Last week C was out-of-state on business travel (four overnights). Culture shock, as this is in no way typical for us, at all. However, I have a wonderful network of mom friends who cope with traveling husbands/dads often. So I picked their brains for how to survive without completely losing our minds. The bottom line was this nugget of advice: stay busy, especially into the evenings for as long as possible, and expect that nothing will go as it would if Dad were here.
Staying busy was no problem. It was a very busy week chock full of scheduled activity, so I just mixed in a couple other play dates to keep us moving along. As for the normal “routine-us interrupt-us” portion of the program, yes, it’s true, this prophecy fulfilled itself over and over again as the hours and days went by.
Our week started out being “off” with something as basic and necessary as this: my morning coffee. At our house, we usually home grind-and-brew a pot because C will take the greater portion of it into his office. So considering I only ever drink one maybe two cups of the pot, this seemed wasteful to do while C was gone (that’s a lot of beans down the drain so-to-speak). Instead and for this week only, T and I integrated a trek to our walking-distance Starbucks into our morning routine. I got a venti non-fat latte: coffee problem solved. And the boy got what for this change to his day, you ask? Well he got what we were calling “second breakfast” – a pack of vanilla Madeline cookies. Yes, three cake-like cookies, in the morning, for five days in a row. And you know what I say about that: so what. It was a temporary situation, and the entire experience actually became something ritualistic for us and quite special, which T completely understood as he polished the final cookie on day five and said to me he’d miss his second breakfast but was still happy Daddy was coming home. And PS – I walked and T rode on his big-wheel for the excursion out each morning, which overall is a nice round-trip of just under a mile, so go us for some additional exercise. Good thing, because of the cookies (right?).
Second thing that didn’t go anywhere near as usual for us: bath time. You see, bath time is 100 percent Daddy-and-T time. Well, not this week. So there I was, turning on lights T usually turned on, putting the wrong toys in the tubby, washing him the wrong way (and probably washing him way more gently than Dad ever would), getting soap in his eyes, him barking at me to wipe his eyes, get the soap out of his hair, he wanted his shark towel not the duck, the duck is with dad… wrong, wrong, wrong, mom, and on and on it went. However, when all was pull-upped and jammied, we reached bed time, even if the bath time journey was slightly over the bumpy back roads and not along the smooth freeways. The boy was cleaned, teeth were brushed, and hair was combed. Mission accomplished, even if not to the standard T has grown accustomed.
Finally, a word about our week’s meals. In this house, dad cooks all the dinners and we all eat together as a family by 6ish pm. I know, I know… gasp, shock, etc., but truthfully we run in circles where this appears more commonplace than not, and HOORAY for that I say (both for men who cook and for families dining together). I’ll be honest; I did at first consider some sort of mac-and-cheese-a-thon here at home. But since that’s just pretty much showing how boring I could be without any effort, I instead budgeted for more meals out for the week than I normally would, and I even managed to turn some of those meals into additional play dates. Sunday we lunched out with Grandma, her treat, so we ate the leftovers for dinner. Monday T went to his auntie’s for dinner, and I ate here alone (ah, nice break for moi). Tuesday we attended a rare weeknight birthday party, so we ate out beforehand with another mom friend on single-parent duty for the night as well (yes, we had the quietest and most well-behaved table at Ruby’s that night, not; PS the kids meals were free because it was Tuesday, and yay for that!). Wednesday we ate dinner at Chick-fil-A with friends and even ran into other friends while there, making it an unplanned, extra-surprise group play date (I’ll devote a separate post to C-F-A another day, but listen up, it’s genius what’s going on over there for parents). Thursday we walked to our favorite taco shop for some grub. Friday C was home. Ta-da! We made it through the week fed and happy, and on very little mac-and-cheese (at home anyway). A little lighter in the wallet perhaps, but knowing where next week’s dinners were coming from, I considered that money in the bank.
So welcome home, Daddy. We are happy to have you – and our regular routine – back in the house.