Friday, April 10, 2009

Sometimes You Just Need a Break

It was building up all week. My wife had gone on a business trip to Seattle, leaving me with both kids for the better part of 48 hours. Now Bella had daycare, so that helped, but the mornings and evenings were pretty tough. I made it clear no one was going to get a bath, including me, in that period. That would have been like playing with fire. If fire was water, and well, you know what I mean.

And yes, I cheated. The first casualty after cleanliness is nutrition. In and Out Burger one night, turkey sandwiches the next. Any longer and we would have had pizza, Chinese food, and anything else that could be delivered and eaten on paper plates. So meals, check. That just left mornings, bedtime, and the eight hours alone with the baby in between. It was a feat of scheduling and patience, and one I almost lost. But I kept explaining to Bella that everything was much harder because Mommy was away and I needed her help and for her to be extra-good. That’s right, I guilt-tripped a four year old, and it worked 70% of the time.

After what seems like two years, my wife was home. All was well and as it should be. But not quite. She then “reminded” me she had a hair appointment after work and wouldn’t be home until later Friday night. I asked her to reschedule it. She said no. Fair enough. But that left me ANOTHER night home alone with both kids on the heels of the business trip. And the baby wasn’t sleeping through the night so I was exhausted and almost out of patience.

Then the coup de grace. On Friday night, as I kept looking out into the driveway every eight minutes to see if my wife was home, the phone rings. It’s my wife, saying she’s going to be at least an hour later since the hair dresser was taking longer than usual. I was so angry I hung up on her. Now, I say I was angry, but I have to say I didn’t really blame her. She could have told the hairdresser “My husband is alone with the kids. Could you please hurry this up so I can get back and help him out?” No sane woman would ever say this. She just wanted to relax in a chair with minimal screaming around her and just zone out for two hours. The bottom line was she needed a break. I totally got it.

Now, when she finally did get home she looked at me and said, “OK, I got this. Why don’t you go see Watchmen?” It was an unwritten rule. One of the keys to keeping sane in the process of raising kids is knowing when your partner has had enough. She knew. I was out the door in under four seconds.

Now Watchmen is a long movie. I felt my whole body unwind as I sat alone in the movie theater. It was quite relaxing as I watched the threat of nuclear annihilation, my favorite character Rorschach brutalize prison inmates, and of course Dr. Manhattan’s large blue nuclear penis. Okay, that made me a bit uncomfortable.

But it was what I needed. I needed a break. When the movie ended I walked slowly back to the car, and then I stopped. I got an ice cream cone. I sat and ate it with the other teenagers. Damn, it was good. Coffee ice cream with chocolate covered espresso beans. Yum. And yet I don’t like to drink coffee. But make it cold and a solid and I’m all over it.

So I got home and felt better. My wife and I both understand that we each need a break sometimes. So be in tune with your partner and know when they need to tag out. Of course, if you both need a break, then it’s time to call the relatives and offer them an all expense paid trip to your house. Act now! Operators are standing by…


BabyonBored said...

Somehow this doesn't work as well with three kids. There is never a time that I will say "go see a three hour movie. You need a break." without wanting to die. Just sayin'. But then again, i'm very tired and have a cold right now. So maybe this is just a bad time to ask.

Aunt Becky said...

I second Stef's emotion. Eff that.

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