The hardest part about getting away for a Girls’ Weekend holiday is not convincing my husband that I’m going to do it (what, he’s listening?), but once the travel arrangements for myself have been made, recognizing that the real work begins. I am solely responsible for arranging babysitters when my husband can’t be with the children the whole time I’m away (even though, yes, I’m not there either), and making arrangements for children’s pick up and drop offs if the logistics don’t work under the one parent scheme. I always have to prepare “the list”.
I’ve prepared husband-lists which simply state what time the kids have to go to school, doctor’s numbers, sports schedules, medications to be taken, and even directions to the nearest grocery store (it’s that big cement building with the giant red “D” on the front.)
But there are many things that could go on the list that I would rather my husband discover for himself. Because I’m mean. For instance:
Yes you have to wake up the teenagers at 7:15. But what you don’t know is that this seemingly simple activity will take approximately 10 minutes out of your morning. Yell at them once, then twice, then nag them about packing up their knapsack before they come downstairs, then nag them about teeth brushing and combing hair – all things that yes, they should know, but no, they don’t.
If you find a quiet moment to read the newspaper – do it! Because sometime in the next five minutes you will have something at a critical cooking point on the stove at the same exact moment that a bum needs to be wiped, a cut needs to bandaged, and a fight needs to be broken up. Carpe Diem? More like Carpe Momento!
If you yell at the children make sure you close the windows first. Particularly the living room ones that face out to the sidewalk where every one of your nosy neighbours will walk by and judge you.
Throw food out of the fridge if it stinks.
Wash a kid if it stinks. Don’t ask questions.
The four year old cannot turn corners on his bike without running into inanimate objects. Wear runners to follow him.
Yes, I know about the ink on the leather couch. Find your happy place.
If the kids tell you they don’t have any homework, they are either full of shit, totally clueless, or not listening. Follow up. Go into the knapsack if you have to. Wear gloves.
Don’t believe them when they tell you I let them eat snacks right up until dinner time (except if you’re on a conference call and you need them to shut up. I’ve done that. Positive side of this is that you don’t have to make dinner as soon as you hang up).
If a neighbour asks you to take their children for an hour or two, do it, but not without securing a return arrangement (in writing if it’s that cow at number 47). Even if the kids don’t want to go, send them. Not your problem.
The grocery store gets upset if you try to put 16 items through on the 15 or less lane. Actually I’ll correct that – the grocery store doesn’t care, but those 7 crabby women behind you, they do. Take cover.
What my husband has to remember is, at the end of all of this, when I arrive home on the doorstep, he has to tread very carefully. If he’s done a really terrible job (i.e. curtains are ablaze, children are naked and dirty and there are empty beer bottles on the front lawn), he’ll get tonnes of grief about not being able to take care of his own children (all the while watching me being smug and smirking at how superior I am to him).
If he’s done a fantastic job (house is gleaming, children are beaming, well dressed, and dinner is bubbling on the stove), he’ll be hated for being able to make it look easy and getting it all together. If he’s smart, he’ll make sure he messes up on one or two things (being careful to have the right number of children as a baseline, however), and maybe I’ll have missed him long enough to whisper those much wanted words in his ear…”did you want me to make you a sandwich?”
From The BlackBerry® Diaries: Adventures on Modern Motherhood. Copyright © 2009 by Kathy Buckworth.. Published by arrangement with Key Porter Books.