Once a year my wife decides to visit her family in Minnesota, leaving me in charge of the homestead. It’s an event I look forward to for weeks – OK, months. No wiping a four-year-old’s buttocks, refereeing fights over $1 toys from Target or settling into bed only to hear, “Dad, can I have some chock-a-lik milk?”
Heaven, indeed, is a place on earth to quote a certain pop princess.
So why do I feel as alone as the guy in the Roy Orbison song?
I usually devise a master plan for my free weekend, lining up critical chores, a guy’s night out or something else that’s darn near impossible to do under standard conditions.
This time, my “to do” list is so long I might not even crack the Table of Contents before I’m picking the family up at the airport Monday morning. I’m also missing Mrs. Daddylibrium and the boys more than expected.
So what changed? In brief, my kids did.
Having toddlers is the most demanding part of my life to date. Long hours, few breaks and every day you’re faced with a spanking new challenge you have no idea how to solve. Lately, things have been … different. Eli, our four year old, is a doll who does as told 90 percent of the time and is a fountain of sunny proclamations. Ben, the poster boy for the Terrible Twos, is showing signs of maturity I never thought possible.
I feared he would be 15 and still throwing tantrums that would make Dr. Spock curl into the fetal position.
My wife and I would look at each other on Saturday nights, slumped on our sofa after spending an entire day with our boys, and silently wish for Monday to hurry up and come. Work is far easier than this.
Today, I watched an episode of “Modern Family,” a comedy so wise it should be mandatory viewing before you consider marriage. The lovely Claire (Julie Bowen) is giddy that she has a dinner date with her teen daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland). Mom rarely gets quality time with her oldest daughter, and of course the teen eventually leaves Mom to hang with her friends.
For now, my boys have no desire to be anywhere else but by our side most days. But the time is coming when they’ll rather be at the park, with their friends or even at school.
When my boys return from their trip they’ll attach themselves to my hip anew. And I’ll hug them as if I never want to let them go – even for a weekend.
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