Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and surprise surprise, I’m not hanging from my shower rod. That may be a bit extreme but I swear, if you’re single on Valentine’s Day people automatically assume that you’re going to spend the holiday curled up in bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a baggie full of your favorite prescription meds on your night stand and a marathon of bad Lifetime movies on TV as you sob into your pillow, crying for the love that could have been. That’s not exactly how I choose to spend my days, ya know? Granted, there is that slight twinge of jealousy as my Facebook news feed fills with pictures of roses and candy but then my blue eyed cupid climbs into my lap and gives me a home made Valentine that proclaims in big, bold letters “I love you, Mommy” and all is right with my little world. Then she goes to bed and it’s just me and the boxed wine. For a few moments I sit in my dark living room, quiet except for the hum of the dishwasher in the kitchen and I take it all in. In that moment where it’s just me and the yappy little dog that has come to be my constant companion I am forced to take a look at who I really am. I’m a mommy, yes, but what else? I’m a daughter, a friend, a writer, a lover on rare occasions and a shopaholic when all else fails but down at the core, the deepest part of who I am, what else is there?
Prinny spent this past weekend with her father and for the life of me, I didn’t know what the heck to do with myself. He came and picked her up and six p.m. on Friday and I didn’t see my little princess until 5 p.m. on Sunday. I understand that this is what most custody arrangements consist of but this is incredibly new for us, and I’ll confess, I’m not sure if I like it or not. Everyone kept telling me “It will be good for you” or, my personal favorite, “You deserve a break” A break from what? Being a mommy? Why on Earth would I want a break from that? Prinny and her dad left and I swear, my house instantly felt three times larger. Normally filled with the sounds of laughter, barking dogs and slamming doors, all I heard was…nothing. I sat down in the middle of my living room floor and just kind of looked around for a moment, almost like a lost child. My baby was gone and I didn’t know what the heck to do. Our weekends are filled with cheerleading, playdates and trips to the bookstore. Faced with the idea of two whole days without her, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. So I cleaned the house, vacuumed the floors, organized my closets and took a nap for the first time since 2006. And I was bored out of my mind. Had it not required putting on pants that button, I might have gone out and found myself a man just so I wouldn’t have to be alone. But that required way too much effort so there I was, in my newly cleaned house, still reeking to the heavens of Pinesol and Febreeze when I had the overwhelming desire to just get out. I dug an old pair of running shoes out of my newly organized closet and literally ran away. Normally I wouldn’t run from a bear but that day I ran harder, faster, longer than I have in ages. It was if I was literally trying to outrun my loneliness; if I ran just one more mile, made it to the top of that hill, my thoughts and fears couldn’t catch up to me. When I finally came to a rest at the bottom of the hill, hands on my knees, my breath hanging in the cold air, I realized just how pathetic I was. I am so involved in my role as “mommy” that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be anything else. To be anyone else.
There was a time not so long ago when I asked myself what else life could give me. I was a mommy, but what else? I wanted more than motherhood had to offer. It’s hard to see in black and white but I was OK with the idea of being the less than perfect mommy if it meant having a career too, if it meant truly “having it all.” Now I am so wracked with guilt at the idea of missing yet another school party, another play date at the park or not tucking her in at night that I have thrown myself into the role of mommy, not yet reaching the idolized goal of June Cleaver but settling in somewhere between Old Mother Hubbard and the witch that tries to eat Jack and Jill before they boil her in the pot. It may not the highest of aspirations but for the moment, it’s a place both Prinny and I are comfortable with. I still burn cookies and forget to sign permission slips but I’m home at night to read her a story and that’s all that matters to me right now, everything else will fall into place. So now that I’ve got the mommy part of me taken care of, what about the rest?
Women do strange things when faced with fear and desperation and Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year where our paranoia about being the lonely old woman with the cats is magnified to gargantuan proportions. I have a girlfriend that is so terrified of being alone that she recently slept with a man because he bought her a coffee maker. Granted it was one of the really shiny, high end coffee makers that makes the perfect espresso with a touch of the button but my lord, what would she have done if he had bought her a set of those infomercial steak knives that cut through shoe leather? Are we really that desperate for companionship, our standards that low, that we throw ourselves at the closest thing with a pulse? All so we don’t have to be alone? Both Friday and Saturday night I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling and having conversation after conversation with God and I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t always pretty. There were moments of self doubt, insecurity, thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. In those quiet hours of being alone in the darkness I realized that I would rather go to bed alone, by myself, questioning who I am than questioning who the stranger is next to me. Yes, it is uncomfortable and painful at times but examining who we are as women is the only way we’re going to get to know ourselves. And getting to know myself, what I really want out of life, what I need, is worth more to me than all the heart shaped boxes of chocolates in the world.0