Measuring Absence


Often times, the Internet is nothing but a wasteland of time consuming, brain cell killing nonsense, such as Kim Kardashian’s photoshopped butt, the “Which Real Housewife Are You” quiz, and the YouTube video of the little Shih Tzu dressed like a teddy bear. (That one was pretty cute.)  Occasionally, though, the interwebs is quite useful.

For instance, that cauliflower pizza crust recipe I found on a food blog once. Delicious! And the Candy Fairy. Brilliant! A few years back, a friend’s Facebook status update revealed the most wonderful idea. Let your kids keep a handful of their most favorite Halloween candy.  Then, have them leave the rest of the candy by their beds for the Candy Fairy who comes during the night to exchange it for a toy. Believe it or not, at ages seven and five, my boys still look forward to the Candy Fairy.

Last week, as Mike prepared for another two-week (gulp) business trip to London, I found another gem online. A few months ago, I joined a Facebook group for parents with kids who have SPD. It’s been eye-opening to read and learn about other people’s challenges and successes. Sometime I relate intimately, but even when I don’t, the group has been a great source of parenting advice.

One mother’s circumstances forced her to live apart from her son’s father, so she asked for ideas to help her son cope with the transition. Several parents suggested a paper chain with a link for each night the father would be away. The boy could remove a link from the chain each night to measure the time before he and his dad would be reunited.

I wasted no time.


Dylan is nearly eight years old (my big boy!), but even so, saying, “Daddy will be home on November 21st,” pretty much means the same thing as, “Daddy’s gone forever.”  For both boys, saying, “Daddy will be home in two weeks,” or, “Daddy will be home in fourteen days,” is even less tangible.  Their paper chains have been a miraculous visual representation of not only Mike’s absence, but also his pending return. I don’t have scientific proof (I’m just a Mama), but they seem less anxious compared to Mike’s previous trips across the pond.

I thought about making a paper chain for myself (it’s not easy for me either!), but then I realized I measure the time when Mike’s away a little bit differently.

I measure his absence by the number of times I haul the trash and recycling to the curb. Twice so far!

I measure his absence by the number of IT failures we experience. If the world were going to end and the government wanted to safeguard a few special people with the skills and intelligence needed to rebuild civilization, infrastructure, the information superhighway, and Wi-Fi, I’m pretty sure they’d pass me over. Yesterday morning, Netflix stopped working. So long, old friend! If the Xbox One malfunctions, the world might end for real.

I measure his absence by the number of times I’ve fallen off the shopaholic wagon. I’ve only been to the Container Store once so far, but they gave me a coupon to come back soon, so, you know, that will probably happen. Also, I may or may not have received a “care package” in the mail from Athleta.

I measure his absence by the amount of shit that breaks. Do you remember the leaking washing machine, the beeping refrigerator, and the electrical fuses from his last trip? So far, the electricity has gone out twice, which might explain our Netflix problem (or not, because what the hell do I know about technology and civilization). Also, the glass plate that rotates in the microwave broke sending a shard of glass flying through the air and straight into my foot, which bled for the better part of an hour.

I measure his absence by the number of dead rodents I find in my house. Yesterday afternoon at approximately 3:45pm, Gertie trotted into the family room from the backyard and placed a dead rat on the floor at my feet. Did you get that? MY DOG PUT A DEAD RAT IN HER MOUTH, BROUGHT IT INSIDE THE HOUSE, AND LEFT IT ON THE FLOOR AT MY FEET. What the fuck!?

What happened next probably won’t surprise you. I lost my shit. I hopped from one foot to another and ran in circles screaming obscenities, which scared the bejeezus out of Dylan, who also began screaming and crying and running in circles. Interestingly, Riley remained calm. Clearly, he would survive a sinking ferry disaster before me or Dylan.

After a minute or two (or 20?) of complete madness and insanity, I realized I was the adult in the room who was supposed to solve the problem (i.e. deal with the DEAD RAT ON THE FLOOR AT MY FEET). I rushed the kids and the dog from the room, grabbed two dustpans, scooped it up (holy crap!), brought it outside to the trash can (holy crap again!), took the trash to the curb, sanitized the family room, washed my hands, arms, and face, brushed my teeth, Febreezed the entire house, calmed Dylan down and apologized for scaring him, praised Riley for his impressive albeit odd composure, and poured myself a bottle of wine with a straw.

Now listen. If Mike were in town, he wouldn’t necessarily have been home at 3:45pm to deal with the DEAD RAT ON THE FLOOR AT MY FEET…INSIDE MY HOUSE!  He probably would’ve been at the office, but what I’m saying is this. If Mike were in town, It. Would. Not. Have. Happened. When he travels, we’re cursed.

Nine more paper links, two trashes, one recycling, and dear God please let that be all until Mike comes home.

How do you measure absence?


Filed under boys, business travel

3 responses to “Measuring Absence

  1. tovemaren

    I am totally freaked out FOR you! That’s gross!
    I measure absence in the number of nights we have Happy Meals and cereal for dinner. Our kids are picky eaters. So I always take the easy way out when my husband isn’t home.


  2. heatherlgreg

    What a great idea!!!! I love the chain idea! Tangible and visible!!!!


  3. My circumstances are very different, but love the part about that moment when you realize you are the adult in the room 😉


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