Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Notes from a Lonely Housewife

Last Monday, Paul left for a 5 day work trip to Washington D.C.  I got a call that night as I sat in Paul’s parents’ sitting room situated on the other side of the state. Paul said his trip was extended a week and should he fly home in between or just stay there.  We decided for him to stay there and for me to linger around the care of his parents for a few more days. They pour magical cocktails.

Signature look on Alistair. Cautious amusement from cousin Everette. 
Baby Gladiators.
I know a lot of life to be happy accidents. I also feel like some things just are.  Like my decision to be a teacher. My desire to dance. The way my chest gets pulled up in a happy ache as I walk up to receive Communion.

This is how I feel about Paul traveling and his work.  Somehow, the life of a lonely housewife foreshadowed into my fifteen year old heart.  I’m okay with that stretching that happens between us when he’s out of sight, out of state, or just darn unavailable.  It’s okay because I always wanted to be the supportive wife.  When I was 19 and thinking of landing such a role, I had something else in mind: packing a UHaul in our Missouri driveway (I’ve lived here all my life.) and waving goodbye to friends so we could lay down roots in a climate that labels 40 degree weather frigid. Traveling trophy wife.  Instead, I lean over my Missouri kitchen counter and yell past the chocolate stuffed in my mouth that I’ll be right there to wipe Thomas’s butt.

For your pleasure and in no particular order, I present unglamorous details of a wife holding down the house without the better half.  And they all start, because I say so and I’m in charge here, once upon a time

… I took Thomas to Chic-Fil-A to break up a super bleak and very cold stretch of days with just the kids. Invisible food poisoning on his plate. At 3 in the morning Thomas walked into the bedroom and threw up into his hands. I canceled the playdate for the next day, the only time I would have talked face to face with an adult during the five days Paul was gone.

… I watched 8 parts of a documentary about the Boxing Day tsunami on YouTube with my iPhone in between nursing babies and eating bowls of cereal. End of story.. I watch weird stuff when he’s gone as some twisted preemptive strike against disaster.  Two trips ago it was The Dahmer Files.  Two nights ago it was Blackfish.  I once lay in our big empty bed listening to a 911 call. The comforting phone operator lulled me to sleep.

… Paul walked in the door from a 4 day trip a few months after I had the twins.  On this trip everything went perfectly. I was so together and so great with the kids. I held the twins in my lap on the couch.  Paul walked through the door in mid-afternoon on a call, waved hello and turned the corner to go straight into the office to finish the day’s work. I burst into tears, the babies bouncing a bit until I knew he couldn’t hear me over that conference call.

Oh, but these are the bad stories.  There’s so many great things about Paul traveling (and working a lot) too. Like, how our clumsy re-entry into togetherness has sometimes brought a glass of wine to my lips or how I’ve acclimated to solo parenting by talking to myself a lot and liking it.  Two weeks ago I walked into the family room where I found Thomas stirring his Lincoln logs with a Lincoln log. I threw out my arms and shouted, “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST CALM DOWN. JUST. CALM DOWN” before I stole myself into the other room and started my 3rd podcast of the day.

This trip has been different. Thomas is still at Nana & Papa’s. Paul is still in D.C. The twins occupy each other in the sun room with happy shrieks and swiping of toys.  I really am on my own.  

I’ve actually gotten things done this time too.  I spent time with my sister, Amanda, this weekend shopping and catching up.  I filled out these beautiful baby shower invites for my sister, Andrea, who’s expecting identical twin boys this summer. And I visited Target 3 times in the past 5 days for, among many other little projects, revitalizing our master bedroom. Think soft. Think sheek. Think vavoom. Think the walls will paint themselves?

Thank goodness for Paul’s family for taking me in last week and letting Thomas play “I live here” for another week.  Thank goodness for my sisters (and sister-in-laws too!) for helping me fill the hours. Thank goodness for a wee bit of peace to write this out to you.

Thank goodness for a man still waiting on his trophy wife to bloom.


Thomas arrives sometime tomorrow. Paul arrives tomorrow night. Ba da da da da. I'm lovin' it.

The twins begged me to get a photo with their uncle E. Bunny

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