Or, Why I Need To Let J Know How Much I Appreciate Him
J is on a business trip this week. He left Monday afternoon for a 4-day, 3-night stay in sunny Detroit for a training seminar on the software he uses every day at work. He'll be back Thursday night, and I certainly hope he'll be well rested and bushy-tailed, because it is likely I might fling him in the general direction of the baby and go running for a bookstore or coffee shop the moment he steps inside the house. When I expressed a little jealousy that he'll be staying by himself in a hotel room, J responded that he would be spending several nights in an anonymous hotel room with nothing but basic cable for company. "I'd rather be at home," he said.
"A crying baby," I countered.
"My smiling son."
"A not-too-bright dog bleeding all over the house." (Separate story: Obie managed to hurt his foot and then trailed bloody footprints all around the first floor before we noticed).
"The sweetest dog in the world giving me a lean," he replied.
"Your ticking time bomb wife. You never know when she'll go off in a sleep-deprived haze of hormones."
"Someone to talk over my day with and to make me laugh."
"A crazy-eyed cat yowling in your ear."
"All right, you've got me there," he finally admitted.
I'm not really that jealous of J's time on his trip. I am, however, not letting myself think about how overwhelming four days of single parenthood will be. So far, we're doing fine, but that's mostly because I haven't let LO in on the secret that J's been gone longer than usual. (I think LO thinks that we're having a REALLY long Monday. He just went through Daylight Savings Time for the first time, so I'm sure this feels just as strange to him). I figure if LO doesn't know that J is out of town, he won't decide that now is the perfect time to test Mommy.
I have actually found myself wondering how single mothers do their thing ever since LO was born. (To be honest, ever since I got to be visibly pregnant. Without a partner, who do you get to tie your shoes in the later months? Do single moms just wear slip ons? And what happens if a very pregnant single mom drops a $50 bill? Does it just stay on the ground?) I honestly couldn't have gone through labor without J. He was the one who reminded me to breathe, and I doubt I would have listened to a stranger through my cloud of pain. Since then, whenever I've reached any kind of breaking point, J has been there to pick up the slack. When I was sobbing in the middle of the night over how difficult breast-feeding was, he calmly suggested I go back to the lactation consultant. He equally calmly picked up his head from where I bit it off after I rejected that suggestion. He also was quite calm the next morning when I looked at him with a sunny face and told him it was a good idea to make another appointment with the consultant. He helps me to be a much better mother to LO, for which I'm very grateful.
LO and I will be perfectly fine through the next few days, but it's still going to be hard. I can't imagine what it would be like if I were a single working mom right now. First of all, the child would be wearing Halloween costumes for clothes every day this week, because I know I wouldn't have gotten to the laundry over the weekend. (Day 1: "Yeah, he's a little pumpkin today. It was just such a cute outfit I wanted him to wear it again." Day 2: "It's chilly today! The caterpillar costume looked so warm and he has so few cold weather clothes. You know, he was a summer baby." Day 3: "Okay, you got me. He's wearing a skunk costume....And now it's covered with spit up.") Day care would get my child and an empty diaper bag because I would have forgotten to replace all the items after I cleaned it out. I would probably be showing up to work in spit-up covered pajamas. Dinner would be a gourmet assortment of whatever produce is still in the fridge dipped in either peanut butter or ranch dressing--whichever is more appropriate for the type of produce. In short, I would have a hard time getting my act together if it also involved a work place.
J is an absent-minded professor type. (A common conversation in our house follows this pattern--J: "Have you seen my X?" Me: "Isn't that it 6 inches to the left of you?") However, J is also the person who keeps me on track. (Another common conversation--J: "Why don't we leash up the dog and put LO in the baby bjorn and go for a walk?" Me: [sniffling over something that isn't working for me] "Okay.") We make a pretty good team.
I'm grateful for our good partnership. Although it won't stop me from giving J some solo time with LO when he gets back from his trip.