While I have been socially isolating since this whole pandemic began, I can’t remember the last time I was actually alone for an extended period of time. Someone else is always around: husband, kids, dog. Even closing myself off in my room, I am always aware of the presence of the kids and the dog (and they don’t let me forget!). The husband goes to a basically empty office during the day and for long motorcycle rides on weekends, but I have nowhere to go, ever. My daughter is starved for social interaction, so whenever I go off to run an errand, she wants to tag along.
Sewing has been a bit of a refuge, but again, it’s something that I do at home with all of the distractions that come with it. I steal time to write, but again, it’s between feeding kids and tending the dog and troubleshooting technology for the kids and meetings and…I’ve started to meditate, but (again) I can steal away 10min…sometimes. Even swimming isn’t solitary, as I am swimming with the team. I do a lot of things for myself, but not a lot of things in solitude.
I realized something: I miss doing things alone in public.
My daughter has started ballet again, but because of social distancing regulations everywhere, the only place where I can be is in my car. I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to go to a coffee shop, grab a drink, and work. Maybe it’s also because a coffee shop or ballet studio lobby is more comfortable than the car. And while home is more comfortable, I’m back into being mom, rather than have the space for however long to be…not-mom.
On Sunday morning, I drove 45min to Leesburg to pick up a serger machine that I found for a steel. I didn’t realize how much I missed driving by myself, either. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and cool, and I ended up in more rural Virginia, driving through farms and vineyards. I could listen to what I wanted to on the radio. I could sing along however I wanted to. I could take whatever detour or stop I wanted to. Whatever route I wanted to.
On the way home I stopped at a farm stand and took my time choosing tomatoes and drinking coffee and enjoying being outside with fresh fruits and vegetables. I was just out…by myself. It was glorious. I came home in a wonderful mood, happy to see my family and start the rest of the day. I didn’t even mind laundry. I finished one dress and got far along in starting another. We ate delicious burgers, and I had the space and energy to enjoy all of it.
I’ve written earlier about how working from home makes those transitions from “work” to “home” and back again difficult, but I’m finding now that even when I put on work clothes and do my make-up, I’m still “mom” and that inability to shed that role (ok, not shed the role completely, but let it recede into the background while “work” shifts to the foreground) had been exhausting. Maybe this all falls into the category of “duh” but it sometimes it takes take to untangle everything that is happening in your head when there are so many other things to untangle everywhere else.
I’m already trying to plan for more spaces where I can be alone and not-mom and not-work. We have access to the pool we train in during the day, so maybe I can sneak off at lunch, even if it isn’t for swimming; I could use the deck space to do yoga on my own, with the sounds of the pool in the background. I wish it could be first thing in the morning, but the other team we share the space with is there training. My presence would be more than a little awkward.
I am figuring out how to best use the time I have while my daughter dances. Last night, as the sun set, I sat and half-listened to Dany Laferrière read one of his books while browsing patterns. In one short week, between last week’s first class and this week’s second class, the temperature has dropped and the days have gotten noticeably shorter. We’re settling into another new routine quite nicely, and I am realizing what I need most moving forward: some spaces for solitude.