At 4:45 a.m. this morning, when I discovered three men in my bed, I realized just how different things are when Mike goes out of town.
Let me explain the men. One of them was Harry. No surprise there. The second man, Riley, wasn’t much of a shocker either. He always starts the night in his bed, but habitually finishes it in mine. The third guy, Dylan, was the bombshell. He has a penchant for nightmares when Mike is away. This morning, Harry and Riley climbed under my covers and went right to sleep like they’re trained to do, but Dylan had a different agenda, which is why I stared writing this post at 5:03 a.m. in my kitchen…with lots of coffee…and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” playing in the next room.
What else is different when Mike’s away?
Harry likes to play in the backyard…in the middle of the night. I’ve written before about Harry’s occasional middle-of-the-night romps outside, but when Mike is away, he does it every night. I think it’s his way of expressing to me his stern disapproval of Mike’s business trips. Message received, Harry, loud and clear.
I take out the trash. Mike and I have a pretty traditional household when it comes to chores. In general, I take care of the inside of the house and he takes care of the outside. When he’s away,though, I handle the trash, literally. On Sunday afternoon, I discovered that an animal had gotten into the trash can overnight. I would rather have changed Riley’s stinkiest poopiest diaper than clean that mess. Oh wait, I did that, too.
I do less laundry. It’s not that Mike produces an enormous amount of laundry. In fact, most of his socks end up scattered on the family room floor (next to Dylan and Riley’s…it must be a guy thing), and his other clothes usually end up in a heapon the back of his desk chair in the bedroom. I guess it’s just simple math: laundry for three is less than laundry for four.
I get more sleep (except for today). When Mike is home, the quality time we spend together each day is generally after the kids go to sleep when we eat a late dinner and watch something on the DVR. I almost always fall asleep on the couch around 10 p.m. (and miss the last five minutes of whatever show we’re watching), and then Mike wakes me and sends me to bed. When he’s away, I crawl into bed as soon as the kids are down, so even if I’m woken up at, say, 4:45 a.m., at least I went to sleep early.
I do less cooking. When Mike is out of town, I eat early and light. On Monday, I made vegetarian lentil soup in my crock-pot, and it’s been my dinner every night this week. You know the old adage, marriage makes you fat and happy? I don’t know if it’s true, but I know if I didn’t have a husband, I’d be fine eating a bowl of soup (or cereal) for dinner every night. Then again, if I didn’t have a husband (or children), I’d probably be at a bar enjoying two-for-one drinks with friends.
I go shopping. This doesn’t really have anything to do with Mike being away as I often have a desire – a need, actually – for retail therapy. On Tuesday, though, when I had one cranky kid home from school with a cold and a long day and evening ahead with no relief in sight, a trip to The Container Store seemed like a really good idea. I bought some really important organizational products for the house, including two acrylic Lazy Susans for my bathroom, ajewelry stand, this really cool spiky plastic thing that holds whatever theheck I want, a pack of gift tags, a storage unit for Dylan’s Legos, and – because Dylan was with me – a yellow toy box shaped like a giant Lego. I heart The Container Store (and Dylan does, too).
Mike’s business trips always remind me of how heroic single parenthood is, but they also give me perspective on and gratitude for my marriage. When we’re apart and everything is different, I’m keenly aware of how completely, beautifully and thankfully our lives are intertwined when we’re together.