The husband was out of town for a few days recently and though I function without difficulty, I find that I dislike pseudo-singlehood more now than I ever disliked actually being single. This is a significant revelation because with the economy imploding the possibility of Rob having to be away is something we might have to deal with in order to do things like…eat.
When I was single, companionship of any kind was something I scheduled to suit my needs. As a single mom, companionship was still penciled in, but I did it around the child and at the mercy of teenage babysitters. Married again now, I find that companionship is no longer recreational or sanity saving as much as it is necessary for my life to truly be my life as I prefer to define it.
I know couples who have separate nights out during the week or month. I know couples who vacation separately. I even know couples who have separate bedrooms to go with their own bathrooms. And though I don’t know any couples who live in different places, I know that this too works for some people. But I have, oddly it seems to me given my life long need for solitude, become someone who doesn’t need all that much space these days.
And I mean space in the ethereal sense because I still have a personal space bubble that cringes when the person behind me in the grocery checkout is close enough to read the washing instructions on the tag of my shirt. If it was sticking out. Which it often is.
When did this happen?
I know it wasn’t motherhood that did it because at the end of the Christmas holidays, I was more than ready to put the wee daughter back on her bus for my 8 hour daily respite from her. And as much as I loved having my younger step-daughter around all last summer, because 23 is such a different parenting experience than 6, I was more than happy to help her move back to the city when fall came and thus reclaim the quiet, solitary afternoons I’d come to depend on for serious thinking and writing time.
Was it the institution of marriage? Doubtful. In my first marriage my husband was an avid pool player who devoted at least one week night to a league and competition, and every Sunday of the NFL season to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I simply saw this as an opportunity. Even now I have writing groups that take me out of the house a couple of evenings a month. So I don’t think it was marriage.
Aging maybe? I am aging. More rapidly some days than others. And though the people in my life politely assure me I don’t look it, I am “a woman of a certain age” now. Do we start to need less “me time” as we age the same way we need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight?
Oh, but you are at home now all day long and not subject to the constant yammer of humanity like those of us in the workplace, you might be thinking. And that would be a good point on your part, except that I am not a hermit. I take classes, I go to the gym, I volunteer and even though it doesn’t seem like cyber interaction is real, it is. In fact my mother thinks its wonderful, and fitting, that I should end up “working” among “imaginary people” given the number of friends of that nature I had when I was young.
Maybe I am not a feminist anymore? I’ve been Stepford-ized perhaps? Semen does have mind control properties, or so I have read.
No, I’m just different now. Everyone changes over time. Grows. Matures. Even me, except for the mature part. I guess it’s okay. It doesn’t mean I have lost my independence – a huge fear of mine when I married, both times. Disliking being on my own is not the same thing as being unable to be alone.
This was a 50 Something Moms piece.