Empty house stirs heart­felt fam­ily mem­o­ries

The Covington News - - Sunday Living - Kari Apted Colum­nist

I can’t re­call when my world has been so silent, or so tidy. I’ve been home alone for sev­eral days, and I’ve hardly known what to do with my­self.

My hus­band took our sons to visit his mother in Ken­tucky while I stayed be­hind to cre­ate les­son plans for this year of home­school­ing. It has been a bless­ing to work with­out in­ter­rup­tion. A nice bonus has been re­dis­cov­er­ing how in­cred­i­bly clean a house can be when just one adult is liv­ing there.

I’m ac­cus­tomed to do­ing one, some­times two, loads of dishes ev­ery day. Af­ter three days at home alone, the dish­washer isn’t even half full. The rooms I cleaned lastWed­nes­day are still tidy. The boys’ bath­room has sparkled for days in­stead of the usual mil­lisec­ond be­tween my clean­ing and their mess­ing it up again.

But our pets are wan­der­ing around the house, bored and needy for at­ten­tion. I have to ad­mit that I’ve felt sur­pris­ingly lonely, too. It’s not that I doubted I’d miss my fam­ily. It’s just that I’m known as a wo­man who needs her down­time. Un­like ex­tro­verts who feel most re­freshed when spend­ing time with oth­ers, I recharge my bat­ter­ies best when I’m by my­self. It’s nec­es­sary for my san­ity to sprin­kle life with pe­ri­ods of si­lence and soli­tude. I’ve even con­tem­plated go­ing on one of those silent re­treats at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Cony­ers. Can you imag­ine a whole week­end of soli­tude, nei­ther speak­ing to any­one nor be­ing spo­ken to, even at meal­times? No cell phones, television, or In­ter­net ac­cess, ei­ther. To some folks, that sounds mad­den­ing. But I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by the con­cept. I will def­i­nitely give it a try some­day and re­port on it af­ter­wards.

I think si­lence would be more en­joy­able away from home, in a peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment like the monastery. There, I’d have a small room, a chapel to med­i­tate in, and a beau­ti­ful lake to walk be­side. Here, I’m con­stantly re­minded of ev­ery­thing I need to do.

It’s strange how cav­ernous our lit­tle house feels with­out my chil­dren here. Cav­ernous— but clean— and so very quiet. I’ve chalked up three whole days de­void of ref­er­ee­ing the chil­dren’s ar­gu­ments and my sub­se­quent yelling at them to cut it out. I’m afraid I’ll lose that ragged, fight-stop­ping edge to my voice if they don’t hurry back soon.

They’re hav­ing a great time, though. I don’t know who’s hav­ing more fun — my hus­band, his mom or the kids. I think most of us get a kick out of tak­ing our chil­dren to places we en­joyed when we were young. Now I un­der­stand why my own folks loved to show me the houses they grew up in and take me to all the places they used to go. Back then, I just rolled my eyes and sulked as they dragged me along on their trips down me­mory lane. But oh, how I un­der­stand their nos­tal­gia now.

I’m sure my mother-in-law took plea­sure in see­ing her lit­tle grand­sons en­joy the Ken­tucky state fair the way her own son did when he was small. Their en­tire trip was planned around the dates of the fair be­cause my hus­band has al­ways wanted to take his boys there.

Some fam­i­lies have a pol­icy against trav­el­ing un­less both par­ents go along, but I think it’s good for kids to spend ex­tended time with just mom or dad oc­ca­sion­ally. I’ve got­ten to en­joy so many of our sons’ firsts while my hus­band has been busy pro­vid­ing a liv­ing for us.

I’m glad that he was the one who took the boys on their first Fer­ris wheel ride and in­tro­duced them to the gas­tro­nomic de­light of eat­ing fun­nel cakes and ele­phant ears be­neath the stars. I know they cre­ated mem­o­ries they’ll trea­sure for­ever.

By the time this goes to print, my men will be back home. I can’t wait to see their sweet faces, hear their chat­ter and re­ceive their hugs and kisses again.

But their mess-mak­ing ten­den­cies? I hope they leave those in Ken­tucky.

Hey, a mom can dream, can’t she?

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