A funny thing happens when my kids leave town every summer to visit their extended family in various parts of the country. I feel compelled to fill every single moment with a specifically non-child, non-parenting-related activity. This is the motor that drives my agenda. I simply have to jam it with a non-stop barrage of anti-parenting activities.
For every moment they are doing child-like campy stuff, I need to be doing adult-life adult-y stuff. The only problem is, after 10 years of parenting, I have no idea what that looks like. What would I do if I were 36 and single? Drink wine and smoke cigs while swiping ‘left’ in Tinder with a facemask on? We already do that. (To be honest I don’t drink or smoke, but I know a plethora of moms who do, on the daily).
Here’s an example of what a day of trying to pretend I’m not a mom because my kids aren’t here looks like:
Morning: I drop off my son, AJ, and my ex-husband at the airport at 6:30 a.m. My daughter, Aria, had left a few days earlier with her dad. I return to an empty house and look around. Breathe. Silence. Wow. I get back in bed to try and sleep. Hmmm. Not tired. Of course not. My body clock is firmly set to wake at 6 a.m. and there is no turning back from that.
I get massive ideas to clean the place up, organize Legos, color code crayons and DEAL WITH THE CLOSETS! But it's not working. Instead, I get back into bed, again, download the dating app Bumble and set up my profile for the third time that week. After all I was not only newly single but had EIGHT WHOLE NIGHTS to fill with adult-like things. This will be my great start. Oh no. Oh gross. Help. “Regional Managers” after Regional Managers after “Entrepreneur” from DeVry University. They are all reeling in big fish and taking gym selfies. It's awful but I persevere.
Things don’t feel much different than on the nights when my kids are not sleeping here. In fact, it’s just like any other weekend without them. Ho-hum and zzzzz.
Mid Morning: After a spin class, I come home and take the bath of a lifetime, complete with aforementioned face mask. It feels like I might be in the tub for hours and hours and hours. I stalk my ex-boyfriend on Instagram, create two more dating app profiles and take selfies of myself relaxing in the tub on a Saturday afternoon to my two best friends who I imagine are dripping in children at the time. I look at my phone. Only 20 minutes have passed. Wow, time really IS standing still without my kids.
I get out and slather self tanner on for the F of it. I put toe nail polish on. I did things I had not done in … well, I can’t remember. I stay in my robe for hours. My official child-free-stay cation has commenced.
Facebook. Instagram. Raya. Hinge. Bumble. Repeat. (Duration: 1 hour).
Afternoon: I text my dear girlfriend for coffee or wine or both at Terroni at … 4 p.m., just an odd random time because without kids you can do this kind of crazy shit. And yes, she can meet me on the fly because she has no kids ruining her life. It’s heaven. Oh look! Here’s an invite to hit Giorgio’s tonight; it's only the chicest most selective disco in town. I must make it happen. None of my mommy friends can go last minute. And I have the perfect vintage silk jumpsuit for it, too! I ask my gorgeous single friend across from me and hella yes she can go because spontaneity is what LIFE IS ABOUT BEFORE KIDS. I drink Diet Coke, planning my caffeine-fueled dance party later in the evening. I pretend I'm 25. I bounce home. There is an actual float to my step.
Evening: More lounging. I try and do something bad. I need to. What? I don’t smoke cigarettes. I hate to drink. I settle on some vibrator action. It’s fantastic. Especially after my friend just told me about this OM technique she learned where you learn to have these super long orgasms because it’s good for PTSD—which of course I must have, because I have to small kids and I'm over 40, right? I masturbate the hour away.
Night: Giorgio’s. I Uber to the Standard and take lots of selfies power posing in my Liz Claiborne eBay-find in the bathroom. I share them ASAP to Facebook and Insta to show the world what a fabulous time I am having without my kids, see? I dance. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. And while I was told I looked “fabulousssss” by more than one stylish gay man and a hot girl did come up and squeeze me from behind on the dance floor, I don’t run off with a Columbian Cartel, snort coke off the tits of a trannie or head up to a hotel room with a bunch of millennials and watch them have sex with strap ons. I don’t in fact do anything. I go home in an Uber, take a hot bath, some more swiping, and then, you guessed it, masturbate myself to sleep. You know, for the PTSD. Things don’t feel much different than on the nights when my kids are not sleeping here. In fact, it’s just like any other weekend without them. Ho-hum and zzzzz.
Sunday is a day filled with more stuff that I am pretending I can’t do when I have my kids. I work out; I do a sweat at Shape House. I return home and do lots of puttering. I walk into my kids’ room, still a mess from when they left, determined to attack it, this time, determined to start from the closet outward. It doesn't happen. I shuffle away and sit at my desk and try to work. To my shock, as I am a confessed workaholic, I can’t do that either.
I plop on the couch with a New York Magazine and enjoy the quiet.
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When my kids are here, cleaning, organizing and working is my trifecta to avoid doing other stuff like playing Legos. I never flop on the couch. I don’t even sit for a beat when my kids are home. It occurs to me that all I do when my kids are home are activities to look incredibly productive but I am really just trying to tune them out.
For the rest of Sunday, I do none of it. I don’t work. I don’t clean. I don’t tune out anything other than my own chatter that I have to do nothing but pre-motherhood activities to make the week worth while. As I chill on the couch it finally occurs to me, I am doing just that and it's amazing. I'm simply relaxing, sitting, reading. All my running around, trying to find some edgy, pre-parenting thing to do, but it turns out this is it.