February 1st, 2009

empty calendar


Many people who have families and husbands and live by a certain routine and level of activity might be completely at a loss if faced with a sudden abundance of alone time. How can you function when the people that you care for and adjust your life around are out of the picture for a time? I know most mothers crave some downtime; time to themselves to rebuild their stores of energy or just some peace and quiet for a few short hours. But I know an equal amount of them who claim not to know what to do with themselves when their families aren't around.

Anders has been taking the kids on a week-long ski trip for 7 years. The first time they went, Karin was only 3.5 years old: the minimum age for a child to go to ski school at the resorts here in Sweden. The kids go to ski or snowboard school in the mornings while Anders and his friend Mats (and the other fathers, if someone else has gone that year) hit the slopes. Then they fix lunch at the cabin, and then all of them go out together in the afternoons. In the evenings, they take a sauna, watch TV or DVDs or play games and get homework done. They have a blast, those dads and their kids, during this week each year.

I look forward to this week all year with as much enthusiasm as they do. Not because I won't miss my family, but because I will. But not for several days, at least.

They left around 7:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, and this year I didn't plan very well, because I had a dinner party to go to on Friday evening, so in effect that's when we said goodbye to each other. They woke me up for hugs and kisses as they carried the last bags out the door and I waved as they pulled out in the stuffed-full Volvo with the ski box on top. Then I went back to bed and slept in like a teenager.

Just think! I don't have to fix dinner for anyone but me for a whole week! I have cleaned and picked up the house and it WILL STAY CLEAN for the next 7 days: everything in its place. I don't have to fight anyone else for the computer. I don't have to get up earlier than I'd like to chivvy children into getting up, dressed, teeth brushed, and out the door on time to school. I don't have to take anyone else anywhere for any activities. And I won't get aggravated at my husband for accidentally waking me up when he finally comes to bed at a godawful hour despite the fact that it's a work night.

By Thursday I'll be missing them greatly: missing the enthusiastic hugs and goodnight kisses and Karin's willingness to sit on my shoulders and rub my neck after a hard day at work. I'll miss the breathing silence of a sleeping house full of loved ones. I'll miss the daily give and take of checking to make sure the things that need to be taken care of are done, and the recounting of what's gone on during the day for each child and for my husband and my own chance to tell someone the good and bad things about my own day. But even then, I shall store up all the missing for their return on Saturday night and enjoy every minute of my lovely lovely not-so-lonely week.
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