Alone time

by singlemomseeking on July 25, 2009

journal-taking_notes

“Maybe we should have some time apart this weekend,” I recently said to the Lucky Guy.

He looked hurt. “Time apart?”

Uh oh, that came out wrong.

What I meant was: it feels so good to hang out together as much as we can. Sometimes, I just want this certain moment to last forever and ever, unbroken. Yet these past couple of months have been so intense, between being evicted, house-hunting, parenting, working, carpooling, moving, — oh, and fitting in date nights — I haven’t slowed down and sat with myself.

But what I’ve noticed is this: if I don’t get just a bit of time to myself every day, I get out of sorts. I turn snappy and irritable, and it’s not pretty. The funny thing, however, is I can’t believe that I’m the one asking for some time and space to myself. Me, a woman who used to have such a hard time being alone.

If single motherhood has taught me anything, it’s how to be alone. As many of you pointed out on this blog six months ago, being alone is not the same as loneliness.

Not long ago, any stretch of time I had by myself used to feel so hard. Let’s say that my kid was off for an afternoon play date, and I had a few hours to myself. I just had to do something: Grocery shop, plan the week’s calendar, clean, schedule.

Why couldn’t I slow down? Blogging helped. So did walking. And calling girlfriends. In between, I had some good cries. Yet, I saw how badly I needed to be with myself, alone, even when it felt so dang hard.

Now that I’ve gotten used to having “me time,” however, I need it. Do you know what I mean?

Do you also need some time and space to yourself, a bit every day? Does it renew you, too?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

judy July 25, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Fire
by Judy Brown (that’s not me)

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost a surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

Reply

singlemomseeking July 26, 2009 at 9:02 am

Wow, Judy, love this poem. Thank you!!

So true: “too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost a surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.”

Reply

Mike July 25, 2009 at 5:43 pm

I need time to myself everyday or my stress starts building. It doesn’t have to be long, but I do need centering time. With relationships, I’ve fallen in love with a few women over the years and I would never want 24/7 time together. I would go nuts.

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bad mummy July 25, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Every time my mum comes for a short visit or Critter stays overnight, I realize that I do not do well in close quarters with other people. I need space of my own and time by myself. Lots of it.

It makes me fear that if I do meet someone, I will be too comfortable with being alone to risk any sort of attachment.

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MC July 26, 2009 at 4:25 am

Alone time is critical for me, too. And I can also relate to how being in a relationship starts to compress that–it makes me feel antsy and overloaded in a way that has nothing to do with how the relationship itself is going. Strangely, the increase in alone time after a breakup always makes it easier.

And I have found that most men I’ve dated have a hard time understanding this need–they always think it it is about them, no matter how I try to tell them! (Possibly because I haven’t dated men who have small children like I do.) If you tell them you have to catch up on some work, that’s cool. But if you tell them you need some time to just chill, they think you’re moody and probably because of them!

My evolving “list” of things to look for in a man now has on it that he can hear about my needs without assuming they’re all about himself. Ideally, I’d like to also find a man who I could be sometimes be “alone” with! I think a guy who reads might be good….

Since my kids were born, my alone time has been in the morning. Yes, I get up horrifyingly early (4 or 5 am)–but it’s worth it to read the news and have a cup of coffee all by myself, maybe take a stroll in the backyard. It’s the calm before the mad dash of getting everyone up and fed and ready and in the car and off to school and work.

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singlemomseeking July 26, 2009 at 9:01 am

@MC: Alone time is in the morning for me, too! Wow, you get up early…. Good for you. Yes, I often say, “I need to catch up,” which is code for needing some time to myself.

@badmummy: I’ve talked to my new guy about the fact that we’ve both been single for a long haul…. so we’re used to getting lots of time solo. I’ve had this fear, too: have I just gotten to used to being on my own? Perhaps it’s all about balance.

Reply

Anna July 26, 2009 at 8:38 am

@badmummy: my thoughts exactly. The last time my parents came fr a visit, the smallest things would bother me b/c I’ve become soooo used to doing things MY way. I hope this won’t cause problems with Mr. Future Man…

Alone time is ESSENTIAL. I’m so glad my little one is in summer enrichment 4 days a week!!

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April July 26, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Absolutely! Another blog just compiled a bunch of great quotes about what solitude can bring us. I think you’ll enjoy:

http://singletude.blogspot.com/2009/07/quotes-for-singles.html

Reply

MindyMom July 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I’ve always needed my alone time. Even during my marriage my husband traveled a lot and I always loved those breaks (hmmm…). Ever since becoming a single mom I’ve realized even more how precious that alone time is and I thouroughly enjoy it – and yes, even need it.

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Bobbi Janay July 26, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I have always been an alone time sort of person, this might be from being an only child. Now that I stay at home with Ian all day it si even harder to get.

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Susan July 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm

You are not “alone” in this need at all! I crave alone time, even just for a few minutes each day. Sometimes when I’m annoyed driving the half hour to or from work I remember that it actually helps me. My car? Not so much.

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T July 26, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Yeah. I get this. I think this is also why a long distance relationship is working for me right now.

We all need time to regroup, pull ourselves back together, process emotions, just…. BE.

It makes you a better partner in the end. Especially if you’ve had it so long and gotten used to your private time.

I’m sure LG gets this when he’s out on his long bike rides too…

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Martini Mom July 27, 2009 at 12:03 am

Absolutely! I stay up way too late every night just to get some alone time after my son is in bed. I have no idea how this is going to work when my long-distance relationship turns to no-distance. I’m prepared for some MAJOR adjustment pains! My man takes it personally sometimes now, but I think (hope) that’s just because we already have so little time together.

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Katherine SOLOdotmom July 27, 2009 at 9:18 am

I most definitely need my me-time… I just posted about it recently funny enough.

So yes I also ‘schedule’ it now when there was a day and time – i dreaded those weekends without the kids… now with a new guy in my life… I make plans to still get some me-time once-in a while… if I didn’t I would probably be a real bear to be around!

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singlemomseeking July 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Exactly @Katherine! I used to dread the kid-free time on the weekend, too… Now, I sometimes crave it. Great tip about how important it is to schedule that time for yourself, even if it feels awkward at first to jot in “me time.”

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QTMama July 27, 2009 at 9:21 am

Does it renew me? I dunno. I’ve spent the better part of the year alone, sort of just dating around, looking for some man I *want* to spend more than one date with.

But when I find out, I’ll let you know. :)

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theresa July 27, 2009 at 10:09 am

i can definitely relate, and it’s something i’ve been conflicted with since my daughter was born (she’s 19 months now).

her father/my significant other is very accomodating and always gives me the space and time when i ask for it, provided he is off from work and available to watch the little one. my problem is that i never ask for it. i deal with a lot of guilt about that — i work full time and spend a lot of time away from my baby so sometimes i don’t always feel like i’m entitled to that time to myself. the problem is, NOT having the time turns me into a really angry person and i find when i do ask for the time off, i’m much more pleasant and able to give more of myself to my daughter and s/o in return.

i just find it interesting that so many of us moms feel guilty or feel weird for needing that time alone, when obviously — just by reading this post and the comments to it alone — it’s something really common that a LOT of moms need!

anyway, thanks for your blog and for sharing everything you’ve been going through lately. =)

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singlemomseeking July 27, 2009 at 12:43 pm

How true @theresa! “so many of us moms feel guilty or feel weird for needing that time alone.”

It feels good to hear that we’re not alone, here?… For wanting some alone time!

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Love Coach Rinatta July 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Personally, I need lots of time alone to think and create and be and process. But at the same time, lots of time in a relationship to connect.

It is a balance and it’s good that you need time alone, very good. It shows that you have gotten healthy and that you value yourself.

However, I would be gentle with LG in the way time alone/apart is negotiated. Be gentle with his heart and he is more likely to be gentle with yours.

What works best for most stable couples is to negotiate an evening or two a week for alone time.

That way it’s already handle and you both can make other plans, even if those plans are being alone. This prevents ongoing hurt feelings over one partner wanting to be alone while the other one wants closenes.

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GLSD July 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I love my alone time. I get to read, get a mani/pedi, go for a walk, a long shower etc. I used to clean, do the laundry etc. I realized my alone time is for ME and I use it for ME.

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Kat Wilder July 30, 2009 at 7:24 am

Everyone needs time alone! I think one of the worst things couples do is not make the time to have that. I know when you’re early on in a relationship, the tendency is to want to spend every waking moment together (and, well, even the sleeping ones, too!)

People who can’t happily be alone need to explore why. If all they feel is loneliness, that’s a sign that there’s a bigger issue going on.

I am not a loner, but I enjoy my times alone.

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Crazy Computer Dad August 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I try to make “me” time everyday. Sometimes it is productive time and sometimes it is just laziness. I feel guilty when it isn’t productive though. Knowing how much time to spend with my girlfriend, how much time to spend on me, etc is hard. My son is with his mom’s for the summer and it is still hard. :-(

Ok, so I am an ADHD procrastinator…that really doesn’t help anything.

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