Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alone

A little-known fact about me is that I've been here in Sharjah by myself for almost two weeks. Jeremy and the girls left for the US at the beginning of July. Needless to say, this Me Party is pretty epic.

It's not all fun and games, of course. Or rather, it's not all novel-reading and BBC-miniseries-watching (but there is a lot of that). The whole reason I stayed behind was to finish up this summer course I'm taking. The grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins in the US have been slavering to see the girls - and, to a lesser extent, us - so we decided that Jeremy would take Miriam and Magdalena to Utah/Idaho to visit his family and bask in all the familial reunionness while I am busy with my class work.

By the time I see my husband and kids again, it will have been two weeks - our longest separation ever, by far. Here are some reflections on being all by my lonesome for two weeks.

I went three whole days without touching anyone. You either get why this is a big deal, or you don't. If you don't get it, ask the next mother of small children you see to remember the last 24-hour period in which she did not touch anyone. She will not be able to recall such a period. I had mixed feelings about not touching anyone for so long. In a way, it was wonderfully restorative. In another way, it was unsettling. Humans need touch. (It would have been a much longer period of no-touchy, by the way, if I hadn't attended that Arabian wake.)

I haven't listened to so much music in YEARS. The house was so silent that I found myself seeking out opportunities to listen to music, and to sing along out loud. I eventually settled on opera music. Did you know you can listen to/watch the entirety of Tosca on YouTube? I also listened to pretty much everything Kyle Landry has ever uploaded on YouTube, except for the weird anime stuff. And then I cycled through the Recommended Videos sidebar trap on YouTube, going through endless permutations of Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Kansas, Boston, Glee covers, etc.

I became semi-nocturnal. I hate being alone at night. So I started staying up until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning doing projects or working or reading. Just because I could. During the day, if I got tired from my late hours, I took a nap. Can you imagine?

I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I got hungry. This is another mom fantasy, probably.

I had irrational thoughts about all the horrible trouble my kids could get into if I'm not with them. This led to me getting out of bed in the middle of the night to send Jeremy an email to remind him of that one staircase in his parents' house that doesn't have a railing on it and to make sure the girls stayed away from it. I also find myself worrying that Miriam is going to forget how to read, or Magdalena will become un-potty-trained, just because I'm not there.

I spent way too long on my assignments. It's amazing how much more time I will spend on class assignments, when I have the time. This is not entirely a good thing, because I'm not sure the quality is better. When the kids are around, it's pretty much "finish this assignment in the next three hours or finish it never." Since they've been gone, I can spend a few hours on it today, a couple more tomorrow, a few more the next day if I need to...It never ends!

Anyway, it's been kind of a surreal experience. I'd like to publicly thank Jeremy for going solo for two weeks, including an international plane journey. He's also been diligent about providing me with pictures and videos, including this one of Magdalena that I cannot stop watching.

Please someone who knows how to make those repeating animated gifs: 0:11-0:12, if you don't mind.

21 comments:

  1. Ummmm.....You'll have to write an entire post on what it's like to take that long international flight to the U.S. ALL BY YOURSELF!!!

    (My boys recently spent a few days at my parents' house a couple of weeks ago, and I felt...well...isolated. But it's a restorative isolation.)

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  2. Rest up honey because there is lots of touchy non-alone time waiting for you here! Plenty of bum wiping, back and arm scratching, clothes changing, project making, face wiping, hand washing, snot harvesting, stinking clothes gathering / washing, carry me up the stairs because I am too tired, car seat entries and exits, where are my shoes, why do my feet stink and have sap on them, can we rough-house, don't brush my hair, I forgot to wash my hands, I need help putting on panties, I pooped in my jammies, I peed in my pants and jammies, and more are all waiting FOR YOU! :)

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    Replies
    1. Wait, so Magdalena DID become un-potty-trained??!?!?!

      I...can't wait to get back...

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    2. Oh and I forgot to mention the joys of bath time. :)

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    3. No, Majd is ok, she just had a #2 accident camping. She also gets really excited jumping on the trampoline and has little #1 accidents before she realizes action is needed. :)

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    4. Yeah, well, that happens to me on the trampoline sometimes too.

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  3. That is amazing. And I agree with Jen - I want to hear all about that international flight experience by yourself!

    I can't remember a time when I went that long without being touched. Ever. And I'm just so jealous that nobody has asked you do anything for them - nobody has asked you for a drink or a snack, and nobody has asked you about the gravity on Jupiter, or why a goat is a goat.

    I seriously want to be you right now.

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  4. I want your flight...we were just imagining a flight with ten movies and then I want the comparison to Jeremy's flight alone with two kids :). I like that you started with not having been touched. I was in the pool yesterday, three kids on me (would have been four if not for my sweet mom). I kept trying to shake them off and they just kept getting back on. This feeling of panic was rising and I was having a vision of swatting them all off with screaming and tears...but I'm a mom so I kept my cool because how do you explain to the kids that sometimes you just can't stand when they touch you :(

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  5. Hahaha! What a funny video (and girl)!

    Also, I totally know what you mean about not being touched for 3 days. Or I guess I should say, the thought kind of blows my mind.

    Have fun during the rest of your alone time and have a great time in the US!

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  6. Voila: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/1189942/Uploaded/magdalena_thing.gif

    (Stupid watermark won't go away though… at least you know where I did it :) )

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  7. Hi from Finland - been reading your blog for a while, it's so interesting to read how we all live such different lives around the globe.

    Me for instance; single for most of my life, no kids, no family/relatives close by -- and while reading this post I realized I don't remember the last time I *was* touched by anyone....I'm currently on my four week summer vacation, and probably won't even speak to anyone during this time ;)

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    Replies
    1. So interesting to hear the other side :).

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  8. I realize this comment might sound socially/culturally ignorant, but I can't help but ask - are there any problems with a married woman leaving the country without her husband? Like do you need Jeremy's permission, or will he be notified? I'm genuinely curious, and if that's horribly offensive, please delete this comment and still be my friend. :)

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    Replies
    1. Not ignorant at all. In the UAE, as far as I know, there is no problem with me traveling w/o Jeremy. However, when my kids left the country (like minutes after passing through passport control), I got an SMS from the Ministry of Immigration telling me that they were leaving Dubai. That was neat.

      In Syria when I traveled internationally by myself, I kept a letter from Jeremy with me, but no one asked to see it. Actually, a guy at the airport interviewed (interrogated?) me about my intentions but again, he didn't ask to see the letter so I must have seemed legit.

      So you see? It wasn't a crazy question at all.

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    2. Correction: I got an SMS from "MOI," which I initially interpreted as Ministry of Immigration, but I don't think there is such a thing. So...Ministry of...Interior? Probably.

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    3. So did Jeremy get a text when they left the country, too? Did he get one when you left? I'm so curious about this whole thing.

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    4. A blogger friend who lives in Abu Dhabi has complained how her husband got a text when she left, but maybe they've changed things since she blogged about it. I'm curious, too.

      I only saw this post late last night so I read it right before bed, and I think I had dreams of Bridget traveling alone for 24+ hours after being alone in the UAE for all those days and woke up super-duper impressed. Yet again! :)

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    5. When I left, I got a text telling me that I had left. So helpful. I kind of like the idea of knowing if my kids leave the country. It could come in handy once they're teenagers. :)

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  9. Oooooh. My favorite would be eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, straight through. Without having to get up and get anybody anything, or beg someone to eat, or for them to stop doing x,y,z., or hearing them complain about the food, etc. etc. etc. Oh! and you could read your book and listen to whatever you wanted while you were eating, with no one touching you. Nice, Enjoy!

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  10. I got off work today to find out that instead of keeping my kids awake, the sitters out the kids down at their respective houses... So I will be about 49 hours kid and husband free. There's still a lot of touching for my work though. And poo. And blood. So slightly less music- and BBC-filled than your experience.

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I had to disallow anonymous comments because of all the spam I was getting. Sorry!

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