Whatever you do, don’t compliment dads on their parenting skills. I’ve read a couple of moms who have been outraged – outraged, I tell you! – because their menfolk were publicly commended for parenting tasks such as tying their daughters’ braids or attending their kids’ school events or not driving away with the baby on top of the car, basic stuff like that.
These moms were indignant that they never get credit for these same duties even though they do them every single day. Obviously they’ve never seen a dad with big, oafish fingers making a ponytail, because that is pure adorable! I mean, look at him sticking his tongue out in concentration. Come on!
Deb used to get irked that, whenever she went away and left me with the kids, I was likely to get nightly supper invites, whereas if I went out of town, she was likely to get an extra neighbour kid or two because nature hates a vacuum.
This past weekend, I was completely on my own from Friday afternoon until Monday, not a kid in sight, just me and the pets.
Sunday evening, I spoke to my Mom on the phone. “How are you making out?” she asked, using the same tone one might use to say “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m afraid we’ll have to cut it off.”
First of all, I’m a big boy. Secondly, are you kidding me? I had the house to myself for a full weekend!
Here’s what I did:
I played loud music.
I danced in a style best described as “conniption” because it was Miles Davis and I was overcome with grooviness.
I drank all the coffee.
I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until I got a headache from writing, but that might have been from the coffee.
I left my beard clippings in the bathroom sink.
I cleaned my beard clippings out of the bathroom sink because that’s just gross.
I took the dog for a walk every day, and not the super-hyper-extended walk my wife likes but a sensible loop down the bike path and back. I know the dog appreciated it as well from the contented way she slept on the sofa the entire rest of the day.
I snagged those iPod headphones that have been dangling for months from a tree branch on the bike path because there was no one to tell me “Those might belong to someone” or “You have no idea whose ears those have been in.”
I took my laptop into the bathroom with me, which is also gross but there was no one to tell me that either.
I made a grilled cheese sandwich with medium cheddar and nine-grain bread and added leftover fried onions and mushrooms; it may very well be my life’s crowning achievement. I also ate most of a bag of Chipits. I regret nothing.
I became acutely aware that we have a lot of pets. Everywhere I turned, there was the dog or one of four cats, sitting, staring, and they seemed to sense that they outnumbered me and that they could probably take me, if only they could organize! And I tell you it freaked me out. Plus, when it’s just you and the pets, you can really hear the dog licking herself.
I pushed a cat off the bed at 3:30 a.m. because it snores and hogs the room, which is the same as most nights.
I talked to myself, which made the dog come up to me and wag its tail in case there might be another (better) person in the house or on the off chance that my words might include “treat” or “walk” instead of the more likely “stop barking” and “that’s my chair.”
I scooped a LOT of cat litter.
I watched March Madness basketball while exchanging texts with my son who was watching the games miles and miles away. And when I finished watching basketball, MORE BASKETBALL!
I exchanged Facebook texts with my other children, which was wonderful because there were moments, out of the blue, when I became overwhelmed by a suffocating loneliness, the kind that a mom probably would have just sucked up and then carried on, likely while defending the homestead from rabid raccoons and lifting a car off a child and then gotten no credit for any of it, because moms and wives are awesome and tough and resourceful and deserve all the applause they can get.
I may have hugged a cat.