There is a quote on my calendar on my fridge which reads "Instant availability without continuous presence is probably the best role a mother can play" by Lotte Bailyn. I read this quote and was struck by how this concept has altered my life so completely. Yes, having children is a choice that changes the trajectory of your life in ways that can't be quantified or imagined at the time the choice is made.
Instant availability without continuous presence defines my life and why I find it difficult to relax when the boys or S is home. I have set up my life so that if the boys need anything from me I am available at the drop of a hat, without hovering. This means that I spend an enormous amount of time waiting. Waiting for them to ask for something or indicate I'm needed as a bank, listening ear, chef, chauffeur, maid, or general butler. By extension I have included S in this and find I wait for him to need something from me when he is home.
This world I have created causes huge amounts of stress as I'm not able to carve out time to myself where I can simply not be available to anyone. It has become instinctive to have one ear always listening for the Mom Call Of Need/Want. I would have thought that teenagers (my boys are 17 and 19) don't need their moms around so much but I am wrong. They don't need me exactly, but they are now used to me being available to them whenever they want. I haven't decided if this is a good thing or not, whether they will be able to interact with significant others equally or expect their SOs to tend to their every whims. Time will tell.
This is a long explanation of why I like to have an empty house - it is the only time the muscles in the back of my next relax completely. When there is no possibility of having to tend to another living being other than myself. When I can focus on writing a book or short story and be confident that I will be able to retain a train of thought for as long as needed. When I can think my own thoughts until I am done, not until I am interrupted.
Many people have said "just tell the kids to leave you alone for a while". Yes, this is possible but it doesn't change the fact that my brain is always ready to tend to someone if someone is around. So even if the boys stay in their rooms and leave me alone I am still waiting for an interruption. I am still not as able to really get into a task. This is also why I suck at multitasking at work, or any job where someone interrupts me. If I'm interrupted it is difficult to get back on track with my task.
Make no mistake, I love my boys and S. And I also love an empty house :)