Ditto for eating lunch alone.
Then I had kids, and “alone” went out the door with the first garbage bag of dirty diapers. I can hardly have a moment alone to go to the bathroom.
So after a particularly hectic week a few weeks ago, a friend suggested that I take some alone time — a sort of day off from motherhood — to regroup. Saturday was the perfect opportunity. My husband was away at a conference. My parents were available to keep the kids. And I’d done my homework. (Yes, I’m a nerd. I research my fun.)
First stop, Starbucks. Can you believe I’ve never been to Starbucks? I know it’s controversial and the coffee is expensive and maybe it’s not even that good, but I felt like it was a cultural experience I needed to have. I opted for a skinny caramel macchiato grande and a pumpkin scone. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed in the coffee. But the scone was de-lish. (Click here for my thoughts about my Starbucks experience.) I sat, I sipped, I nibbled and I read my Bible and journaled. Most days, that’s a regular part of my day but it’s often rushed. This day, I had the luxury of reading slowly and re-reading and pondering. It was divine.
Next on my agenda: a movie. I’m pretty sure I’ve never gone to a movie by myself before. I’ve watched movies by myself at home, but never in public. At least not that I can recall. I was always too socially awkward to attempt it, assuming that people would assume I was some sort of friendless loser who was so desperate for entertainment she had to take herself out to the movies. It turns out, no one much cares if you’re by yourself at the movie theater and the words “One for The Help” spilled confidently from my lips without hesitation, shame or stutter.
I laughed; I cried; I cheered; I cringed; I recoiled. And while I generally like to discuss a movie with a companion afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed my all-by-myself movie experience. I didn’t feel pathetic once.
I shopped, with some purpose, and ate lunch at Panera, outside under an umbrella while reading a book. (Incidentally, I bought two books while shopping, even though my list of books to read is currently somewhere in the neighborhood of 107. I have a serious book addiction.)
I recently rediscovered that in the past, when I have most felt God’s presence, I have been alone. Undistracted in a world of endless distractions. And some of my spiritual frustration of late has been an absence of aloneness. If my kids don’t need me at the moment, then my husband does. Or even if he doesn’t say he does, I feel obligated to spend time with him. I know I can’t get back the quality or quantity of alone time I had as a single, but I’m reminded of the need to incorporate some alone time into my family-filled life now.
Saturday was a start.
The beginning of a beautiful friendship. With myself.