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July 14, 2009


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Dude, you've got one kid. Wait until you have three more. Solitude becomes just a concept.


I have no children, only because the right situation never presented itself so that I could, in an environment I felt was the right beginning for a child. I was also a single child, and most of my life has been isolated just out of circumstance, with plenty of periods of boxes for tables and ramen, having been a musician and artist. I had had great hopes that I would be stretched and changed and happily transformed by shouldering the responsibility of a child, and now I'm deflated to find I don't get to see what that means. I tell myself that I probably wouldn't have been very well prepared to deal with them 24/7, what with never having had siblings or lived with normal chaotic family life. My friends by contrast are barely keeping head above water with their new little ones. It's an odd feeling to watch never having been in it.

I wish I could feel your great release into solitude. I want a release in the other direction. I hope to have cartloads of vicarious nieces and nephews around me in old age. Maybe!


I'm scared of people who lack the ability to be alone. We all need time by ourselves to address our hopes and our fears. Without dwelling on them, how do we ever really get to know and improve ourselves?

One of my favorite quotes is by Jim Morrisson who wrote, "Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power. You are free."

Maybe I spend so much time alone because I have a lot of fears to address. But I've always been a private person. Learning to maintain that sense of privacy in a committed relationship has been the greatest challenge of my life. I'm grateful that I married a man who loves me despite all of this.

But the time I need to work on myself is also the reason that I'm scared to have children. It's hard enough dealing with my unquenchable need for solitude when it's just me and my husband. I can't imagine what it would be like having to constantly be there for my child.

But I'm 38 years old now and the window of opportunity is closing fast. I desperately want children. It just scares me that I'll suffer personally because of how I'm built.

I see other couples around me and the need for alone time doesn't seem to bother them. Instead of subsuming their need to be alone, they subsume all of their needs and their identities become defined solely by their role as parents.

That might be my biggest fear of all.


I kind of have a crush on you.


Uh, I love Graceland. Makes me cry everytime. I'm not proud of this mind you, just aware of it.


I don't know exactly what your situation is MD, but I share your need for alone time.

Listen to music WAY too loud, play the guitar on 11 (even if it's a song you're still learning). Watch shit movies, drink an entire flat of lager in oil-cans and eat 2 frozen pizzas.
It helps, and it beats what I used to do...

When I was in college I developed a near terminal case of insomnia. I never slept more than 20-30 minutes at a time, never more than an hour a night (usually a LOT less).

My doc kept giving me larger and more powerful 'sleep aids' but I'd still wake up and just stumble around for the next seven hours completely fucked up.

After five weeks I was a complete wreck. I was having both auditory and visual hallucinations. I'd lost 15+ pounds and looked like death itself. I'd chased away all my old friends.

All I had was alone time, but I still wanted more. I HATED being around others. All it did was make me feel like I really was already dead. Everyone around me was shiny, glowing, alive, happy... Eventually I collapsed. I slept for almost a week straight. When I was awake I was drinking myself to sleep. It finally passed. I still hate being around most other people though... I guess some things linger after an experience like that.

Anyhow, I hope you pull through whatever it is you're going through. Your little girl deserves a whole daddy, and you seem like a pretty good one.

Father Muskrat

Funny....I drove to Graceland during a time of crossroads, too, but it mainly for the kitsch factor and humor of it all. It was a month or so after graduation, and I was trying to decide whether to go to lawschool or move to Atlanta and work for IBM. Reading this makes me want to break out some of the ridiculous pictures I have of myself next to his car collection (especially the pink Caddy).

As for the solitude bit, I do miss that aspect of living alone...I rarely traveled alone, but I did enjoy a house to myself with music of my liking at a volume of my liking as a backdrop for a quantity of beer of my liking while reading or writing. Instead, I wait til everyone's asleep and sit in the bathroom with my Mac and read or write on blogs.

Of course, this reminds me of Ralphie and his Little Orphan Annie decoder as he furiously strove to decipher a message about Ovaltine.


Feeling the same way. I need alone time, a fair amount of it, and I very rarely get it. That hasn't been a good thing. In fact, I'm a wreck right now because of it. I want to just drive away. But when I do get away, all I feel is anxiety to get back to the kids.

My oldest son is the same way. He needs alone time. My youngest son, and my husband, are the opposite, NEVER needing or wanting any alone time.

Papa Bradstein

Life is an individual journey during which we accumulate all the parts of ourselves we need to be whole again. The Peanut is one of those parts of yourself that you need to be whole. So is Boss Lady. You are separate, but you are one, just as you are together with each other, but you are alone with yourself.

Every time I throw down a choice to 3B--Curious George or Richard Scarry? bucket hat or Red Sox cap? keep yelling or time out?--he throws option three back at me, rejecting this dualistic mindset I'm trying to trap him into. I take it as a reminder and a lesson.

He is alone with me and I with him.


Great post, MD, and you seem to have touched a major parenting nerve.

I totally agree with the need for alone time that is more than wandering a bookstore for an hour. And understand how hard that can be, for all the reasons that others have mentioned, above.

Good luck with what you're going through, my man.


Easy solution: get up early. Two quiet hours before the kids are up, including a nice jog and deep reading. Works every time.


Once a year, I rent a cabin in the woods by myself. I take a few bottles of good wine and a ton of books. For an entire week, I'll wake up in the morning, go for a run, and then sit outside and read. I guess it's my version of a buddhist retreat.

It's not for everyone. Most of my friends and family don't understand how much I treasure that one week.

I have a strong feeling that you would.


Diedre - I got that feeling too with this specific post and the lack of mention for the past many months. Reads like the blog of a single dad to me - but I do not know whether it is significant. Maybe boss lady does not want to be blogged about or maybe there is more meaning. I wasn't really trying to speculate on the status of the marriage - rather I think that the topic has such wide ranging application. I also think that so much time is spent focusing on the relationship with the kids - that people forget to focus on their marriage.

I am not drawing any conclusion here, instead, I will offer my own perspective. People have kids because (for the most part) they are married and in love. I don't think a kid should be your first priority. Gasp, boo, whatever. I think your marriage (relationship, partnership, whatever) should come first. Out of that, comes the strength to be the best partents you can be - together.

The alone time - time for self discovery and the recharging of one's batteries - is critical. Critical not just for you to be able to be a better parent - or a better person - but I would argue most critical to being a better partner. At the end of the day that is what I care about.

Very thought provoking post. Thanks MD.


I sometimes really hate the fact that I need time for myself, like it's some kind of chink in my armor. But it's a fact, as true as the sky's blue. I need time alone and I need time and energy to be creative here and there. If I don't get that, I'm one miserable son of a bitch, and that's not good for anybody under the same roof as me.


Drinking oneself into a stupor is not the answer regardless.


You think and write better drunk than I do sober.


I'm quite worried about MD. Dude you ok?

Asha Dornfest

Yes, indeed. MD. The tension between caring for your family and caring for yourself...well, I think it's one we all struggle with. I know I sleep a lot less than I used to simply for time alone.

I find I also crave time to wander -- to not be on some sort of lunch-at-12-home-by-four agenda. I miss not only time alone, but time to be totally spontaneous. If I find myself with a solo hour or two, my favorite thing is often to wander the streets of our city following wherever my whims take me.

You deserve that time. Regular babysitting, or even a few days in a hotel, while not "the answer," necessarily, are a good start. I've learned the hard way that caring for others at the expense of yourself can do some damage. (Not irreversible, mind you!)

It's also a good time to remember that our kids DO get older. In the long-term, they are with us a short time. It helps to remember that the intensity of parenting changes as they do.

So find time for yourself. Find time for you and your wife. Find time to be with your friends. And treasure the time with your Peanut.

Jessica @tisworthwhile

My husband craves solitude. I need about an hour every once in a while. It used to be our battleground.

His need has slacked off considerably since we had our son and it's made things a LOT smoother. He's found solace in being with his son and feeling that love, though I know he is wistful for the old days, but aren't we all?

Amazing post. Thanks.


We don't have my parents around so there is no luxury of sending the kids off the the grandparnts but they learned to read at a very young age and they actually will spend hours reading, leaving me quite alone. Sometimes, I'm the one looking for them. Seriously, teach the kids to read early. Best thing we ever did.


I'd like to thank Society for making me feel like a sub-standard wife and mother when I want to have 'me' time. How dare I be so selfish as to want something for myself when I have children and a husband that need to be taken care of.

(It may not actually be that way, but that is how I perceive it.)

Maybe if we took more time for ourselves, divorce rates and dead beat parents wouldn't be so prevalent.

Mary Grace

Thank you.


What's going on? Everything OK? I haven't heard about BossLady for a while...


Rumor has it they're getting divorced. Mind blowing eh?


Great post, inspiring. I am now reading through the rest of your posts.


I always think better in my car, too. It does not matter which step you take, you just have to take a step. There are no right ways or wrong ways. What ever you choose, I hope it makes you happy.


I think that all of us at one time or another has done this very same thing. We all have to hit rock bottom in order to climb up the ladder. You have done really well for yourself.

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truly ghastly. Everyone will write and say: oh, you can read books and play cards and chat like never before but I would be completely miserable! Good luck with surviving this disaster!

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