Monday, August 24, 2009

Weird

The children stayed with their grandparents at the beach last night so that hubby and I could go out for a date. (Italian sausage ravioli followed by Inglourious Basterds, if you're interested. I recommend both.) When we returned home from the movie, almost everything felt just a little bit weird. Instead of getting an update from the babysitter and then tiptoeing to bed, we found the house in darkness. We turned on all the lights, and I kept catching myself whispering unnecessarily, the absence of sleeping children an alienating, strange condition, something that made my house just a little bit odd, almost like the Other Mother's world in Coraline. It was weird being able to talk about the movie in normal, audible tones before turning out the light. It felt strange to wake up to find curtains open in every room, beds already made.

It was not always so. When I brought Bub home from the hospital as a baby, one of the most daunting thoughts in my wound-up, sleep-deprived state was that he just wasn't ever going to go away. Day and night, the baby was always there, and I knew that even when he was old enough to sleep through the night he would still be there, breathing in the next room. I would never get a good night's sleep again. The kind of deep, unthinking sleep that had characterized my pre-baby life was gone forever, and gone with it was a certain feeling of home as a refuge from disturbance and stress. My home had turned into the epicentre of stress.

I slept well last night. But to sleep in a childless house no longer felt comfortable and safe the way it did before I had my babies. Part of me can remember a time when I was free to turn on any light in the house at eleven o'clock, when I could watch TV as loud as I wanted and sleep in late. But that's no longer a norm my children are disturbing - that seems like a weird, alien way of life. I actually set the alarm last night, but I didn't need it - I woke up to a sun-filled room at 6:56, and the deep stillness of the house felt not peaceful but empty.

15 comments:

Swistle said...

Ug, I KNOW! What will we DO??

wheelsonthebus said...

it is not easy to describe an absence. you did it so well.

Jen said...

Sent my oldest off to college this week and all I can say is, well, they definitely do go away!

It's not that he's been gone long (and he's actually in our same city), but much more the dawning realization that this was it -- summers and holidays he'll likely be home, but probably not every summer and holiday. We're finished with that stage of life with him, forever.

We spent the weekend looking at our 15 and 7 year old and thinking how very quickly those 3 and 11 years are going to go.

painted maypole said...

we don't have to tip toe, because once MQ is out, she's out, and has never required that kind of silence (thank goodness!) but it is SO weird to go to bed with her door wide open and her bed empty.

Nicole said...

The house always seems so strange without the kids in it. It takes me a while to get used to them not being there when they are at school!

Beck said...

I've never had my house all to myself, because The Baby is still a smidge too young for overnighters - but the house felt completely empty when The Girl went to camp for a week. We were bereft.

Gwen said...

even our cat freaks out on the rare occasions that both kids are gone. while i get what you're saying, after weeks of one or another or both children being up all night, i could do with a little of that empty (look, i'm so tired, i've even given up caps.).

Bon said...

it has happened to me too. me, the night owl, who now wakes out of habit at 5 or 6 am at least to open my eyes and ears and check that nobody is needing me.

and if they were not here it would take days, i think, to begin to relax out of that expectation of them. they are my normal, now. which some part of my brain finds bizarre, clockwise. and the rest finds...well...good.

Veronica Mitchell said...

Since my last baby started sleeping through the night, I sleep like the dead. I am out within three minutes of lying down, and I do not regain consciousness until the morning cries or alarm around 6.

But I had a couple hours of silence this week when my oldest was at school and my three youngest were napping. It was weird. I did not know how to enjoy it properly.

Karen said...

yes, last year we went away from our anniversary. we picked an easy close by spot we knew well, in case, we had to run home as Theo was still 2. It was a seaside town with a pier full of shops and galleries. We walked up and down twice before realizing we could go into any shop or gallery that we wanted -stroller free and kid free. For years we'd be walking up and down the same pier with sense that the fuss wouldn't be worth it. It is like we had been inoculated against grown-up fun!

Kelly said...

Isn't it strange? And I also think, not fair. We spend so much time pining for moments away, and when they finally become ours, we then pine for those little bodies and loud voices.

My husband and I spent a weekend away from this kids at the beginning of summer. We did enjoy it, certainly. But there was, as you put it, a certain emptiness about not sharing it with them.

Kyla said...

It IS weird.

HarryJack's Mom said...

Thank you for describing that so well. Mine went to kindergarten this week, and the day-house definitely has a different vibe than the nite-house. I can only imagine the emptiness of them not actually being there overnite...not ready yet ;-)

Amanda said...

I read a post the other day that said, "Did they ever not exist?" I ache with knowing that this won't always be.

Spot on.

the new girl said...

I like this post. I remember that feeling coming home from the hospital, too.

Like, this baby LIVES here now, with US.