It took a week. A week before the joy of having the clan back together again in one country and in one house started to lose its shine.
A week before I started to get annoyed with the fullness of the washing basket, the rapidly declining stock of loo roll and the profligate use of washing up liquid.
A week before the backchat of a tweenager started to rub his Dad up the wrong way and I resumed refereeing duties.
That’s not bad going for us, and an indication of how long we have been apart and the stress that the separation has caused. Still, even with the global crisis and the prospect of many more months apart ahead of us, it was only a week before I took up my husband’s kind offer to get out of the house and enjoy some time on my own!
I like being on my own. I like solo holidays, solo walks and solo meals. It is bliss to spend time by myself. To wake up alone with nobody to please but myself. Nobody to cook for, tidy up after or get cross with but myself. So I took myself for a long walk to breath in the fresh air of the West Highland Way in wondrous silence and when I got back I booked a night away in a B&B by the sea. The next day I skipped off with joy in my heart and without an ounce of guilt for ‘abandoning’ the family that I have spent every day of the last 6 months desperately missing.
Enjoying being alone does not mean that I don’t like being with other people or that I haven’t felt incredibly lonely this year. It’s just that I love being with those people even more if I can have my personal space too. It is the curse of the extroverted introvert and its contradictory power is particularly strong at the moment.
Being reunited with our loved ones after all this time apart is a precious joy, but it is also hard. I have got used to my own ways. I have not had to bite my tongue to keep the peace for many months and I no longer seem to be able to disguise my feelings with a polite smile. Not that I was ever very good at that. It just feels like everything is a bit closer to the surface now and it does not want to go back in the box.
Today I will have lunch with a friend and walk round the shops in the rain and by this evening I will drive back to my house with a renewed ability to be the Mum and wife I want to be. As any good Scottish granny will tell you, ‘you cannae pour from an empty cup’ and everyone that I know has been doing that for a while now. So my personal advice is to take advantage of this window of opportunity for however long it might last to see the people you love and spend as much time with them as you can, but for your own sake go and top up your own cup a bit too. Literally, if you must (as I did) with a rather lovely bottle of Malbec. The months ahead are probably still going to be hard. Let’s be ready.
Postscript: It turned out to be the wettest day of the year and although our valient attempts to shop through it and find somewhere nice for lunch were admirable, I was left feeling that lockdown restrictions in the pissing rain somewhat took the joy out of it. The drive home to the said family then took an hour longer than normal because of severe flooding and at one point I feared I may have to swim home. However, it was all totally worth it to bring back these legendary Fudge doughnuts from Fisher & Donaldson to the boys as a reward for surviving 24hrs without me!