There’s Only One Rule: They Have to Be Alive When I Get Home
This morning I got up at an hour I wish I had never seen (but unfortunately as a mother I have seen it far too many times to count), called a cab, dressed myself in my working mommy uniform, grabbed my suitcase and headed out on my first business trip for my new job.
This trip is momentous because for the first time ever I am leaving my husband for 48 hours with our three kids ALONE.
In our previous life before the cross-country move we had a live-in-nanny, my sister, my husbands’ parents and my Dad and step-mom all on the ready to help when I needed to work early or late or out of town. Here, our closest family is 3,000kms away and since my husband isn’t working and Sweet Pea has gone to pre-school there hasn’t really been a need for a live-in-nanny.
So he’s alone. For the first time. Of course, I have to report this on Twitter.
My mommy twitter friends jumped all over the conversation. Especially after I confessed to making lunches and leaving piles of matching clothes out (for the kids, not my husband!).
Then Heather the Globetrotting Mama piped in with:
“I have one rule: kids must be alive when I return.Everything else is a bonus.”
How true that is.
But of course, it begs the question… if all we expect from our spouses when we leave them in charge -- whether it’s for an hour or for days -- is that the kids are alive when we get back why then are we so darn hard on ourselves all the time?
As their mother, I want to make sure my kids eat from every food-group, that they’ve had time for creative and physical play, that they’ve been read to, sung to, cuddled and loved every single day. I want their teeth brushed at least twice a day, for their clothes to match, their hair brushed and for them to have a bath every single night.
Over the next 48 hours, my husband will let them all sleep late, miss school buses, take them to the play McDonald’s for dinner, ignore bedtime and likely let them all sleep in our bed with him, probably with the television still on. But you know what… that’s all just fine.
It’s not that I don’t think my husband can do all the things I want for our children -- and he will do most of them -- it’s that I don’t expect him to do them when I’m not there to do it myself.
This is not about me thinking that he can’t do it, or questioning if he should do it or even purporting that I am better at doing it (which I am!), it’s really about me wondering if I so easily will give him a pass on all of this and just hope they’re alive when I get home then why can’t I just give myself the same pass every once in a while?
Why can’t I feed them cold cereal for breakfast, skip tubby time and let them watch television far past bedtime so that I can enjoy snuggles or Facebook and not worry about them being overtired the next morning. I’d like to be able to lie on the couch once they are finally in bed without folding laundry, making dinner for the next night or cleaning a bathroom because I can’t stand leftover toothpaste all over the sink.
And just once I’d like to skip homework and write a note to the teacher saying Sugar Plum didn’t finish her homework because I was too tired to ask her to do it.
I can’t do any of those things without a good dose of Mommy Guilt and an extra amount of work piled on for the next night. (I mean it’s not like the laundry is going to fold and put itself away!)
But just once… well maybe once in a while… I’d like to give myself a pass and just pat myself on the back when I look around and see a dirty house, over-tired non-bathed kids with their bellies full of takeout, rummaging through piles of clean unfolded laundry for their pyjamas because after all they’re alive and some days that’s the best one can hope for.
Father and son spinning photo via Shutterstock.