The day before my husband goes on a business trip he (a) gets a haircut, (b) buys a few new pairs of dress socks (because his sock drawer is a lonely land of singletons), and (c) roots around in the attic for the right size suitcase. That’s it. The end.
Tomorrow I am heading off to a conference. Leaving Monday morning and back in my living room by midday on Wednesday. Like hubby, I got a haircut, bought a few new pairs of
dress socks panty hose, and rooted around in the attic for the right suitcase. However, I performed these mundane tasks yesterday because today must be dedicated to ensuring the survival of my family during my brief absence:
- The cupboards must be fully stocked with snacks, lunch bag options, and “man-friendly” meal choices. By this, I mean taco kits, fajita kits, pizza kits, and anything else I can find in “kit” form. There is really nothing in these “kits” except a packet of flavour spices and some flatbread, but hubby (who is a perfectly capable cook) seems to find the brightly coloured boxes re-assuring.
- Playdates and extracurriculars must be posted on the refrigerator, with yellow highlighter drawing the eye to anything that requires adult participation (driving, sending something with the child, or just being in the house at a certain time of the day).
- Plans must be in place to ensure that Buster the Schnauzer gets his hour in the park and is not forced to endure too much “alone” time because my hairy little comrade is prone to panic when I disappear from view for extended periods. (Buster and I share the obviously-delusional belief that my presence ensures the continued health of the family unit and that my absence thereby represents a “Code Red” situation).
- Piano teachers, voice teachers, schools, after-school programs, etc. must be informed that I am out-of-range and must be provided with hubby’s cell phone number.
- Laundry must be done and put away and bathrooms must be fully stocked (because I am pretty sure that I am the only person in our house who knows where extra shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, and other assorted sundries are stored).
- Related to the above item… there will have to be a trip to the drug store because my youngest is coming down with a cold, so I will need to get cough drops, children’s Advil, cough syrup, and an assortment of the things little people like to have when they are sick (popsicles, flavoured waters, and chocolate in some form).
There will be lists. Things will be written on whiteboards. Many post-its will die for the cause. I will fret a bit on my way to the airport, imagining forgotten lunch bags, missed activities, and general mayhem. I will send unnecessary reminders via emails and texts… verifiable proof that I am obsessive-compulsive. Hubby and the kids will share some good laughs about my foibles.
I know that I am an “over-planner”. My husband is a highly intelligent person and a completely competent parent. My older kids barely notice me most of the time and even the little one can maneuver through her day with only sporadic requirements for motherly intervention.
When I return home, everyone will still be alive and well, but there is an 80% chance that the food “kits” will still be in the cupboard and that there will be leftover chinese food and take out pizza in the fridge. It is highly likely that there will have been at least one “mix up” involving the kid’s activities. And my youngest will probably report (with glee) that she did not shower at all while I was away.
It only takes a few days of absence for the value of my stock to rise. On Wednesday night, there will be genuine appreciation for whatever I pull out of the oven, and no one will roll their eyes when I plot out the next day on the whiteboard in our kitchen. I will tell them all about my trip and while they won’t remember a word of it, they will all feign an interest, which is good enough for me (show me a pod of mothers at a mini-age soccer game and I will show you the world’s best interest-fakers).
The sky does not fall when I leave my family. But a few clouds roll in. And that’s not such a bad thing.