In "Fun without Dick and Jane," Christie Mellor illuminates the silver lining of having your children finally leave home. Read an excerpt.
And You Are . . . ?
Perhaps you’ve noticed the conspicuous absence of children draped around the furniture and setting up shop in front of the television just when you want to sit down and watch your favorite news shows. Take a look around. You’ll see, perhaps, that the area near the toaster you swept clean just this morning is still free of crumbs. And what’s this? There appears to be a dearth of dirty dishes sitting on various tables and desktops. You haven’t found a single piece of half-eaten pizza under the sofa — for weeks.
And that man, sitting across from you at the breakfast table . . . he looks . . . familiar. You know you know him, you just don’t know how.
If you have spent the last eighteen years in your minivan driving your kids to soccer practice, helping them build solar-powered mousetraps for the science fair, and volunteering in the classroom, you might vaguely remember that you probably embarked upon this whole “having children” idea with another person. But the last time you remember saying more than a few words to your significant other, you were asking him to “please hold the baby so I can eat my dinner.” You’ve been through thick and thin together, and look! He’s still here! Say hello to your spouse. It’s time to get reacquainted.
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There are a lot of fun ways to refamiliarize yourself with your spouse, now that the house is free of younger people. First of all, there’s no one left at home to remind you how old you really are. And age is a very relative thing, isn’t it? I mean, how do you really feel? About twenty-five, I’d guess, despite that crampy leg and thinning hair.
Sure it’s the same old house, but when was the last time you felt comfortable wandering about in your underpants with a lit joint in your hand? Even if you don’t smoke pot, you never have smoked pot, or you quit before you graduated from college, why not give it another try? Because you can — not that you want to make a habit of it. You can stay up until four in the morning watching movies. You can fall asleep on the sofa, fully clothed. You can eat cereal and Pop-Tarts for dinner. You can have friends over on a school night and make noise.
In the past, you may have not felt completely at ease doing naked dances in the living room, knowing there were children in the house. But now you can express yourself freely without fear of impressionable youngsters wondering what the hell Mom is getting up to with the scarves and the feathers. You may once again loudly indulge in your personal at-home tributes to Bessie Smith. Your baton twirling will no longer be a source of derision and hilarity. And of course, the obvious: There are no more limitations on when or where you can engage in sexual activities with your partner. That’s right, wild sex on the living room sofa, on the dining room table, or on the kitchen floor after breakfast is no longer out of the question. It may be horribly uncomfortable, and you may not love the feel of the cold, hard floor, or the way the handcuffs scratch the finish, but there’s freedom in knowing you can do those things, any hour of the day.
And when you’ve finished brushing the crumbs and dust bunnies off the backs of your bare thighs, there are other things you can do. Start making plans with your partner. Your partner may not be the type of person who makes plans. He may the kind of person who believes that if you don’t have the money to tour the world for a year, then you shouldn’t bother talking about it. Well, there are several reasons why you should talk about it. For one thing, by talking about your hopes, dreams, and ideas for the future, you may actually make those dreams come true.
Plus, your partner has no idea what he’s missing. Sure, traveling is fun, but planning your trip is sometimes the biggest part of the fun. Planning imaginary trips is equally fun, and can provide hours of entertainment for you and your partner. And face it: You’re going to be together a lot for the next god-knows-how-many years. Together, just the two of you, with no children around. You’ll need to find a few things to do together. (Besides the aforementioned sex on the kitchen floor, etc. Because after all: ouch! Plus, you know how clean that kitchen floor is.) Planning for your future and sharing your dreams is one of those things you can enjoy together. Make a wish list of your dream future. What is it you really want to do in the next bunch of years? What is it your partner really wants to do? Perhaps there will be some crossover. Let’s hope so.
Excerpted from Fun without Dick and Jane by Christie Mellor by arrangement with Chronicle Books. Copyright © 2012 by Christie Mellor .
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