Good Intentions, Bad Results

Fatherhood provides many opportunities for a fellow to step up, be a man and show he can handle the task of keeping his children alive and relatively healthy, at least for a weekend.  When tasked with taking care of the kids without mom around, I have learned a key lesson – never show her up in the parenting game.

Here’s the scenario.  The wife has her coveted girls weekend come due.  She deserves it and cannot wait to relive her youthful, energetic years with her closet friends.  They doll up, get hit on by an assortment of twenty something’s and sad divorcees, laugh hysterically and most of all, sleep in.  Sleep.  In.

Before she can depart for nirvana, she has to provide a thorough overview to her hapless husband as to what the children require in terms of sustenance, sleep patterns, minute by minute activity, transportation logistics and of course a smattering of household chores that “magically get done while you are at work”.

For some reason, the children tend to behave better when overseen by only one parent, especially Dad.  Maybe it’s the lack of opportunity to play “Mom vs. Dad:  Armageddon”.  Sociologists around the world are still puzzled by this phenomenon.  It’s hard to say why, but the kids just seem a bit more manageable.  Mom does not want to know this.

The weekend commences and Dad has good times planned.  The kids stay up a little later, discard their clothing like a freshman in college and eat like one as well.  Good times are had.  As the weekend comes to a close, Dad gets the domestic chores handled like a meth fueled maid.  Laundry done.  Dishes (what dishes?) done.  A few ‘honey do’ list items punched out.  The house is spotless.  Ignorant Dad thinks to himself “she is going to be so happy when she comes home, it’s not even funny.”

Sunday night.  Mom returns to her castle rested and ready to resume her life.  Cries of “Mommy!” ensue and hugs are distributed liberally.  Mom surveys the landscape looking for some sign of disaster, only to find her home in better shape than she left it.  The look on her face morphs from joy to inquisition.  A few questions are asked…“What time did you go to bed?  What did you eat?”  The answers are not adequate.  Dad makes the fatal mistake.   He utters “We had the BEST time.  The kids were great!  We had so much fun.”   Then the napalm comment is deployed…”this isn’t so hard!”   You can hear the record needle scratch and the music stops.  Mom’s eyes turn green like the Incredible Hulk, yet she suppresses her rage.  Mom calmly says “Really.  It’s so easy huh?”  She excuses herself to unpack and mutters a few obscenities under her breath.

The rest of the evening is unpleasant for all involved.  The kids return to their crafty ways and bedtime is a disaster.  Dad is offended that his efforts will not only go unrewarded, but he feels punished.  Mom cannot believe that he had the gall to undermine her orders and then throw it in her face!  “Who does he think he is?  He wouldn’t last a week in these shoes!”

A few days pass and all is back to normal.   A lesson is learned.

So gentleman, I offer you this important wisdom.  Never show up your wife.   My revised strategy is as follows.  Upon her departure I give her a look of a child on the first day of school.  My eyes scream “don’t leave!”   The weekend plays out as normal, except for a few key details.   I make sure to take care of the heavy lifting.  The laundry and dishes are done, but I purposefully leave a few loose ends.  An article of clothing here, a half eaten yogurt cup there.  An unmade bed and some toys scattered hell to breakfast.   When Mom arrives home, the first words out of my mouth are “Thank God you are home.  Another day and we might not have made it.  I don’t know HOW you do this every day.  You are amazing.”   Mom predictably will say “I told you so.  This is not a walk in the park.  I have to fight this battle daily.  I am glad you can appreciate that now”.   Dad swallows his pride, winks at the kids and the night ends as it should, with happiness and gratitude all around.

….now, stay tuned for the “other” side of this from wife Megan!

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