Today is an odd day. The hubby took Nate to his mom's house early this morning, but I didn't have to be at work until noon so I basically had four hours to myself this morning. I don't even know when the last time was that I had four hours to myself. It could quite literally be two years ago.
So what did I do? I wondered what I could do. I could clean the bathroom, vacuum my bedroom carpet, clean the kitchen and dining room floors, go to the library and read. But in the end I decided I actually didn't want to do anything that resembled work or was out of the ordinary. I wanted to take this out of the ordinary time and do something very ordinary with it. I made myself breakfast, watched TV, took my time getting ready, and ran an errand before work. That's it. Didn't clean, didn't prep dinner, didn't even finish the laundry that was already in the dryer. Just kind of existed in the eeriest quiet I've felt in my home since we've lived there.
I've had plenty of relative alone time there, time when the hubby was out, Nate was asleep, and my brother was in his room. But even then, there's this energy of other people being home. On those nights I kind of trick myself into thinking I have the time to myself, but I don't really. Nate could wake up at any moment and need comforting (this almost never happens, but the possibility is there). My brother could come out into the kitchen for some water and strike up a conversation (this almost always happens).
Today it was just me... well, and the two dogs, who also seemed to relish being home and uncaged. They simply napped in their favorite cushy spots until it was time for me to leave, when they then dutifully entered their crates.
And now today, a day that many people experience as one in which they get out early from work, I have to work late. As with most Wednesdays, I have to proctor an exam, but unlike most Wednesdays, today's may be packed. I usually only have three to five students testing. Today there are twelve scheduled. I may, in fact, work later today than I usually do, depending on how quickly the students move through the exam.
And then there's the matter of tomorrow: Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.). I don't have anything to do in preparation. I was told we don't need to bring anything (and, truthfully, can't afford the excess groceries making something special would require) so... we're just showing up to eat. And.... that's it. It's been years since I've done that.
It's truly an odd day. Here are these things that set me free, from a certain perspective. Nothing to do this morning, nothing to prepare for tomorrow. Yet I am sort of not liking either experience. Well, or it's taking me a while to warm up to liking them. I did actually like lying on the couch watching television this morning and eating English muffins. But I didn't like getting out of the shower to an empty, quiet house. Sure, it made getting ready a lot easier since I didn't have to sneak around hoping a certain toddler wouldn't come barreling into my room and start wrecking things... but it still just didn't feel right. And not baking something like a pie or appetizer tonight doesn't feel right either.
It seems clear that I have a new normal, one that involves a rambunctious toddler and lots of time in the kitchen. Both of these renew me and provide invaluable perspective on life, even if they both involve the occasional bouts of frustration, and even disaster. An outing to the movies last week (which I'll have to write about another time) started me thinking seriously this week about my personal time - what I do with it, how I feel about it. Today I felt progress; even though my new normal is a bit crazy, running in circles, covered in flour, I love it - and now I'm slowly beginning to take back a tiny bit of me and remembering how to enjoy that, too.