I have a question for all you parents out there: Do you remember "alone"?
I don't mean those five solo minutes you managed to snag in the bathroom before being found, or that 45-minute interlude between the time the kids fell asleep and you conked out on the sofa in the middle of "Law and Order." I'm talking pure, unadulterated aloneness: a house devoid of offspring for longer than the hours in a school day.
In a few weeks, for the first time in 26 years, I'm going to be living alone for six solid days. Well, that's a slight exaggeration. I will have the company of two chatty cats and two rambunctious dogs. But as far as two-leggers go, this biped will be flying solo.
My daughter Melissa, my last child at home, will be spending a week in Germany with a group of her fellow high school music students. When the trip was proposed last spring it sounded fun. A few nights ago, as Melissa and I sat in a meeting for Germany bound students and their parents, the trip sounded real. My child is going to board a plane bound for a foreign country while I remain here, exploring an uncharted territory of my own: being responsible only for myself.
It will be a bite-sized preview of what my life will be like next fall, when Melissa makes the big move to a college in Minnesota. Up to now my three kids and I have lived most of our lives within the same zip code, and each of them has lived most of their years under the same roof as me.
But ready or not, my role as Mama Bird will shrink significantly once my last baby flies the nest. No more assigning chores or setting curfews. No more laying down the law or scooping up stray sneakers.
I'll buy groceries to suit only my taste. I won't have to share the T.V. remote control or space in the medicine cabinet. The car will be mine alone - as will the car radio station presets. I won't have to log off of Facebook so someone can finish their English essay, or be awakened after midnight by a son or daughter letting me know they've made it safely home after their night out.
Well, this is going to be weird.
The irony of parenting is that you spend years teaching your children to become independent, then cry like a baby when they finally leave you. We want them to sleep through the night, tie their own shoes, make their own sandwiches, move on, move up, move out.
Doggone it, though - does it have to happen so fast?
If I think of alone as being without, I'll dissolve into a teary lump of Poor Me faster than you can say "Get over it, already."
But if I think of alone as the desirable yet elusive state I craved during all those years spent scooping Legos off the floor and tucking fruit snacks into lunch pails, I feel liberated.
Bring on the Lucky Charms for dinner and the Phil Collins played full blast at all hours.
Come right on in, Alone. I remember you. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com.