Alone at last. No kids.
Its funny, both our daughters kept asking us what we were going to DO once they both left for school, as if we were going to turn to dust when they walked out the door. And we kept telling them that we did actually have a life before they came along and sucked every ounce of energy, every second of time, and every nickle of money out of us. We used to go out all the time. We’d go to the movies and out to dinner. We did projects and played golf. Went away on weekends and took beautiful Carribean vacations. Had noisy, sloppy sex, when and where ever we wanted to. Okay, we didn’t tell them that last bit, but we did have a life in what we lovingly came to reminisce about - Our Life, BC. Life, Before Children.
We are now facing Life, After Children. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but these are the biggest differences I’ve noticed.
Grocery shopping. I used to do the “big” shopping once a week. And then I would go to the store every single day for a gallon of milk and more fruit and whatever else sprang up. Not only did we feed two athletes with very healthy appetites, but we also fed whatever “3rd daughter” who seemed to have moved in, and all their friends/teammates who went through the kitchen like locusts. Now, I speed through the market, ignoring the snack aisle, zooming past the Gatorade, juice boxes and endless cereal. I am learning how to shop small. Savings in time: 1.5 hours a week.
Laundry. If I didn’t do two loads of laundry a day, someone would be yelling at me. “Where’s my uniform? I NEED my uniform! God, mom, I put it in the laundry hours ago!!!” (Although it was usually still stuffed in a gym bag.) Now I go to collect the laundry from only one hamper. It’s hardly worth carrying down stairs. And folding the laundry is a breeze. No more having to figure out whose thong is whose by trying to read the tiny tag that was sometimes bigger than the underwear itself. No mistaking putting a shirt in the wrong pile and having World War III break out because “someone” wore “someone else’s” shirt to school because it was in their pile. I think I will be able to laundry only twice a week now and folding it is a breeze - if it’s not mine, it’s Martha’s. Easy. Savings in time: 3 hours a week
School activities. Once the girls had their licences and their own car, we saved a considerable amount of time in taxi services. However, we still attended all their games, conferences, banquets, award things, etc. Savings in time: 6 - 10 hours a week.
Miscellaneous. All those little things - errands, listening to the latest boyfriend dilemma, making lunches, mending clothes, helping with homework/school projects, finding lost cell phones, repairing computer crashes, etc. Savings in time: 6 hours a week.
Wow, that’s a lot of time to gain. Almost three working days. What do childless people do with all this time?
Because Martha and I both work during the day and are very involved in volunteer and community activities in the evenings, we really won’t see a change in our schedules. The biggest change is that 4 - 7 pm block where we were usually at some athletic activity before heading to our own stuff.
It’s nice actually, I come home from work and we cook together. Okay, she cooks. I try to be helpful by getting the stuff she asks for or chopping something. We sit at the table and chat while we eat. (I absolutely refuse to eat in front of the TV) We take the dog for a walk and then go off to our other commitments.
We had been concerned that once the girls were gone we would have nothing to say to each other. But we are finding just the opposite. Martha and I can now have a conversation without any interruptions. We are still amazed. We can speak in complete sentences . . . about any topic . . . and actually finish an idea. We keep laughing at this, giddy with our new powers.
We are going to try and reserve one night a week that we will both keep free to spend together. Date night. Tonight we are taking a class at the gym, but maybe just dinner and a movie or some other entertainment.
This is not to say that we don’t miss the girls. I am still getting teary when I pass their empty bedrooms. I hate not being able to hug them morning and night. I miss hearing that “love you mom” as they ran out the door, hoping to sneak some inappropriate outfit past me. I miss their friends and their energy and the loving chaos that always filled our house. They leave a huge hole.
But it is a new chapter. And frankly, I am glad that my life has had many chapters with different characters and plots. I am looking forward to having time for just me and Martha to get reacquainted. And hopefully to have some more of that noisy, sloppy sex.
And for all you moms who are raising, or raised your kids as a single parent - you are frigging amazing. I don’t know how you do it. You have my utmost admiration.