One phrase kept running through my mind: deeply restorative. It struck me as rather odd and so I kept mulling.
Being alone at home was deeply restorative.
And then I realized, if being home alone is deeply restorative, then there must be something that needs restoring, deeply.
Or, should I say, who?
Since I finished graduate school in 1996 and became a stay-at-home mom to two children, and then a homeschooling mom a year later, I have had very little time at home by myself. As in, virtually none. Until this school year, the hours could probably be counted on one hand.
That's a long time to not be alone in one's own house!
Have I mentioned that I'm an introvert?
I also rarely went out alone for many years.
In 2008, the year my youngest was born, my oldest left for college and my next oldest was not yet old enough to babysit. That year I took six children with me everywhere I went, four of them five and under. I still have some form of "PTSD" when I'm out and see a mom with several little children. I recently had to leave the library because a newborn was crying inconsolably and it was making me anxious and upset.
Understandably, I was rather excited one day about a month ago when I got the opportunity to be home for nearly three hours by myself. I ate lunch and organized my closet, but also chatted with Beowulf via Facebook and spent some time online. As my time ended, I felt that, while it had been wonderful to actually do a task with no interruptions, I hadn't really been alone because of being on the computer.
That was a dry run for a day the following week, when I got the chance to spend the entire school day at home by myself. An absolutely delicious six hours, which probably doubled the amount of time I'd ever been home by myself. I did whatever I felt like doing, including watching a German movie I'd had from Netflix for a while. I did not really spend any time online. And it was...
Restorative: adj. 1) serving to restore; pertaining to restoration. 2) capable of renewing health or strength.
Restore: v. 1) to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish. 2) to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition. 3) to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.
Restoration: n. 1) the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment. 2) the state or fact of being restored. 3) a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition. 4) restitution of something taken away or lost. *
We stopped homeschooling as a way of life this year because I was incredibly burned out. When I got to the point of not even wanting to think about homeschooling, I knew it was time. But what I'm discovering is that the burnout didn't just concern homeschooling, and it didn't go away with putting the children in school. It has apparently extended to the practice of my Catholic faith, cooking, cleaning (all except decluttering, interestingly enough), laundry...
At the end of my day alone, I thought, "A thousand more days like that and I'll be good."
Three years alone to recover from seventeen years of intensive, all-consuming parenting and homeschooling? Sounds about right. It would be -
* Definitions from dictionary.com. They are not complete; I only used what I felt applied.