You are here

When was the last time you were alone? (Like REALLY alone)

Erin Zammett Ruddy

On Saturday night Nick went out for a guys’ dinner with my brother in law and I stayed home with Alex and Nora. Happily. The kids went to bed soon after Nick left and then I had the house to myself. I ate pad thai, drank a glass (OK, two) of wine, sat in front of a roaring fire, watched a super-cheesy romantic comedy (so cheesy I won’t tell you the name) and enjoyed the silence. There was no one to talk to, no one to listen to, no one up in my grill. And you know what? It was the best Saturday night I’ve had in a long time. And I’ve had some good ones lately.


My pad thai arrived while I was reading Alex The Little Engine That Could. He insisted on coming downstairs to see who was at the door and I let him. He was, as always, very chatty: “Hi, I’m Alex, Daddy said I couldn’t have a sleepover at Andrew’s house but I really wanted to but I didn’t so I’m home and it’s way way way past my bedtime so I need to go to bed,” he said. (It was 7:45 but sometimes I tell him it’s super late because it works—plus he hadn’t had a nap.) The delivery guy said “hi” and “good boy” and then just laughed because he didn’t understand a word Alex was saying and Alex kept on jabbering. Then Alex asked me why that guy was laughing at him.


Back upstairs I shaved a line or two from every page, eager to get to my dinner (and knowing how exhausted Al was). And, finally,  “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could. The End.” Once I turned out the light, I had to make up a story for Alex, which is our nightly ritual. These days it’s a tale of two little fisherman (named Alex and Andrew, naturally) and at first they throw the giant fish back to sea and then they catch it again and filet it and pan sear it and serve it with butter. I like to give him options! Anyway, as I walked out of his room, the smell of my awesome takeout wafting up from the kitchen, I may have done a little fist pump. Because I was pumped.


In the living room a fire was crackling (Nick had started it before he left and brought in enough wood so I could keep it going) and jazz was playing on the iPod. I poured myself a glass of chardonnay and felt so so so content. And I realized just how long it had been since I was alone. Granted my kids were asleep upstairs but I felt alone. In my cozy house. Sure I work here, but there is almost always another body in the house with me, making noise. Nora or Nora and her babysitter, or the whole damn gang. It’s not like I’m a huge fan of being alone, either. I get scared about the tiniest things (I once made Nick come home from work because I thought I heard an animal upstairs and it turned out to be a balloon getting stuck in Alex’s ceiling fan). Nick was away two weekends ago and I slept at my parents’ one night with both kids and the other night my friend, Erin, came out from the city and slept over. (Thanks, Er!) But every once in a while, some solo time--with no agenda--is just what the doctor ordered.


The truth is, I get out without my kids enough and I see my friends quite a bit and I'm always with my family (see photo above), but this was different. I got to do exactly what I wanted to do, without having to worry about anyone else’s needs. If Nick were with me we would have had a great night too, but we wouldn’t have watched that silly movie and we wouldn’t have eaten veggie pad thai (he feels like if a dish doesn’t have some type of meat, it’s not a meal). Nick and I have flexible work schedules so we get to be together as a family every morning until at least 9 and every evening from 5 on. And he usually comes home for lunch or I pop by his office to fax something. In other words, we see a lot of each other. We like this. We are lucky. But sometimes it goes a little far. Like last night when the kids were playing and I went upstairs to shower and the next thing I know, Nick walks into the bathroom and starts asking me about my day. I was like, “Seriously? Babe, I love you, but I would also love to shower by myself and have five minutes of quiet before the dinner madness begins. Get the $%&$! out!” He laughed and left. This is how we roll though, always together, always with one kid or both, slightly codependent. And I love that about us, but I also realized that I miss having some time to be completely alone and do exactly what I want to do. Or not do what I don’t want to do.


As I sat in the silence (the movie was pretty bad so I barely paid attention) I came up with an idea for my next project—fun! And let my mind wander to a million places it hasn’t been in a while. At one point the fire was fizzling out so I used all the stuffing and tissue paper from two shoe boxes I had bought earlier that day to help bring it back to life. And I did. I felt like a cool, resourceful woman and I laughed out loud at myself. I enjoy my own company and I always have. At the risk of making you gag, it was kind of like reconnecting with an old friend. (OK, that's making me gag, but you know what I mean.) By 11 p.m. I was asleep--a full eight hours trumps alone time any day of the week--and I felt great. Like I said, best Saturday night in a long time.


When was the last time you were truly alone? How much alone time do you get? Do you make it a priority? I think I’m going to build more of that time into my life because I need it. What would be your ideal solo Saturday night?