Oh Dear God in Heaven, thank you for this sliver of a moment.
My children are not fighting. They are not bickering or talking back. They are not turning up their noses at the food I serve. Or battling me over wearing shorts when 30 degrees out. Or teetering atop a stack of boxes on the bed to put stuffed animals on the ceiling fan and send them for a ride.
Right now, they’re both taking a nap.
Or pretending to.
It feels like when they were 1 and 4 and I considered it my Crowning Parental Achievement to get simultaneous naps, if only for 30 minutes.
The stars have aligned, the snow has come and peace has descended on the land if only for a little bit. It’s not like at night when they’re in bed and I often kick into high gear – rearranging the linen closet or revving up the washing machine or just cleaning up the kitchen for the 87th time of the day. The kids had a choice, and they both opted to curl up with a blanket on the sofa. I was planning to kill the afternoon with a trip to the Baltimore Boat Show today, but that can wait.
Of the first 22 days of January, my Lovely Bride has been on a business trip for 10. I don’t begrudge her this one bit. It’s part of paying the piper for the job she has that allows me to stay home with the children.
And I sort of look forward to the time she’s away. I’m Supreme Dictator of the House, and there’s no co-deciding necessary. None of the “Do you want to fix supper or shall I?” or “Can you watch the kiddos while I go to the gym/do an errand/have three seconds alone?” (We both ask this one.)
I don’t go all passive-aggressive and leave dishes in the drying rack for two days hoping she’ll notice and put them away. And really, what kind of lunatic am I to expect that of her? Does she expect me to fix her office printer and know when to order more paper?
I find that I tap a sort of self-reliance I first found when I became an at-home dad and again when Carla was born and I had her as an infant and Eddie still potty training. There’s nobody else to put away the dishes, so I up my game and don’t let them linger. Nobody else to fold the laundry or file the bills. Nobody else to pick up the living room. Nobody else to ask whether we should go to the free kid-level lecture on reptiles at the college up the street or use a free ticket to a boat show (honey, I promise not to buy a $300,000 yacht) to while away the afternoon. Nobody else to say, does it sound alright to you if I see which of the we can get through Netflix and then choose titles out of a hat so the kids won’t drive me to drink with bickering over who wants to watch what and turn into Monster Daddy and say nobody can watch anything? Nobody else to help me rein in my kid-soul-crushing insistence on not eating like a caveman with the need for pleasant family meals.
Nobody else to propose that Eddie work off his $20 library fine for a lost book he simply doesn’t care to look for by working with me to organize his desk, toy work bench and night stand to my satisfaction. He knows he has a problem with organization – he agreed with no fuss! And when I told Carla that I was taking away all her stuffed animals for 24 hours for the ceiling fan stunt, she didn’t protest at all. She actually brought me a few more that I had missed. (Lovely pointed out that I hadn’t punished Carla; I congratulated myself for devising a relevant punishment.)
Lovely and I actually talk on the phone more when she’s gone. When she’s in town, she’s busy all day putting out fires at work. On the road, I check her itinerary and can see when she’s free for a few hours. Or we talk at night, and it’s like before we got married and had a long-distance relationship for three years out of five.
Oh, rats. Here comes Eddie up the stairs. He was so tired at lunch he couldn’t hold his head up. Now, four seconds after I tucked him in on the sofa, he wants to use the computer to look up HHGregg’s return policy for his Wii game that’s not working. And he wants to know what determines who gets the wild card slot in the AFC playoffs, and I haven’t a clue.
Okay, so I think I’m ready for Lovely’s return tomorrow.