21 May 2010

Loneliness, Aloneness

I'm not lonely very much. I'm rarely ever alone, for starters (although being in the presence of others is certainly no guarantee that one will not feel lonely). Even when I am alone, or quasi-alone, after the kids go to sleep and it's just me rattling around in the house, I'm usually quite content with my own company. I have an endless litany of projects to attend to or avoid. I can read or watch TV. I can stare blankly at Facebook, write blog posts, go to bed early, listen to music, cook, eat, drink. I can send text messages! Love the text messages. What I can't do is go out on a whim, or go for a run, or leave the house for much other than to sit on the patio or take out the trash. But that's OK; I find life pretty tiring, and most nights being home in my pajamas doing something or nothing or a mix of the two is truly totally fine by me.

There are two things that do have a tendency to make me feel lonely, though. One is dealing with a sick child in the middle of the night. Riley was sick—albeit during the day—this week, just some kind of flash in the pan stomach bug that hit on the way out the door to school on Thursday. I kept both him and Maddie home, and we ended up having a lovely day of videos and playtime. It was clear by about 10 a.m. that Riley was actually fine, but the time between 8 and 10 a.m.—cleaning up the barf, doing the attendant laundry, doling out crackers with fingers crossed that no repeat event occurred—during that time, my mind raced. "Will he still be sick tonight? Will Maddie get sick tonight? Will I?" During the day, I can handle it, but at night? I think waking up to the sound of a sick kid fills any parent with a sense of worry and dread, but I find for me it's more than that. It fills me with a sense of profound isolation during which I acutely feel the burden of my parenting responsibility. It reminds me of when I'd get sick in the Peace Corps. Nothing made me more homesick then. Now nothing makes me more lonely than consoling and caring for Maddie or Riley during nighttime illness; in those moments, the physical and moral support of another adult is sharply absent for me.

The other time I tend to feel lonely is on Friday and Saturday nights. I think this is true of many single people. It's easy to imagine the married folks hunkering down into their comfortable married lives, and the folks on dates filled with adrenaline and anticipation and lust. These are romanticized notions, to be sure, but when faced with the exciting thought of getting caught up on paying bills or folding laundry or even climbing into bed to watch a movie, it's hard not to feel like the rest of the world is having more fun.

Woe is me, I know, boo hoo and all that, but for better or for worse, there you have my little pity party of the day. I've gotten to the point where on these evenings, I no longer miss John as much as I miss having a companion with whom to share the chores and watch the film. It's more about longing now than grief. To be fair, many weekend nights come and go just like other nights for me, without a sense that in their Friday or Saturday-ness my not having a partner is more significant. But it is on those nights that I'm most prone to a tinge of being lonely, a sense that my own company is not always quite enough.

Tonight I think I will climb into bed with a glass of wine and a movie, Atonement. I've had it from Netflix for months now, never feeling in the mood for it when I have a free evening to devote to movie-watching. I think tonight's the night. Not such a bad evening for sure, I know, not such a bad evening for sure. But yeah, just a little lonely.

19 comments:

Amber said...

No consolation, I know, but I just find it slightly amusing that my Friday night so far has consisted of: paying bills and folding laundry! You hit the nail on the head!

I would think that having to handle all of the nighttime issues (sickness among them) would be one of the hardest parts of single-parenting. And with twins?!

Melanie said...

I'm single and had no plans tonight. And of course, couldn't get rid of the thoughts that everyone else is having more fun than I am, all coupled up.

CV said...

Amen! So..uh..yeah..I miss YOU on these nights, and you burned down my john-candle (that used to be my proxy for a husband)! But tonight I lit the shabbat candles instead, which was fine, and N got an extra chapter of 'Ramona the Brave.'

I totally hear you on the sick kid in the night loneliness, too. At least it makes the regular nights with no barfing kid seem like a bonus.

How about the kid wakes you up at 1 a.m for a drink of water, goes back to sleep and leaves you wide awake? And you feel the acute loneliness of not being able to crawl back into bed with someone you can wake up for some knoodling? (Can you say, 'it's 2 a.m in Boston right now and CV is reading your blog!?! I rest my case.)

Saw your fb update. Sorry about the movie mishap.

OTRgirl said...

Between July and September last year, Jrex was gone for 2 months dealing with his Dad. It was HARD. I'd given all my single friends stupid speeches about what's good about singleness, but all of a sudden the evenings just stretched out in front of me.

Nothing profound to say, just acknowledging that, while I may not have empathy, I certainly have sympathy.

Watercolor said...

Yeah. When all the married couples do things with other married couples and we single folk do laundry.... sigh.

jaycosnett said...

"I've gotten to the point where on these evenings, I no longer miss John as much as I miss having a companion with whom to share the chores and watch the film. It's more about longing now than grief."

I feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

My husband leaves for work at 630 in the morning and gets home around 7 at night (we have two toddlers) and I mentioned to him the other day that being a stay at home mom is a lonely life. I realize after reading your post that I have nothing to complain about. I have him at night and he is a wonderful Dad and very attentive on the weekends. I hope you find that someone special again.

Alayna said...

Not much to add that others haven't said, but still just so sorry that you have to go through all this. If you ever need a hand in the middle of the night, feel free to call us! Seriously. We're used to being up at all hours anyway :)

Vanessa said...

Here's the funny thing: If someone asks me what I did on Saturday night, and I say I did laundry and watched movies (which I did), I get reactions ranging from a sympathetic look to a blunt "You need to get out more." But when my husband was alive, we often did laundry and watched movies on Saturday nights, and no one ever said anything. I'm curious why the exact same activity was fine then and is somehow lacking now. I'm guessing it's because I'm supposed to be out there finding a new man ... so we can get married and stay home doing laundry, etc. People are strange.

And I'm totally with you on the sick kids in the middle of the night. The hard part for me is when I have to decide whether or not the illness or injury requires a trip to the ER, as on the recent night when my daughter slipped in the bathroom and smacked her head a good one just before bedtime. I ended up deciding that she would be fine, and she was, but I didn't sleep much that night as I kept getting up to check on her.

Joannah said...

I was single until a month before my 40th birthday and so I was well acquainted with those kinds of Friday and Saturday nights. After I was married, I oftentimes found myself at home alone because my husband was a musician and he usually had gigs then. But every Friday or Saturday night that he wasn't working was precious to me. It didn't matter if we stayed in or went out. Just being together was delicious. Now that he's gone, every night is too quiet, too empty without him. I wish it could always be afternoon.

Diane said...

Snick, it sounds like you are ready for dating.

Anonymous said...

I so hear you.. I have 3 great kids but there are many nights I am lonely. Hubby works in the city as a Firefighter and is gone half the time.

Not the same I know but I get what you are feeling. It sucks..

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Snickollet said...

@Diane:

Trying! It's not easy!

-snick

Jen said...

Driving home from a long weekend away with my daughter tonight, I was ruminating on this same question: what are the hardest things for me to face as a widow, two+ years out? My quiet evenings at home are rather pleasant for me, too. But returning to an empty house on a Sunday evening, managing dinner, bedtime, unpacking, preparing for Monday morning, ... yuck. On top of that, tonight is garbage/recycling night, which my husband always took care of. I hate doing it, just hate it.

Snickollet said...

@Jen:

GARBAGE/RECYCLING NIGHT IS THE WORST.

I totally feel your pain.

-snick

Katherine said...

Widowed 4 years, with two kids, I totally feel you on the Friday/Saturday night loneliness. I thought it would be easier now, as my kids are older (12 & 15) but it's actually getting HARDER, as THEY have activities on the weekends which 1) often occur with little advance planning, just some last minute texting, and 2) often involve my chauffeuring them to and fro. It's great that I can now leave them both for a little while if I want a quick dinner or movie with a friend (I really don't like to leave them home alone for a long time, as I feel it's lonely FOR THEM with no other parent around). But if my older child goes out spontaneously, then I cancel plans so that my younger child isn't home alone. I'd love to date but haven't yet found a man whose idea of a great date is sitting around my house waiting for the kids to figure out their schedules and then chaperoning them!!

Rev Dr Mom said...

I so get what you are talking about.

Now that I have an empty nest, I oscillate between reveling in the freedom from being accountable to anyone at home and missing having anyone to be accountable to.

Jen said...

i totally miss you. just wanted to let you know.

jen