Last Friday evening I found myself in a position, which, as a wife and mother, was unexpected and quite foreign to me. I was home…ALONE.
My husband was out of town and I was hosting a small surprise party for a dear friend’s birthday. Now, all the planning that goes into pulling off a big surprise is really worthy of a post in itself. But I’ll make a long story short, and just say that it would have been nearly impossible to do with 2 small children present, both of whom probably would have spent the entire night pulling at my shirt asking for more juice or to be held. So, as much as I adore them…they had to go! Luckily for me, I am blessed to have family in town and off they went for a slumber party at their Grandmother’s house! (I love my mother-in-law!) The party was a success and the birthday girl was very surprised. But for me, the real surprise came after the last guest left.
After the end of the wonderful evening, I stood at my front door waving goodbye to my friend and her husband. Then I shut the door, and I suddenly realized, I was alone. I have lived in my home for just over 4 years; we moved in when I was pregnant with my first child. Yet, in all that time, I have never been here all night, all alone. I stood there for a moment in the entryway almost paralyzed by this reality.
I was tired and my feet hurt; I had wanted to go bed. But instead, I felt a sudden burst of energy. There was so much I could do right now! All the projects that were nearly impossible with children around, I could do them! Things that made loud noises and would certainly wake up the boys, I could do them. I could do anything I wanted! I could even leave my house. I could even leave without carseats and without having to pay a high-schooler $12 an hour to stay here and watch TV while my kids slept! I could even stay up late because (here comes the big one) I could sleep in! I would have no 6am wakeup call from the crib 2 doors down. There would be no “lost pacifier emergencies” at 3 am, no 4am mandatory “monster in my closet checks”, no husband’s cell phone alarm at 5am. It was just me! Mommy-uniterrupted! I felt free! I felt young! I felt a strong urge to be somewhat reckless.
In the end, I decided to vacuum the family room and wash the dishes. But I did it all while listening to a very interesting podcast… loudly, on my speakers not my earbuds! (told you I was feeling reckless!) When the house was clean, I checked the locks, turned off the light and headed upstairs to bed. I grabbed my phone and a glass of water, but I felt like I was forgetting something.
The coffee was ready to go; but what about the chocolate milk my 3-year old loves in the morning? I had forgotten to make it in advance. No, wait. I don’t need to tonight. And formula for the baby? Did I fill the bottles with water and measure out 3 scoops of powder? No, I didn’t. But tonight I didn’t need to.
As I reached the top of the stairs, I shut the safety gate behind me; then I gave it a good rattle to check that it was really locked. But why was I doing that? Who was I trying to keep safe? There was no one who might climb out of their bed, get disoriented in the dark and fall down the stairs. It was only me.
I washed my face, put on my pj’s and, completely out of habit, before crawling into bed, I started to walk down the hall to the boys’ rooms. I stopped; there was no one there to check on. There was no need to peek into the preschooler’s room to see what funny and orthodox sleeping position he had gotten himself into or what unlikely friend he was cuddling with tonight. Was it stuffed bunny or Finn McMissile? There was no need to turn to the room across the hall and look in on the chubby face of a sleeping baby. No need to check his crib for chocking hazards, or extra binkies, or to make sure the temperature was okay for a little one still too small for a real bed and blankets.
I turned around and walked back to my room. Just as I do every night, I checked that my cell phone was charging, and then the same for the baby monitor. But there was no reason to have a baby monitor. Even the monitor knew things were different tonight, It gave no noise of a babbling brook by way of a sound machine. Tonight, it uselessly projected a magnified sound of silence.
I lay alone in my bed. I was still thankful for the quiet home. I was still grateful for a night of good sleep. I was still thrilled about the idea of sleeping as late as I wanted. Yet, as I lay there, all alone, in a very quiet home, I felt the emptiness and I began to pray. I thanked God for this peaceful night, for the much needed rest, and for the empty home I was enjoying. Although mostly I thanked him that this home is usually anything but quiet and empty. I thanked him for a home that was very, very full.
Then I went to sleep. The next morning I slept in…till 7:45am! I guess even all alone, I am always a mom.