I'm nearing the conclusion of a child-free week and my emotions are all jumbled.
Am I a bad mother because I looked forward to this? Should I judge myself more harshly for reveling in every battle-free bedtime and stressless morning?
I did not wake up once gasping -- wondering where my children were and then suddenly remembering.
I should feel bad, shouldn't I? Because I don't.
Oh my, I missed my girls something fierce. I missed hearing blow-by-blow recaps of movies we've seen 100 times. I missed talking about school and combing wet hair and hugs and kisses and loving letters.
At the same time ... the FREEDOM! The blessed FREEDOM!
I had the exact same fast food meal three nights in a row, skipped dinner entirely twice and one night made French toast at 10 p.m. and ate it in a little tent in front of the television.
My house is in exactly the same state it was when the girls left. I did not wisely use my time to do any of the things that parents say they can't get done because they have children.
I did not clean.
I did not iron.
I did not catch up on laundry or scour the oven or shovel the snow.
I didn't even do any of the things that parents say they'd do if they didn't have children.
I didn't hop in the car and take off for parts unknown.
I didn't catch up on reading.
I didn't stay up late sipping wine and having clever conversations with erudite friends.
To be honest, I'm not sure what I did -- well, except contribute minimally to the construction of the tent around the television.
Yes, the entire week my children have been gone, the couch has been three feet from the television with blankets draped over the top to make a private little theater.
It was going to be a one-night kind of thing, but it was so warm and cozy, that I decided to keep it.
I believe that's my only notable accomplishment for the week. OK, I did take out the trash, so that makes two. OK, one. Making a tent is only a notable accomplishment if you're lost in the woods and put together a shelter using your shoelaces, a few branches, pine boughs and bubble gum.
What really gets me are the things I said I'd do and didn't.
I guess it brings to light one really, really important fact: My children probably aren't to blame for my lack of progress on the home front.
I'm going to forget that now. I urge you to do the same.
In exchange for food, clothing and shelter, I think I'm entitled to shift a little blame.
As of this morning, the girls have been back approximately 12 hours -- and you wouldn't believe what I haven't done because of it. Although by now, I can add several hugs, a few kisses and a bedtime story to my list of accomplishments.
Oh yeah. Those count.