I really enjoy being on my own. I married young, divorced before I was thirty and spent most of the last decade alone. I’ve had week long vacations in the Maldives, Egypt, Thailand, Crete and worked all over Europe and Asia on my own. Maybe I’m an extreme case but solitude has always been a little heaven for me. Growing up in a large family, being alone was so rare.
Hidalgo is only three but we spent the first half of his life in Paris and his father was in Ireland. Moving there was risky in part because I’d been happy in Paris but I was pursuing the dream that I was promised. I was not prepared for the instant Stepford wife role I was meant to play. I didn’t know that Mr. Smug was incapable of love (his words, not mine) so I left sooner than anyone could have anticipated. Having spent a lot of time single, I hadn’t forgotten what it was like to be alone and I wasn’t afraid.
Before I left, nearly five months ago, I asked for a written draft of a visitation plan. Mr. Smug said he needed to consult his lawyer every time I’ve requested it since. I finally received his casual email with a rough idea of visitation after some drama but it wasn’t drafted by a lawyer (even though he is also a lawyer). He has proposed for Hidalgo to come to Ireland three times a year for one week in spring, summer and winter and also visit here in Paris approximately once a month.
I don’t disagree much with the framework of the visitation plan. I’d rather have actual dates scheduled instead of vague seasons but it’s less time than I expected and nothing I wouldn’t agree to in principle. Great. We can avoid court.
So less than a week later I receive a summons to appear in court in Ireland at the end of April. I told him (by text since we no longer speak) that I won’t be going to court. I agreed to the three weeks per year and once monthly weekends per his draft so there was no need for court. No response. Two days ago he sent me another email changing the only actual dates he wanted to take Hidalgo a month from now.
Why does he even bother with a song and dance about fighting in court for custody and visitation when he can’t commit to even the first dates he proposed? Clearly, I can’t make any plans for myself if the dates he choses to visit or take Hidalgo are constantly changing.
I’m keeping in mind that I want Hidalgo to have a healthy relationship with his father. I want them to spent time together and I also want some time for myself. I feel guilty about looking forward to the times when Hidalgo will be with his father. Instead of dreading the weeks my son will be away from me, I’m going to take advantage of the free time and do my own thing when I’m off duty. Because alone time is really ME time.
10 Reasons to Love Time on Your Own:
1. The house is clean. Everything will be just as you leave it. No husband messes, no kiddy messes, just your mess as you see fit to leave it.
2. The bathroom is empty. You can spend as much time as you want in the bathroom. Take a bath. Put on a hydrating mask that takes an hour. Wax, trim, pluck, lotion, perfume as you please. Wander in your bathrobe or even naked.
3. Sleep is uninterrupted. Go to bed when you want, wake up when you need to get ready. No cries in the middle of the night, no before dawn bed invasions, no rushing through the morning routine.
4. Meals don’t have to be kid friendly. I can cook with chili peppers and mushrooms. I can eat corn out of the can. I can go out for a quiet dinner and not have the extra cost of a babysitter to go with my meal.
5. The spa is no place for a child. I used to get massages from the nearby message school where for only $10, I could get a one hour massage from some partially trained hands. I spend a little bit more now but call it physical therapy. Stress is a killer and a massage is medicine.
6. Finish a book from cover to cover. I’m an avid reader but once I start a book I like, it’s hard to put down and I’ve had some very crabby days due to lack of sleep. So I don’t read much when my energy is reserved for Hidalgo.
7. Socialize with adults. Grab a coffee with the single or childless friend you haven’t seen in a while. Cultivate new friendships by joining groups, clubs, after work cocktail hours. Eventually go on dates.
8. Take a vacation. I have met some very interesting people and had amazing experiences by traveling alone. I’ve made friends along the way in a way that can’t be done when traveling as a couple. I also have some single friends who need vacation buddies and I’d love to drink a coconut on some beach, relax, catch up with one of the girls.
9. Take some lessons or training. The local community center is an excellent resources for inexpensive classes. I’ve learned stained glass, pottery making, sailing, and kayaking through community centers. I’m considering training for a half marathon but I’m not sure if I’m committed enough, yet.
10. Get stuff done. Not my favorite but my to-do list is always long and some of these items are easier and faster without kid in tow. Filling forms, filing paperwork, taking appointments. It’s not fun but has to get done. Might as well be when the house in quiet.
Being alone is a luxury only truly appreciated by a single parent. Single people want to be in relationships. Childless women often become overwhelmed with the desire to have children. Married women, especially after children are rarely, if ever, alone. Being with my ex was almost like being alone but having an extra giant baby to care for. Some well earned and appreciated personal time is something I’m going to enjoy. And when Hidalgo comes home, I’ll smell is hair and cover him with hugs and kisses and tell him I missed him so much.