By Diane Ako
The doctor was right. Having the house to myself for nearly a week while my husband and child went on vacation was really the perfect prescription for fatigue. I had gone in worried about myself because it seemed like an unusually long stretch of time that I'd been tired. The doctor said I probably just work too much.
By coincidence, Claus wanted to go skiing in December and was intent on going even if I didn't want to. It was fine with me. I didn't want to devote an extra ounce of energy to even packing a suitcase and flying on a plane, even if it meant having - in theory- fun once there. We used to have a fair amount of help but situations change, and now we go it alone with the exception of a babysitter for a couple of jujitsu nights every week.
So they were set to leave, and I was both sad and looking forward to some Me Time. I wasn't filling up my dance card for every available time slot. My goal was just to have some quiet time, and hold down the fort.
To my utter surprise, all my energy came back to me right away, the very next day, which was Saturday. It was like the pre-mommy me.
I did what I wanted all weekend, didn't worry about cooking people's meals, didn't worry about someone getting kidnapped/hurt/hit by a car, wasn't required to think a step or two ahead, took a nap, went out with friends if I wanted, went out with my dog if I wanted, stayed out way later than I normally would, and in general, just really relished the freedom.
It was like crack for my calendar. A massage for my brain. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!
I took a trip with Olivia and we left Claus behind, in 2010. He said he remembers having more energy, but not as extreme a reaction as I've had. I think women are usually the primary caregivers to the very young children, but even if it were an equal split, I still think women's brains function differently than men's. Our multi-core processors are constantly engaged, whereas I think men are simpler, more linear thinkers.
I don't know. I could be wrong. Maybe it's because Claus is in better physical shape than me and therefore can withstand the demands of parenting better than I.
I'm shocked at how much parenting takes out of me. I guessed at it, but I didn't know until now!
The work week flew by, maintaining the theme of severely enjoying doing things on my own time. I didn't have to drop someone off at school or daycare. I didn't have to try to leave work by 5 so I could adhere to the family routine, schedule, and obligations. I carried on like the person I was before I was married.
I did not expect this much fun. I think I had more fun than Claus, frankly. He was tired.
Don't get me wrong. I missed them. It wasn't one emotion or the other; it was both. I missed them but I liked visiting with - as my friend Paul puts it - Fun Diane. It's been a long, long time. Five, six years?
Here's the thing. I think there's good and bad in every situation, and the key is to have balance. I wouldn't want to be single again. I wouldn't want to not have Olivia in my life, either.
I like my life. I also liked the week off because I knew it was a short-term deal, and that I'd soon resume my regularly scheduled programming - even if it wears me out. I enjoy raising my child, and I accept that the price of admission is lots of time and energy. I try to be in this moment as fully as I can because nothing lasts forever.
Although... I wouldn't object to another Daddy/Daughter trip in a year from now. Fun Diane wants to come out to play more than once every five years.
Have you experienced this?