I love those movies that give you a glimpse of what life would be like if something dramatic changed (aka learning it’s a wonderful life after all). This weekend, I got that glimpse with my wife out of town in Nashville. For 3 days, it was me solo with the girls for the first time… As I type this, I’ve somehow managed to get all three to sleep for a nap and for the first time in days I have a quiet moment to myself. Here’s what I’ve learned I’m thankful for:
I’ve probably texted my wife, well the number doesn’t matter. Let’s just say that I now fully understand how much I need her. Simple things like how many times am I supposed to feed this baby (speaking of which, what exactly should I feed her again?) She wrote a schedule for me before she left, but somehow it ended up in London’s mouth so I kind of had to wing it for the past day or so. It’s fine, she didn’t miss any meals (almost 95% sure). Besides all that, do you know how hard it is to be at the grocery store by myself with the kids or lonely it feels to be sitting in church surrounded by couples and I’m sitting there by myself holding my child? I have a huge amount of newfound respect for single parents, especially single dads. I called my own mom yesterday and gave her a slow clap for all the years that she held it down raising my siblings and I.
Being a single parent is constantly having to choose between fixing the battery in the alarm system that’s been beeping for weeks, or taking a quick nap. No one should ever have to make that choice. Naps will win every time, and you’ll likely never hear the end of that alarm beeping sound (as has been my story the past few days).
Here’s one other HUGE reason why I miss mommy: I’ve never heard my name called so many times in one day. Literally, it reminds me of my first year teaching when I had to tell my students that I was allergic to my name and they weren’t allowed to call me for anything for the next 15 minutes (it worked on 2nd graders so…). Now I get why my wife is always talking about how she can’t be home and just be left alone. These little people will find you, follow you, and ask millions of questions. Go figure.
Routines were my saving grace all weekend. When in doubt, do what we always do, which actually turns out to be great advice for kids because they like structure (as do I). Besides, we spent good time as parents coming up with these routines so that we don’t have to think anymore (or rather make things easier on everybody…). So, since Friday night in our house is usually family movie night, once I arrived home I popped popcorn and we sat around and watched Minions (again). Unfortunately we don’t have a Saturday routine besides breakfast so I had to get a bit creative (more on that later), but on Sunday it was back to routines again. We made it to church early, got everyone in their respective Sunday school classes, afterwards went to Kidstuff and even had time for Sunday brunch back at the house before nap time.
One routine I was particularly proud of was the one depicted in this picture below. It’s us at Targetl and the girls were trying to decide what to purchase with the money from their give, save, spend pouches. I’ve written before how we’re intentional about training our kids to think about financial stewardship, so it was really cool seeing Riley and Olivia make decisions. As the responsible 6 year old, Riley choose to only spend $2 and save the rest for a bigger toy. Olivia, the impulsive 3 year old that she is, wanted to spend all of her money (included the money in her save pouch) to purchase a wand. When I asked her if she was sure, and if that’s really what she wanted she said, “I want it because the girl on the box has a wand and she likes it.” Congratulations corporate America, your marketing works! 24 hours later, she’s still proud of her purchase so I can’t fault her for being confident in her decision.
This wouldn’t be a weekend alone with the girls without random things that happen with kids that always leave you laughing or simply taking a deep sigh. We got caught in a monsoon leaving Ponce City Market after visiting the playground at Old 4th Ward. That was a laughing and sighing moment when I finally collapsed inside the van. You can picture me running to a van, baby strapped to my chest, holding 2 others by the hand as we run through the rain. I overheard a conversation between Riles and Olivia during the thunderstorm that went something like this…Riley, are you afraid of the light danger (lighting)? Yes, a little bit. [Olivia] No! You’re not supposed to be afraid, you’re the 6 year old. I’m the 3 year old. I can be afraid. [Riley] But you’re older than London, she’s just a baby!
Or this morning at kidstuff, a family event after church were parents and kids learn about the upcoming month’s theme (this month it’s honesty). We sat in the front row for the first time and it was kind of cool just watching Riley run up on stage, man she’s really growing up.
I guess that’s been the best part of this weekend overall, getting to see my girls through the lens of primary caretaker. Truth be told, I’m a present and engaged dad, but there’s a lot I don’t have to do- I have a lot of help. Grandma is a constant rock and presence in the girls lives, (she even did the girls hair so that when my wife was out of town I would be able to take them out of the house looking presentable lol). When she texted me on Saturday to check in, it was another reminder of the village it takes. And then there’s my wife, my partner who never ceases to amaze me. I may do a lot of the cleaning, organizing, thinking big picture for our family, but she’s the one who really executes most of our family’s vision. That probably sounds familiar to those who know us well. We’re coming up on our 11 year marriage anniversary next month and it’s just been cool seeing her morph over the past 6 years into this mother figure that is simply amazing.
As she drives back now (only to head back out a few ours later for the Beyonce concert!), I can’t wait for her to get home. Mostly because I miss her. But also…because I’m thinking I could use a few hours away because if one more kid asks me a question about anything…