Empty house stirs heartfelt family memories
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?