The gift of weekends alone
Until my marriage collapsed, I had lived more than 50 years without ever experiencing the silence of a weekend. I never would have imagined it was possible to spend an entire day speaking only to the women in my Saturday-morning exercise class. Other activities—doing errands, working, and writing—all kept me engaged but not directly with other people. These are the quiet weekends, long moments of peace I have learned to embrace.
It hasn’t always been like this. My weekends were full 10 years ago—managing the demands of two children, a long-term marriage, two full-time careers, and a house that always needed attention. Back then, I would have told you that full weekends would always be my life—with people talking, plans being made and executed, sometimes using the divide-and-conquer method (each parent taking one child somewhere) and other times implementing the entire group dynamic. Frankly, I never thought there was any other way to do a weekend.
Now, a decade later, many of my weekends represent long moments of quiet—48 to 72 hours of being by myself. When these first began, I did not know what to do with the time. At first, to curb feelings of loneliness, I would call family and friends. But in this world of overscheduling and social media, phone calls are not as easy as they once were. Of course you can make a call, but often people don’t answer, and, even if they do, many don’t have time for long conversations to share intimate thoughts about the world and your place in it.
Over time, I learned to live with my loneliness. And after several years of having such weekends, I look forward to them. When my children are not with me, either because they are away at college or with my ex-husband, rather than being depressed, scared, or angry, I savor these weekend moments of peace. They are intense and powerful moments in my life when I am really engaging with myself and the people around me—even though I’m not talking to anyone. I no longer need phone conversations to share intimate thoughts; instead, they whir in my head with clarity during these moments of time. I also hear so many other things I never heard before—whether it is the water flushing through pipes in the house, the gentle wind outside my door, or my own emotional state of being.
As a result, I long for the weekends with those moments. In the lyrics of her song “Gravity,” Sara Bareilles describes the process I now enter regularly, as I foresee those long moments in the weekend ahead of me: “Something always brings me back to you. It never takes too long. No matter what I say or do, I’ll still feel you here ’til the moment I’m gone.”
Thank you, life, for bringing me back to you.
For a short, amazing video by Tanya Davis about loneliness and what it can offer, click below:
Our Voices section is dedicated to the many facets of the Solo-Mom experience. Do you have a story, lesson, or opinion you’d like to share? It’s easy to submit—we’d love to hear from you!
Katharine Donato is a Solo Mom and writer. She is also a professor with strong interests in international migration.
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