So, I’m going away for the weekend to celebrate a birthday with a group of friends. I’m very fortunate that I have a really great husband who is helpful and enjoys spending time with our kids. However, when it comes to the day-to-day management of the goat rodeo that is our life, I am definitely the head goat wrangler. I’m not going to lie, with me leading the herd, it is often one messy, dysfunctional rodeo (like if you paid to see this rodeo, you would ask for a refund). Nevertheless, we have our poorly-run routine down to a science, so when I occasionally go away for a few days, I still worry that our perfect little imperfect household will implode.
Granted, these concerns usually melt away 20 minutes after I arrive at my destination (usually aided by a hearty glass of wine), but until then, here are a few basic things that I worry could go wrong in my absence:
1. My husband will forget to feed our children. Years ago when I went away for the weekend, I would worry that my husband would serve meals that neglected one (or four) of the five food groups. As time went on, I lowered the bar and just asked that at some point a fruit or vegetable (singular) would enter our kids’ line of view. Now? I just pray that they are given enough nourishment to make it to Sunday evening without developing scurvy or rickets. Have you ever returned from running errands and asked the family “what did you have for lunch?” and gotten that “ummmm…..lunch?” look. Yeah, that.
2. My husband will remember to feed our children. On the flip side, when my husband does remember to feed the kids it’s like an all-you-can eat buffet at the State Fair. Let’s have corn dogs and cotton candy and funnel cakes and ice cream (and that’s just for breakfast). I think the rationale is “hey, mom’s not here, we can finally stop going along with all that silly ‘let’s make healthy choices’ nonsense.” Who wants chocolate-covered bacon?
3. Will everyone be wearing pants? I just want everyone to be fully clothed, is that too much to ask? I get a lot of eye-rolls for spewing out constant reminders… “Do you have a sweatshirt? Are you wearing underwear? Is that underwear different from the underwear you had on yesterday?” … I know I’m a nag, but this is not a family known for strong survival instincts. When my son was five, he went to a professional hockey game with my husband. When they arrived at the stadium, they realized my son wasn’t wearing shoes. Hearing this story the next day I said, “Please tell me that Dad carried you through the stadium.” My son said “Yes…. except when we got hotdogs and went to the bathroom.” ‘Nuff said.
4. Who will manage “The Schedule”? Granted, we only have two kids, but these days every child needs a personal assistant to manage their over-scheduled schedule. It doesn’t just take a village, it takes a village of iPhone users who can text, email and phone to coordinate the carpool logistics of a full day of activities. There is very little room for error here; a 5 minute delay can derail the entire day for you and the 3-6 other families who are relying on you to pick up their child on the way to each activity. Fingers crossed that the stars align and everyone makes it to their soccergame-birthdayparty-footballgame-birthdayparty-lacrosse tryouts-birthdayparty-sleepover. (Bonus points if my son remembers to wear shoes to any of it.)
5. A situation could arise that would bring shame to the family name. Husbands usually have good intentions, but they occasionally lack that little ounce of common sense that makes the difference between a slam-dunk and catastrophic embarrassment. For example: that time I arrived home to find my nine-month-old daughter wearing her one-piece bathing suit backwards. Hey, Tommy Hilfiger, unless Fredericks of Hollywood is designing children’s wear, an infant swimming suit should not be revealing. Dads, as a rule of thumb, most baby clothes cover the nips. You’re welcome.
6. Will anyone remember that we have a dog? You know, that white fluffy guy who hangs out at our house? The one who everyone swore they would help walk and feed when we first got him? That guy. Despite living with us for five years, he’s still a bit clueless when it comes to tending to his personal needs. Help the slacker out and give him a bowl of Kibble ‘n Bits when you can…and maybe some water. Thanks.
7. Our children will be hospitalized for exhaustion. My husband seems to have an aversion to being at home alone with our kids. So from the time I walk out the door it’s like a suburban version of “The Amazing Race.” The three of them literally accomplish a year’s worth of outings in 2 days: the zoo, 2 museums, the mall, rock climbing, skydiving, tandem bike riding, parasailing, deep sea fishing, the movies, and of course, late night glo-golf. I think his philosophy is that parenting is like swimming… you have to keep moving or you’ll die.
8. Who will check homework? For the most part, I’m the one who helps our kids with homework, although when things are really busy, I’ll ask my husband to look over what they’ve done. After several instances where my daughter had errors in the homework that he had supposedly checked, I realized that he was “checking” homework, but not checking homework…as in, he was looking to see that there were pencil marks on the paper, not that the answers were correct…. So now I check what he “checked.” Sigh.
9. My kids won’t miss me. I hate to admit this, but there is a pretty good chance that my kids won’t miss me when I’m away (like an 87% chance). Without a doubt, my husband is the fun one in the house, which makes me the lame-o (or as my son says, “the fun sponge”). If I say “it’s time for bed” my husband suddenly becomes David Beckham, bringing out a soccer ball and kicking it around our bedroom with them. If I ask them to do schoolwork, chances are I’ll soon find the three of them gathered around the computer watching “epic fails” on YouTube. (This can’t be all bad, right? I just rationalize that they are learning important life skills about safety… especially if they ever find themselves skateboarding down a flight of stairs. I guess it’s kind of like doing homework with Johnny Knoxville. It seems like he was probably a pretty good student.) It makes me a little sad that nobody will care that I’m away, but realistically, do soldiers miss their drill sergeants? Do prisoners miss the prison guards? Do Catholic school kids miss the mean nuns? Exactly.
10. My kids will miss me. On the other hand, what if they do miss me? What if I’m bombarded with teary phone calls and sad texts from my kids begging me to come home early? Will I be overwhelmed with guilt and cut my trip short so I can race home to rescue them? Nah. Just kidding…they’ll be hanging out in their underwear with Johnny Knoxville and David Beckham…why would anyone miss me? In fact, I have a feeling when I walk out the door they will grab a corndog and start singing “One less problem without you.”
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