Every mom should have an occasion when the kids are away visiting grandparents and the spouse has a business trip. Dutifully tell them how you’ll miss them, whatever will you do without them, and rejoice in your good fortune as they pull out of the driveway. You think Kevin was adventurous when his parents left him home alone as they flew off to New York for the holidays? Or that Joel (Tom Cruise) had a good time with the house to himself in Risky Business? Those guys have nothing on the thrills mom can have*:
- Go ALL DAY without thinking of what’s for dinner. No one asks, “What are we having for dinner?” or when it will be ready. Whenever you happen to feel hungry, pour yourself some cold cereal and put your bowl away in the dishwasher when you’re finished. The usual ordeal of dinner prep and dinner clean up? Done and done.
- Alternately, anticipate the gourmet dinner you will prepare for yourself, something they would pick at or refuse altogether. Play Rachel Ray in your own kitchen, commenting about the fragrant herbs in the skillet, throwing in fresh green, red, and yellow peppers (“Eww!” they would say) and tossing it all with some spinach fettuccine. Top with cilantro. Take a taste and congratulate yourself in the same way all cooking shows show finish off with a flourish, enjoying those first tasty bites while you, the passive viewer, are left to drool and munch a stale saltine from the back of the pantry.
- Blow dry your hair wearing your underwear and have no fear of someone busting in and saying “Eww, Mom, put on some clothes!”
- Do the thankless tasks of which no one else in the household is even vaguely aware. Defrost the big freezer. Descale the coffee maker. Run the self-clean cycle on the oven. Change all the sheets right down to the mattress pads with no concern as to when anyone will need a bed for sleeping. Remove the refrigerator crisper drawer and wash it in warm, soapy water as recommended. Take the laundry room change bucket to the Coinstar machine and SPEND ALL THE PROCEEDS ON YOURSELF. Show restraint and discard only one of your husband’s old, ratty T-shirts from over 10 years ago. He’ll never miss it.
- Savor a moment when all the bath towels are washed, dried, and folded away.
- Netflix a movie with subtitles.
- Leave the TV on as you putter around the room without someone walking in, grabbing the remote and then asking, “Were you watching this?”
- Buy your groceries with a $20 bill and carry them out in two bags, tops.
- Apply that sample of the deep cleansing, beautifying clay mask you got with your last cosmetics purchase (provided it hasn’t dried up by now)
- Slip into deep REM sleep without being awakened by snoring or a kid who can’t sleep and thinks waking you will somehow help the situation.
- Arrange a pick up from the Salvation Army before anybody gets back to go through the discards and second guess your excellent judgment.
You know in your heart that this agenda holds all the promise of a plane ticket. Imagine the sheer decadence of having time to yourself in solitude, able to get caught up at home and mentally centered with no distractions or obligations. You feel a little guilty just thinking about it, don’t you?
It would be a pitiful indeed to live like this all the time, eating cold cereal and dining alone. But the best part of being home alone is reuniting with a new appreciation for loved ones and all the hubbub of a busy family. You’ll be refreshed and able to smile good naturedly when someone asks what’s for dinner. In the meantime, family, leave mom alone. Literally.
*Re: Risky Business – excepting, of course, the train ride