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.