My wife left for the week on a well-deserved Cayman Islands and Cozumel Cruise with her four sisters – no husbands allowed. She left me at home in charge of taking care of five of our kids every day. This is the story of how much I miss her. It starts here.
I travel fairly often – and while I don’t relish sleeping in a hotel bed by myself, it’s usually not too bad. Last night though, I found out that sleeping in my own bed by myself sucks. Actually it doesn’t just suck… I hate it.
I couldn’t fall asleep at all last night even though I was exhausted. I finally passed out around 4 am or so and then I apparently turned off my alarm when it went off at 6:30 because I woke up suddenly at 7:25 feeling like there had been a diesel truck in my room running me over all night, non-stop. I just sat there for a minute trying to figure things out. Then I turned to wake my wife up and she was already gone.
Clarity suddenly slapped me awake like a jug of ice water as it dawned on me that my kids had to be to school in half an hour – and I was supposed to be at work 3 minutes after I drop the kids off. There wasn’t a sound coming from the kids rooms – they were still sound asleep (which is usual when they go to bed after 10). I quickly woke them all up and started telling them that we had to leave in 15 minutes. Chaos ensued almost instantly.
Now I had 5 kids wandering around sleepy-eyed complaining that they couldn’t find clothes to wear, that they couldn’t find a brush, that they had to pee, that their shoe was missing, that they were hungry…. oh crud, I need to feed them breakfast.
I pour cereal into bowls for them and go to get the milk. Reminders from the day before blast into my memory as I look in the fridge and don’t see a jug of milk. Oh mercy. I start thinking through options: pancakes, toast and jam, eggs, apples & peanut butter, blah blah blah. I’m tired of hearing the options listed out in my head so I announce I’ll be right back, running to the store 2 minutes away. I tell everyone to finish getting dressed and get their stuff together, be ready to eat when I get back.
Success! I fly to the market, head in, walk straight to the milk cooler, grab a jug, go to the cashier (nobody in line!), check out and head home. No distractions, just some funny looks as I hurry as fast as I can – I know where the milk is. I walk back in the door 5 minutes later, pour milk and tell everyone to come eat. Now it’s complaints about headaches, throat aches, tummy aches and probably some other aches. “Eat and your tummy will feel better; I’ve got to shower for work” I say to I’m not sure who. I hand them the note from my wife – somehow she managed to write a note for the kids for each day that she was going to be gone. Dang she’s awesome!
I head into the bathroom to shower, grabbing a towel on the way and making a mental note that it’s the last one. As I walk by the mirror on the way to the shower I catch of glimpse of a wild-man. I look back into the mirror and realize why I had weird looks at the store – my long-ish hair that I wear slicked back is practically standing straight up. “Nice” I mutter to the mirror, and step into the shower.
Five minutes later I’m heading back to my room and notice the time – “We need to leave 3 minutes ago!” I yell to everyone. I hurriedly get dressed and gel my hair into place then go back into the fray yelling, “Let’s GO!!!”. Twenty minutes later the four girls have finished doing each others hair to their satisfaction while I’ve been trying to not stress out about it and keep myself occupied by going over my schedule for the day. Then I shoo everyone into the car and we head for the school – 20 minutes late.
As I pull out of the driveway I’m thinking to myself, “That wasn’t too bad, at least we’re getting out of here less than an hour after I woke up.” I’m feeling a bit pleased with myself.
“Dad, I didn’t do my homework.”
“Dad, you didn’t sign my report card.”
“Dad, I forgot my costume for play practice.”
“Dad, I need an Ibuprofen for my headache.”
“Dad, blah blah blah.”
“I’ll take care of it!” I tell them all. We pull up to the school and I take them in so I can sign them in tardy. The Principal is there and greets my kids, “Rough morning?” he ribs me, “Yeah, my wife is gone for the week – things have been a little hectic.” “It’s Tuesday”, he tells me matter-of-factly. “Well, Friday will be interesting!” I fire back. I’ve got them signed in and I grab a scrap paper and scribble a note about giving my kid Ibuprofen and hand it to my youngest daughter. “I’ll email your teachers about your homework and report cards.”, I tell the others.
They all give me a hug and kiss and head for class. My youngest looks at me pensively, tears welling up in her eyes. I ask here what’s wrong. “I miss Mommy”, she says as the tears pop free. I realize that I’ve been pushing her since the moment she woke up and haven’t validated her at all this morning. I walk her over to the bench and sit down and put her on my lap, hugging her. A little later she whispers in my ear about how she feels and we talk about it for a bit. A few minutes later the tears are done and she is ready to go. She gives me a kiss and heads off for class.
Once I get to work and get settled in I email the twins teacher and tell her that my wife is on vacation and things were hectic last night and this morning – it’s my fault that the twins don’t have their report card signed. Shortly, she writes back and says “Figures”. Well, not literally, she placates me about understanding and not to worry about it but to make sure I do it tonight. I feel kind of like a third grader…
This afternoon I picked the kids up after I finished work and they finished play practice. “Dad, it’s Tuesday, I have church at 7″, “And I have Scouts at 6:30″, “And I have Achievement Days at 6″, “And I have to get my costume from Grandma’s”, “Don’t forget to sign my report card!”, “I’m hungry!” …
I spend the whole evening running kids around. Nobody, including me, gets anything done. At 8:30 everyone makes it back home. “What’s for dinner!”, a chorus asks me. “That’s easy! Leftover spaghetti!”
In the end, everyone got fed, they all got homework done and they all got in bed a little after 10. After I tucked them all in and walked through the house turning off lights and locking doors I noticed that the state of the house was nearing the ‘Heavily Damaged’ zone. I really need to clean this place up – I’m too tired right now though. I go lay on my bed thinking about how well the day went – sure we were late for well, everything. But at least we got there! Now if I can just fall asleep.
The next morning…. Read Day 3 Here.