Motherhood and the Summer of Deprogramming: Week 2

paint brushes

Last week, I wrote about my first week of deprogramming and the emptiness: the space the kids left behind as they went off for a summer of adventure at sleep away camp, leaving my husband and I home alone and childless. I also wrote about my revelation: apparently I have become boring and bored since I couldn’t figure what to do with this precious time I finally had to myself.

Well, week 2 was quite different from week 1.

Week 2 I remembered what it was like to have a social life and to go straight out after work for a drink and a bite to eat with friends. Talking, laughter, relaxation, connection.

Week 2 involved spontaneity, deciding at the last-minute what to do, where to eat. That’s novel!

Week 2 also involved barely needing to run the dishwasher, negligible grocery shopping, minimal laundry, going to bed later than 10pm and waking up whenever I wanted to wake up.

Yes, I still missed the kids enormously but it was less. Less lump in throat inducing, less – dare I say it – desperate? Yes, I still made a point each morning of wandering into each of their bedrooms, inhaling, looking around, trying to capture a fleeting sense of their presence. But I’ll also admit they were not on mind nearly as much. I’m not ashamed to say even a day would go by without talking or thinking about them.

In truth, this week was fun. And busy. And tiring!

So here are my two revelations from week 2 of deprogramming:

Revelation 1: My kids don’t need me as much, right now. And that’s OK. They don’t need me to organize them, to anticipate what’s next, to be their audience, their sounding board, their emotional crutch or target for whining and neediness. They are learning independence and decision-making and it’s all good. Sure, when they are back, they’ll need me for all the usual stuff: back to school supplies, arranging playdates and activities and general chauffeuring duties. But right now, I’m ok with not being needed. In fact, it’s refreshing.

Revelation 2: I figured out how not to be boring! When I realized last week that I have no interests, I thought, what a loser I am! So I set about focusing on what used to make me really happy and what gives me peace. And I landed on two things: dancing and art.

I love dancing but, as a parent, it rarely happens anymore other than the occasional spontaneous dancefest at breakfast or slow-dancing with my kid to Careless Whispers every night for a week after George Michael died. Well, what do you know: Boston Salsa Festival is coming to town precisely when my husband and kids will be out-of-town in a few weeks – it’s a weekend of workshops, performances and social dancing. Count. Me. In. Immersing myself in dance for a weekend is precisely the kind of kick up my butt I need to get that groove back on.

Then I thought about how I felt recently when accompanying my son to one of those paint places – the zen I felt selecting and mixing colors, dipping my brush in paint and sweeping it across a canvas. Now, I’m no natural-born artist like my son, but it’s worth taking some classes to explore this further. So I’m going to sign up for some adult art classes in the fall.

And now here we are, week 3 is starting: what new revelations will it bring? This deprogramming business is good for me, methinks. Stay tuned.

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