that it would be even better if he waited another day. :)
Anyway, finally Mark and the crew loaded up and headed a town away to a hotel. I will admit, for a little bit, I did nothing; I just enjoyed being home by myself. Then I ventured out to Target and enjoyed just wandering and shopping. I then picked up some dinner from Shoguns (I am hooked on their Shrimp Tempura rolls), and went home to eat. I just read the paper while I ate and enjoyed the quiet. I really did. It was a treat to have nobody demanding their milk or dinner, not answering a single question, not playing the "What If?" game, etc.
After I ate, I turned on the music and got to work. I tackled several bags I had been "stuffing" stuff in every time our house was going to be cleaned. It was mainly paperwork. Receipts, magazines, old mail. A lot of stuff that just needed a home. I had piles all over the place and was beginning to wonder if I was cleaning or doing more damage. :) I was determined to find homes though for everything. One of the hardest parts for me is that I tend to be a bit ADD when I am cleaning. I go to another room to put something away, see something that really needs to be done, and before long I have forgotten what I was doing originally. I finally had to just tell myself, if it was an area I had cleaned, then I would put whatever it was away. If it wasn't, I would just drop off whatever I had for that room and leave it for when I could get to it. Does that make sense? I did tell myself that if I found something easy to fix in a room, I could do that. :) And yes, I occasionally have conversations with myself. I also managed to exercise. I finally drifted off to sleep around 2:30. I know, crazy, but it is actually more my body rhythm. Even better, I woke up at 9:30 on my own...nobody woke me up before I was ready. :)
Saturday I started off a little slow but quickly picked up the pace. I had so many projects I wanted to do but finally had in mind a plan. I had to come to the point that I knew that I wouldn't get to do all I wanted. But if I could at least get a few things done, maybe it would help keep me motivated throughout the summer to do things when I could. I also kept a list going of little things I saw so later when I think, "What can I do?" (not that it happens often), I would know.
I started with the laundry room. It tends to be a "catch all" since it is right by the garage. We come in and drop off nonessentials there. It is also not a big room so it doesn't take much to make it look cluttered. I started off just trying to clear out some of the bags that had collected. However, when I peeked inside the cabinets, I decided, "I really should deal with those too." I wish I had taken before/after pictures, but Mark had the camera. Plus, I think I would have been embarrassed to show the "befores". I will say that the after is a remarkable difference. The room looks much bigger to me now. And I am happy knowing that the cabinets are more organized. Usually if I can get something to a state of organized, we will work harder to keep it that way. I cannot account for the kids, but they really don't go in there much anyway. I even vacuumed ON TOP of the cabinets. They were sure dusty! The laundry room alone ended up taking me about two hours!
Next, I tackled the kitchen. I decided that a lot of my shelf liners needed to be cleaned. I can never understand how they get so dirty when they are inside cabinets. It isn't like we put dirty dishes back in the cabinet. It is a mystery to me. Anyway, so to clean the shelf liners, I had to take everything out of the cabinets. The counters were overflowing with silverware, dishes, pots, etc. Again, I was beginning to think I was making more of a mess than helping. :) I got the liners of the major shelves in need and threw them in the washing machine. Oh, and I took a long bath with a fun magazine in the meantime...I didn't say I wouldn't allow myself ANY relaxing. :)
Afterwards, I decided to venture out. I went to Kohls to do a little clothes shopping. As usual, I tried on a lot of things but only found a few (very few) that really appealed to me. Clothes shopping is so hard for me. I really want some new things. I wear the same clothes for years. But between my body (not liking it), my height (hard to find something for short people), and my modesty (I really do have a desire for modesty, believe it or not :), it is really tough. I did find a few things though.
After Kohls, I went by a local restaurant and picked up some lettuce wraps and a little dessert. While I ate dinner, I had a phone call from a friend. It was a treat to talk to someone without the constant interruptions I get during most phone conversations. Also, at one point, Mark stopped by to pick up a few things he needed. I left them by the door for him, but when he showed up, I ran to the door to give him a little kiss. I really hadn't seen much of him in a week. I was missing him. :)
Afterwards, I got back to putting the kitchen back together. I cleared out a thing or two we don't really use anymore. Even better, I finally found a home for the large electric griddle I had gotten Mark for V-Day. It has been sitting on our counter this whole time. It takes up a lot of room, so finding a spot for it was no easy task. I then cleared out a bit of the pantry, did a quick sweep of the toy room, and vacuumed here and there. I also organized the entertainment center (DVD's, games) which was not in my plan. We are getting our new furniture for our Panasonic Living In HD goodies this week, so I planned on waiting. However, I went to do a little Wii Fit for my exercise and could not find it anywhere. I used the elliptical to get my time in, then went back to organize. It was much needed. All in all, it was 3:30 before I went to bed. I wasn't even truly tired then but knew I needed some sleep. And I did. I didn't wake up until 11:00ish.
After a light breakfast, I took a little time to organize Joshua's room. I also started the dining room (which for now is the current home of winter clothes that need to go SOMEWHERE) and just for fun, goofed on the computer for a while. I didn't get a whole lot accomplished today. At one point, I just kind of gave up. I knew my crew would be coming home for afternoon naps and most projects would take longer than the time I had available.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. I really did enjoy the peace and quiet and even more, just the opportunity to get some things taken care of. I don't feel quite as overwhelmed with life (at least not at this moment) nor like I am drowning in "stuff". It was one of the greatest gifts Mark has given me...the gift of time.