I have been playing hooky from my real life for about a month now.  Yes I am still out at the ranch. No the nephew has not been arrested yet so I have a valid excuse to continue to stay. The no internet is a definite bummer but I have my phone and I can still access Facebook and my game. I just can’t write my blog.

I have been AWOL from here all month because with my work schedule and other things I haven’t thought to bring my laptop with me and write my blog during the week. Today I decided I had to go get some new work shoes so I  grabbed the laptop and headed to town. I would indulge myself in something caffeine-free from Starbucks menu and write my blog, postdate it for tomorrow, go back to the ranch and cook dinner for my friend since she caught a late shift and be in for the evening. But when I got to Starbucks there was a sign on the door that read “Closed–computers down”.  Great. The other Starbucks in town closes early and I really didn’t want to head back to Modesto to find a Starbucks there. My daughter suggested McDonald’s and so here I am with a smoothie and a nice window to watch the evening rush hour traffic stream through town while I tap out my latest thoughts.

There has been a lot going on but one of the things that has been an interesting outcome of this whole ‘staying-at-the-ranch” scenario is the fact that I have rediscovered the joys of no responsibilities. I mean seriously. I go to work and work my shift. When I get off work I don’t have to hurry home to start making dinner or clean the house or feed dogs. I head out to the ranch and check the livestock and feed and water the ones that need it. If I feel like it. Otherwise my friend does it. No pressure either way. Then I wander into the house and let my little dogs out to go pee and run around and check the fridge for something to eat. I may or may not make dinner, depending on how hungry I am. And even then I’m happy with a PB&J or a cold hotdog. I’m not picky.

Then I change my clothes, talk with my friend a little about our day, then she takes her little dogs into her room and shuts the door and I go kick back in the recliner with my tablet or phone to play my game or catch up on Facebook. I rarely turn the TV on and my dogs curl up on various chairs and couches and go to sleep until I finally get up and go to bed myself.

This past Saturday my family celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday. My immediate family showed up on their own and left later while I helped my sisters clean up the area we had used at the park. My oldest sister invited me out to her house for pizza and family time and I paused. I realized suddenly that I had no reason I couldn’t go! I didn’t have to go home and feed the family or anything. I was a free spirit and could go wherever the wind blew me and it was an extremely liberating moment.

I have been a “mom” to someone or other since I was about 24 years old. I was a nanny, then I was a group home parent, then a foster home parent, and then along came my own children. For the past 25 plus years I have been responsible for meals, homework, doctor’s appointments, school activities, sporting events, and countless other things that every parent finds themselves bogged down with after they have children.

I mentioned how much I was enjoying this freedom to my younger daughter and she said “Well Mom, you have RESPONSIBILITIES you know. You can’t just leave and not do stuff here at the house.” My reply? “NO , I am a grown woman with GROWN CHILDREN who can take care of themselves!”

One of my favorite little jokes when talking to people about my home life is the fact that I am hoping to some day experience this “empty nest syndrome” of which I have heard so much about! I have a 21, 23, and 29 year old living with me, as well as grandchildren ages 5 and under. I love my children, but I have to admit the idea of coming home to a house that looks exactly the same as I left it in the morning has great appeal!

My oldest daughter finally realized I wasn’t coming home any time soon and, having run out of the Hamburger and Chicken Helper, she called me to ask me how to prepare a real meal. I informed her that there were these amazing things called “recipe books” and if she opened the cabinet in the kitchen she would find more than enough of them to keep her reading for a few months. Or if she didn’t feel like perusing paper pages she could merely go to or any of a dozen cooking sites and find recipes that were easy to make and contained ingredients that were readily available to her.

So my question is this: when does your responsibility as a parent end? Am I wrong for feeling a bit gleeful that the kids are having to finally fend for themselves? (My husband isn’t very happy with the menu choices apparently and informed my daughter he hasn’t much cared for anything she has cooked. She told him that was fine he was free to make his own dinner when he came home from work at 8 pm every night!) Because I’m the mom it has always fallen to me to cook every meal and make sure the laundry is done and the house is cleaned, even though I have held a job outside of our home for most of the 30 years we have been together.

I know I have to go home eventually. My friend and I get along very well and I could see us living together in the future as two old ladies… But meanwhile I am enjoying myself and not feeling in the least bit guilty that I am. well sort of not feeling guilty! The hubby and I have a date for Sunday to go to the flea market together (I know I know–he’s such a romantic!) and I am looking forward to spending some quality time with him. (By the way–before you start feeling all sorry for him you need to know that he HAS been invited to come out and stay with me at the ranch, but he is afraid the kids won’t take care of the critters so he stays in town…)

Its getting dark and I promised my friend I would make her dinner tonight so I had better get back to the ranch.  Can’t wait to have all that peace and quiet around me again!! I will truly miss that–I hate living in town. Ok here I go…