Flying solo

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Smartmom has a dirty little secret: She actually looked forward to Hepcat’s trip to Indianapolis to watch some Formula One racing because it would mean three days without him.

No, she didn’t have any racy plans of her own. She wasn’t going to rendezvous with that hunky guy she flirts with at the PS 321 drop-off or stay out all night at Williamsburg clubs she doesn’t even know the name of.

Her reasons were much more innocent than that.

Pure and simple, it would mean some time alone in the apartment without the presence of the man she’s been married to for nearly 17 years. And that, to be crude, is a luxury any long-married woman can appreciate.

Months ago, she had politely declined Hepcat’s request that she join him at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Why in Buddha’s name would she want to spend three ear-drum-shattering days watching cars zoom by — in India-no-place, no less? — when she could have the apartment to herself?

Well, not exactly to herself. The Oh So Feisty One and Teen Spirit would also be around. But getting to sleep alone in the queen-sized marital bed would be a rare treat. She could spread her arms and legs and not worry about disturbing her beloved. She could wrap herself in the comforter, steal all the pillows, and sleep undisturbed.

Sure, she loves to spoon her man, snuggle close as she falls asleep, smell his ears, and lightly tickle that spot right under his neck, but sometimes a girl has other fantasies: like having her own bedroom, one without clothes strewn all about, without anyone stealing the blanket, without The Park Slope Paper left open on the sheets.

Still, early Friday morning, when Hepcat left for the airport, Smartmom felt a pang of sadness saying goodbye. A wave of emptiness went through her as the front door closed.

By Friday night, she was getting dolled up go to a friend’s barbecue. Alone. It was fun, like being single again. No Hepcat nagging, “Come on, it’s time to go” or “You’re wearing that?”

Smartmom stayed out late and drank too much red wine. Once home, she checked on OSFO in her bedroom, made sure that Teen Spirit was home and went into her room, shut the door and stayed up late reading.

She had to answer to no one. She slept in the middle of the bed.

After a minor mishap involving a broken toilet — Hepcat fixes all such things, but this time, Smartmom enlisted the downstairs neighbor — the weekend spread open like a tantalizing buffet. Even Teen Spirit and OSFO seemed to enjoy the novelty of a Hepcat-free household.

For Teen Spirit, there would be no one to tell him to lower the volume on his music. For OSFO, there would be no one to complain about the Bratz and Barbie DVDs that she prefers.

And for Smartmom it meant that she’d be able to surreptitiously de-clutter the house without a big fight.

Hepcat, who has an undiagnosed case of disposaphobia, breaks out in hives whenever Smartmom tries to throw things away and re-organize.

A keeper of ancient computers, old issues of Wired, and ripped t-shirts from college days, Hepcat can get sentimental about an old pair of socks.

So while the ’Cat’s away, Smartmom did some deep cleaning — four garbage bags’ worth.

By Sunday afternoon, Smartmom realized that her Hepcat vacation was just about over. Her biggest priority was making sure that, despite the de-cluttering, the apartment looked basically the same as it did when he left.

That night, OSFO began asking when Hepcat would be home. She looked forlorn, at loose ends. Smartmom could tell that she missed her daddy’s hugs and silly voices. Even Teen Spirit was looking forward to Hepcat’s return so that he could fix the DVD player, which had mysteriously stopped working. And Smartmom missed his square chin and those cute crow’s feet next to his eyes.

When Hepcat got home, even before he unpacked the Grand Prix Formula One t-shirts, he noticed that Smartmom had tidied. “What have you done with my things?” he shouted out angrily. Nothing, dear, Smartmom smiled.

She could have used a few more days of alone time. It wasn’t so much the need for even more decluttering, but the need to differentiate herself from her mate; to unblur the lines between her own self and the self that has merged with Hepcat.

But that’s marriage: two lives joined in one unbroken circle. The important thing is for both partners to take time to replenish and renew. For Hepcat, it’s weekends away at Formula One races. For Smartmom, it’s her Goddess retreats in the Berkshires.

It’s the only way to keep a marriage together. ’Til death — or piles of computer magazines — do us part.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
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