Every time I go out for longer than half a day, child-free, I have to make a list as long and comprehensive as the NHS budget report just to make sure the day runs smoothly.
Your first thought; “You went out for the day?!”
No, not very often (I run my business from home during school hours), but very occasionally I’ll have a work-related trip to London which entails a 6:34am train to Waterloo, leaving Daddy in charge.
Now I don’t know about your significant other, but mine seems to think being ‘the parent’ is easy; they are old enough (5 and 8) to dress themselves and even get basic non-heated, no-knife foodstuffs, but on a typical school day there are just a few more details in between.
And we’re not talking days like ‘Bella – ballet day’.
Oh no, that particular scenario would require:
1. Start prepping tea early so that they can eat right after ballet.
2. Snack after school – oat biscuits are in the red tin by the cereal.
3. Ballet bag is ready for you on the sofa – she needs to be dressed by 4:45.
4. She wears coat too, it’s cold by the time she comes out.
5. 4:50 set off – lots of traffic so need extra time.
6. Buy Aurora hot chocolate while Bella is in ballet. NO sweets.
7. Tea as soon as home, they’ll be starving.
You get the idea.
A whole day out? The list gets pretty long.
It’s not the big stuff he’ll forget. It’s the details. Vests when it’s cold. Sun cream in summer. And no, 8 hair clips randomly placed does not counter not brushing hair.
What’s Dad’s usual response?
Well, six times out of ten I’ll get a call mid-morning from school asking if the kids are sick, since they’re not there. My reply is ‘Daddy is in charge today while I’m away’. They understand.
If they do go to school, he won’t need to cook, because he’ll meet up with a single Dad friend and they’ll all go for pizza. The kids will stay out too late and then go to bed in their uniform. We’ll locate the book bags when I’m back the next day, and explain again to the very understanding teachers that ‘Daddy was in charge’.
Aforementioned ballet will probably be skipped, though this week I (smugly, I’ll admit) threw him because I have a sensible arrangement with a fellow Mum where one takes Aurora and her friend to tap dancing, the other collects, so he couldn’t get out of it. I did giggle to myself over that one.
For all the ‘why are you so tired, you don’t do anything’ comments I get during a typical week, you can guarantee Daddy has fallen into bed (also fully clothed) by the time I arrive home that evening.
I’m used to it and I don’t even resent it, but a day out is more than a military operation, and the one time I went away for 4 days (! – to America, including 2 days travelling) I actually got my mother-in-Law to stay. Four days would have finished him off.
As I’m driving back from the station I’ll be anticipating the state of the kids, and the house. I’ll go through each step of the day and assess how it went like any real business-woman (or Army Sergeant) would.
Did they eat breakfast? Doesn’t look like it judging by the bowls of uneaten, soggy Weetabix still on the kitchen side, dried a little only because the cat has been helping herself (cat alive? Win).
The dishwasher is still full of clean plates, the wet washing is going rancid in the machine, the toothbrushes are dry and I’ve no idea where aforementioned ‘ballet bag’ is. They seem to have tried on every outfit they own at some point in the day, dirtied it, and left it on the floor. Perhaps this is a positive sign they were always clean and presentable?
It sounds like I have the worst husband ever that’s useless in every way right? Actually no, as my best friend and soul mate, there’s no one I’d rather spend my life with. He’s just good at other stuff.
And that’s fine with me, because after dealing with the possibility of not being able to have children, and yearning to be a Mummy, I’ll put up with anything knowing that I’ve got the most wonderful kids and a lovely home. Even if they are for the most part totally my responsibility. And so long as they’re alive and well, Daddy will do things his way.
As any Mum will know, a 14 hour day, child free, to be an adult and be able to switch off from having to make Weetabix correctly and remember the book bag, is the parental equivalent of a week at a spa in Bali.
I’m writing this on the train, by myself, hot cup of tea next to me, on my way back to the hurricane that will be my home in about an hour, refreshed and spirited after a day of metal rejuvenation. And I’ve blocked out tomorrow to clean the house.
Image credit: Mug by Lavender and Wolf