I spend an extraordinary amount of time with just my almost-7-year-old-daughter. This is a lot like being around a very small dictator (without possibility of a coup) or being in a well-appointed detention center in which you have no control over the TV. These are not necessarily bad things (wine helps) but it does mean that many times, the only adult conversation in my house is the one in my own head.
I’m certainly around other adults at work – my work friends are great and do qualify as grown-ups. Most of the time. At school drop off and pick up, I may exchange a rushed or tired nod with other parents or a quick hello with the before/after care counselors. Sometimes, I even speak to an adult neighbor during our evening walk with the dog. But, outside of work, most of my conversations involve fairies, Wizards of Waverly Place, homework, Phineas & Ferb and wiping yourself. I’m sadly well-versed on Good Luck Charlie, Taylor Swift, Soul Surfer, unicorns and ponies. And you wonder why I love a nice glass of wine.
When my mother was still living, I called her daily. Okay, let’s be real. We talked 2-3 times a day. By choice. She used to joke that I called her in the morning just to be sure she was still alive. Not true, well, not entirely. But, it really was so nice to talk to someone who truly liked hearing from me. We talked every.single.night.
I would also talk to M usually after she did her nightly call to her mother. We certainly call out of our deep friendship but as single parents, you really just need to talk to another adult who can appreciate your life, listen to you bitch and talk about your day. Someone to share ideas or just ask “is that normal?” or “Can you believe that?” For me, that connection with another adult was like a lifeline.
Now that mom is gone, M and I still talk but it’s often quick (okay, quick for us is 30-minutes) as we’re faced with homework (our kids and our own), demanding pets, chores and daily life upkeep. And, then, silence. I’m alone with the laundry, those unfinished house projects that mock me, a lizard-eating cat and a dog with a severe under bite and anxiety. No wonder I started a blog.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I treasure the amazing time I spend with my daughter and overall, feel super lucky to do work I enjoy. But at the end of a long day, when I’m tired of being at the beck and call of a whole slew of people that I get paid to beck and call back or a bossy 2nd grader, it sure would be nice to talk to another adult who can commiserate. I’m lucky to have great friends and value the time I spend with them, but most weeknights and during chunks of the weekend my only company is either too little to ride in the front seat or has four legs and pees in the yard.
A couple times this weekend, the house was quiet – all the things that needed to be done were still sitting right there – waiting to be done. But, what I really wanted to do was hang with a friend. But, it was late and I didn’t have a sitter. The logistics alone can make an impromptu get-together worthy of seasoned event planner. It was the first time in a very long time that I was alone and a tad bit lonely. I have never believed that being alone was the same as being lonely and most nights, I relish that time right after my daughter goes to bed. For me, the knowledge that we are safe and sound in our home – a home that I alone I provided for my daughter – gives me immense satisfaction. But sometimes – just sometimes – you want some company.
That lonely feeling lasted just a moment. Not so long that I felt the need to dial up a friend for a virtual pity party. Just long enough for me to remember to enjoy the friend that was around. So, I found something that had to be done that didn’t completely annoy me. I put on some completely banal television show, poured myself a glass of wine and enjoyed my own company.
Would laundry and organizing my home office have been more fun with a friend? Absolutely. Would it have been great to be sitting with friends and talking about grown up things (or making fun of people) and sipping grown up drinks? You bet. But then I wouldn’t have found those old pictures that made me laugh. I wouldn’t have felt that sense of accomplishment over what I did all by myself.
If I have learned nothing else from being a single adult – and then single parent – it’s that you better like yourself and enjoy your own company. I’d like to think that I’m a better friend because of those things – that my friendships are not borne of desperation or fear of being alone but out of a real desire to know that person and spend time with them.
I would not venture to say that I am my own best friend. That just sounds downright creepy (and frankly, a wee bit pervy.) But, I can safely safe that I’m pretty cool to hang around with - even if I’m the only one who thinks so.