Mid-pandemic I sent a text to my Boston friends saying “Check on your only child friend, she is not OK.”
I’ve written about how hard it is to have an only child during this pandemic, but man has it been hard to be an only child this year.
I feel there are two types of only children: those that grow up to crave togetherness (Mr. KK) and those people who loved – and still love – alone time (me!).
I loved growing up an only child. I was never bored. I entertained myself for hours, and I brought that special talent into adulthood. Before kids, I would spend an entire day by myself: cooking, reading, shopping, doing things around the house, and simply enjoying time alone. It didn’t matter if I spoke with anyone the whole day because I would often find myself having faux conversations with myself.
When the Little Mister was still little, I relished nap time because that became my “alone time”. Also, when I could sneak away for a few hours on the weekends to wander around a few stores, it was heaven. I even counted my time at barre class or kickboxing “kk time”.
Fast forward to 2020, and all of that alone time just vanished. Poof! I wasn’t leaving the house to go shopping. Poof! All kickboxing classes became virtual. Poof! Nap time was just a distant memory. I was spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with other people. I couldn’t find 5 minutes alone, let alone a full hour!
At work, we were encouraged to take our vacation time. For what? I would think. What the heck am I going to do? Where the heck am I going to go?
As someone who worked from home before it was required, I would have 8 hours to myself each day. Rocco was with me, but he was small and quiet, and usually spent the better part of the day curled up behind me on my chair. But now, there is always someone home – and at times, multiple someones. We brought Bruno into the mix, and boy are puppies needy (and does that teething stage every end? This dog is part goat, he chews everything in sight!) Gone were the long stretches of time when there was just silence. Part of my job is content creation: blog posts, website pages, marketing materials. The quieter it is, the more productive I am. Now, however, I find myself trying to multitask writing and keeping one eye on the puppy while shouting things like, “No!” and “Leave it!” and “We don’t eat chairs!”
I had to work hard to find “alone time” this year, outside of the work day. I started waking up extra early and reading quietly in the darkness before it was time to start the day. I was reading a few books a week and I felt a little more like myself. I scheduled “work out” time a few days a week. I started taking walks, just to get away from my computer and to be lost in my own thoughts. I solve a lot of problems of the world during my alone time.
Just last week, Mr. KK – whose makeshift ‘office’ was a desk in our kitchen – moved into the back office with me. It’s a small room to begin with, and now it has twice the amount of furniture (and bodies!), and boy is it cozy! I haven’t shared an office with some one in a very long time. We’re finding our groove when one of us has a call, I’m trying to reduce the amount of reading aloud I do when writing, and Mr. KK is working on reining in his ‘sighs’ while working.
I miss being alone sometimes. And if you don’t like being alone, it’s hard to understand. But I like my small doses of solitude. They keep me sane. And that has been the hardest struggle for me this year. Being the best me I can be, while still being good to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I will cherish all of this family time. Mr. KK and I have found our groove of working from home together. Our Little Mister seems happier because we’re always around. We’ve played lots of games, watched lots of movies, drawn so many pictures.
And now that the weather is turning colder we’ll find ourselves in the house even more. We already weren’t going anywhere, now we won’t even be able to hand out on the patio with friends (or, in my case, to sit down outside alone and read for a half hour).
Only children, I see you. And I feel for you.
Now if you need me, I’ll be hiding in the bathroom. Shhhh…