Archive for August, 2011

Home Alone

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

– Angela Schwindt

Eerily quiet, the house is.

(No, I am not converting to Yoda speak, but I should admit it works for me, at least for better emphasis.)

I bet the apparent lack of noise from our house for the last two weeks must be quite disconcerting to our neighbours. No, the kids have not yet flown the nest; empty nest syndrome is still a decade away for me.

Neither have I auctioned the kids on e-Bay…..erm, not yet. Well, school holidays do seem to bring all kinds of weird behaviour in parents and in some, as our Geelong mother would agree, a rather warped sense of humour.

Well, coming back to the post, the kids have gone to Melbourne to spend the school holidays with their cousins. Very simple it sounds…..but not so simple was the aftermath of our decision.

Two weeks ago

Like all other Kryptonian mothers out there, I too was resigned to spending most of my time juggling plenty of balls in the air and whingeing the rest of the time, about being exhausted.

To say mornings in our house were chaotic would be an understatement – everyday without exception, the house looked like being hit by a tornado. I should say my husband and I started each morning with a miracle; getting the kids ready for school without having a stroke in the midst of all the shouting matches was indeed something to be silently grateful for.

Something or the other constantly grew roots on our couch – if it weren’t for our technology addicted kids in front of the LCD screen, it was half-eaten food crumbs, wrappers, dirty plates, drink cups or socks. The house usually in varying states of disarray left me constantly exhausted, fractious and often staggered by the amount of work, two brats under ten can generate every single day of the week.

Above the inordinate amount of cleaning, washing and chauffeuring I had to do, it was the noise that usually drove me nuts. Not a day passed without the kids having a squabble over something or a fight for the TV remote, throw Dad into the fighting pit for his daily dose of news; it can get seriously ugly at home.

Dinner time, bed time, well to be honest every other time was a noisy affair at our house. The house did have noise insulation but unfortunately it was simplex in nature – only parents’ voices were filtered and never got through to the kids.

School Holidays

So naturally when my husband came up with this brilliant idea of offloading the sources of the noise for a couple of weeks to his brother’s, I greeted it with great enthusiasm. We drew up a list of what we were going to do during our two weeks of quiet and peace and I have to admit the list kept growing longer and longer by the impending hour of the kids’ departure. Very soon, the kids were dropped off at their cousins and we came home to a haven of tranquillity.

A day or two passed, everything was still in its place as day one – no bedclothes out of place, no dirty plates in sight, no overflowing laundry baskets, no vacuuming either. And above all no noise; by now we should have been simply overjoyed and ecstatic at the life of leisure and normalcy we had without the kids. But in reality, did we??

Very soon our sanctuary of peace and quiet was becoming too stifling for us, the monotony of the days was getting to us without the kids to break it or infuse the old sense of excitement into our lives. And thanks to the profusion of carbon tax in the media, the TV remote lay unclaimed. The house still remained clean but hopelessly empty, as if its very soul had gone into hiding.

We got to do the things we wanted – we fitted in dinners, drinks, movies, entertaining friends and even a weekend trip to Adelaide, but somehow there was not the imagined exuberance in it, but just the motions of completing a list that we had drawn up. As there was no pressing need to be at home at the said time, there were longer days at work. We hardly cooked, there were more and more takeaways or eating outside –no timelines, no routines to guide us and above all we both had this sense of free-falling or should I say failing? We even started missing the incessant noise and chatter that served as a backdrop to every single activity we did as a family.

Any modicum of work life balance that we seemed to have flew out of the window the minute the kids quit the scene. It was quite a revelation when we came to realise the routines and family rituals that we had put in place helped us parents more than the kids. Funnily enough without the kids to structure our time and life, things were increasingly chaotic than before. Suddenly we found ourselves adrift in the ocean of our lives without the kids to steer our course.

Two weeks seemed to stretch to an eternity and we were all ready to call it quits to our newfound bohemian style of living. We not only had selective amnesia about life pre-kids, but also it looked like we simply had lost the capacity to enjoy leisure and life guilt-free without the children in tow. The break that we had much anticipated for now seemed more like a sentence to us and we could not wait for them to come home soon.

Isn’t it ironical we spend the first 25 years of our life being moulded by our parents and then the next 25 by our children? I do not know if other parents are in the same boat as us, but it looks like we find our identity as parents more gratifying than any other identity we might take.

Yes, when the two weeks are up, I will resume my role as a juggling parent and even resort to the cardinal sin of whingeing….. but then we all know I would not have it any other way, right???


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