Having some time on my own is wonderful. I’ve already stopped calling it “free time” because it’s been very busy time, mostly full of very exciting things like folding laundry and sweeping the floor. I actually am having trouble figuring out how to fit all of the things I want to do with this time into the time that I have. My to-do list is longer than the hours I have available. Eventually, I’ll figure out what is important enough to get my attention and what will need to be put off (but it’s a little overwhelming while I figure it out, because everything feels like IT MUST GET DONE).
Oddly, though, I am feeling overwhelmed and aimless at the same time. While I have a ton of stuff to do, some exciting, some mundane, some essential, there’s also an odd sensation of drifting. I have lots to do, but I’m totally on my own while I do it. Instead of weaving every moment of my day around the whims, tantrums and snack schedules of two little people, I’m independent. That’s liberating, but also lacking in definition and direction.
While it’s nice having time to myself, it’s also lonely, and it feels a little . . . useless, maybe? After being “on” as a mom every minute, and filling my time with menial but important tasks like folding laundry and changing diapers, running errands at the mall or sitting down for a solitary coffee feels pleasant (in that there’s less poop involved) but a little . . . superfluous. It’s a strange sensation. I’m not working, I’m not taking care of the kids, I’m not devoting every minute to the household . . . so what AM I doing?
So, I think I’m starting to get it. I think this is what I’ve heard other expat “trailing spouses” talk about. There is some sadness, a slight loneliness, a vague panic of being on my own. It’s not being “alone” — after 5 years of almost never having solitude, I find the alone part of it very peaceful. It’s a kind of pressure, an expectation. Now that I actually have time to myself, what am I going to make of it? What am I going to do? I have no excuses for not squeezing every bit out of being here now … but what does that even mean?
So, I’m a little overwhelmed. On the one hand, I don’t want to spend every minute that the kids are in school folding laundry and going to the grocery store. On the other hand, I want to feel useful. This is a whole new world for me. I think it’s going to take a while to sort it all out.