My husband and I co-parent in every possible way. So when one of us (him) has to go away on a stupid stupid airplane to travel for work in some stupid lonely far flung destination (New Orleans) for awhile, the person left behind (me) has to pick up the slack. Stupid.
One strategy I have adopted to deal with all that extra work, both mental and physical, is something I like to call TOTAL SURRENDER. Here’s how it goes: as long as you don’t intend to accomplish one thing for yourself or attend to your own needs in any way while your spouse is gone, you’re golden. Things are going to be fine.
Mistakes are made when you think you have five seconds to sneak in a work email from the home computer. What are you? New at this? Your children can smell you trying to get a work thing done from half a mile away, and they’re starting to fight over a toy. Great—now everyone’s crying again. You also hit send on that email in a panic and it was unfinished and full of typos. EVERYBODY LOSES WHEN MOMMY TRIES TO BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE. Better to be one thing to three people, for now.
In other words, keeping the home fires burning is hard work! Amiright?! Who’s with me?!
Since my husband left 7 days ago I have done the following:
1. Demolished a birthday child’s ice cream cake. Like, murdered it, with my mouth. Including all the parts I normally find yucky, such as birthday lettering, and sprinkles, and maybe some of the cardboard box it came in. I don’t remember much of it, except that it was cold, and that my eyes may have been rolled back in my head the entire time I was doing it.
2. Day two: bought Birkenstocks. Day. Two. In my mind I said it was ‘to facilitate slogging children around town to various activities without compromising on foot health’ but really I just needed something to go with my outfits, all of which could basically double as pajamas. Pajama outfits started on Day One.
3. Put together multiple birthday presents with screwdrivers and such. Remembered: I am handy. I forgot this part of myself, since I normally dislike handy-making activities and usually
let my husband do these things force my husband to do these things. It was good for my children to see me safely using tools. See! Mommy can put together toys backwards, just like Daddy does!
4. Bought the same thing over and over again thinking that I didn’t have enough. If there is a zombie invasion in the next two weeks, nobody panic; I’ve got enough yogurt in the fridge to keep us all going for quite some time. Also, art supplies.
5. Cried in front of the children. It’s fine, I’m a crier. My children know it, my husband knows it, all the people at work know it—I’m certainly not afraid to shed a few tears. In this case, I looked up at the mountain of laundry that was to define my Saturday night, and cried. The children rolled their eyes and one of them said to the other “Mommy’s overwhelmed.” Positive Note: I think I just figured out the title of the book they are going to write about me.
6. Eschewed all entertainments. Oh sure, there were nights when I thought “Gee I’d really like to catch up on those episodes of Mad Men etc” and then I would chuckle to myself in a condescending manner: “Is any entertainment really worth the cost of a full night’s sleep?” “Yes, as a matter of fact, some things are” I would think, “I am a grown up lady! I deserve entertainments, and fancy, and sweetmeats!” And then imaginary me would yell at myself “HEY DUM-DUM. GO TO BED!” Case closed. In bed every night by nine o’clock.
7. High fived myself numerous times.
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