I’m lucky for many reasons. Among them is that The Wife rarely travels for work.
Last month was a bit unusual in that she flew to Washington, DC, for a daytrip and had an overnight excursion in Columbus, OH. She attended training seminars on both occasions.
For plenty of stay-at-home parents, this sort of business travel is routine. And let’s not forget the single parents who go it alone all day, every day.
For me, lone wolf parenting is something new. Even as a stay-at-home dad, I rely on The Wife to help start the day. It’s a thankless task. Most mornings, I’m about as friendly as a tollbooth operator with a cold sore.
I lean on The Wife even more in the evening. I usually have dinner prepared when she returns home. Then, she bathes the boys, puts them to bed and cleans up the kitchen. I don’t entirely quit playing after 6:30 p.m., but I definitely hand off the ball.
But, I was playing with an empty backfield in October. I dropped The Wife off at the airport. She flew to Columbus as I returned to home around suppertime. I fed the boys and made myself a sandwich. No sense in making a fancy meal for one.
I skipped baths and focused instead on getting the boys into a quiet frame of mind. We read stories about sleeping: “Goodnight Moon” and “The Going to Bed Book.”
Peter went to bed easily, as did Bubba. I had this thing licked… or so I thought.
I had just begun to fall asleep at 11 p.m. when the red lights flashed on the baby monitor. Peter’s piercing cry crackled the tiny speaker, springing me from my warm bed. This is generally The Wife’s area of expertise.
I’m confident in my parenting, but I’m also well aware of my limits. In the area of calm relaxation, I fall short. To my surprise, Peter fell asleep quickly for his dear ‘ol dad. His older brother slept through the melee.
Peter’s high-pitched cry returned 45 minutes later, though he again quickly fell back asleep. I had finally entered a deep REM sleep, when the baby monitor from Bubba’s room began to blast, “Everybody’s working for the weekend!”
Loverboy’s pop single from 1981 was coming through loud and clear. I quickly realized that Bubba had accidentally set the alarm on his clock radio. He was playing DJ that afternoon, while I was changing Peter’s diaper and headbanging with a pair of the baby’s pants on my head.
Bubba never even bothered to wake up for the 1980’s anti-work anthem. I silenced the alarm and slept until Peter woke at dawn.
The Wife returned later that evening. I told her about my long day. She told me about her flight, seminars and hotel. Then, she informed me of another out-of-town meeting this month.
Hear that? It’s the cry of a lone wolf.
Article Image: cg.lindstrom, Flickr
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.