Absence makes the heart unable to take out the garbage

There's a perception that a lot of husbands don't cope very well when their wives are away from home and they're left to manage with the kids alone. There are tales of wild junk-food fests, failure to bathe, horrifying wardrobe combinations, and general chaos and disaster. Some wives fill the refrigerator with meals and lay out clothes for each day they will be absent. Some wives write out a schedule of events and staple it to their husbands' shirts. Some wives just don't go away for fear of the carnage they will find when they return.

I am not one of those wives.

I have a friend whose husband's memory is extremely bad. He has received a phone call from his mother reminding him to bring a certain item to dinner, agreed to bring the item, hung up the phone, ignored the item which is sitting right beside him, and left for dinner. Once when we were on the way to a friend's cottage, she realized she had forgotten to remind her husband to bring her son to soccer. She immediately called him, ascertained that he had indeed forgotten to go to soccer, made sounds of exasperation, and hung up. Her sister, unmarried and childless, said "why on earth did you call him? It was already too late to remind him to go. The only purpose you served by calling him was to make him feel bad". All the mothers in the car looked around at each other thinking 'well duh, that's why she called him."

I actually sort of yearn for the day when I come home from a couple of days away and find a smoking pile of french fries, unfinished homework and stripes and polka dots. When my husband is here he can't remember his own name without my help. "So remember how I'm having that heart transplant tomorrow?" "What? Heart? When? Do I know you?" I leave movies for him to return where he'll have to step over them to go out the door and I still have to chase him down the driveway with them. He routinely loses his wallet, keys and work badge. I go away? He instantly becomes a super-efficient child-minding machine with a flawless grasp of the appointments and events on the calendar. This past week-end while I was in Toronto he got the kids to make homemade pizza (crust and all), got Eve to two birthday parties and Angus to a hockey game and a practice plus team pictures. The kitchen's usually spotless when I get home. I went to Halifax when Eve was three and he REPAINTED HER BEDROOM! Honestly, is that not just a tiny bit obnoxious? When I'm home I'm lucky if I can get a picture hung inside of six months.

I don't really wish he would fall apart without me. I don't need things to fall to crap when I'm gone to feel needed (do I? I don't think I do). I'm glad he takes the opportunity to do something fun and different with the kids when he has them to himself. And in my defense, if the kitchen isn't spotless when he gets home, it's usually because he's been away a week or two and not a day or two, and at some point something's gotta give -- and it usually involves the green bin.

And if I really want to feel like I've been missed? There's always the laundry room.


Kelly Miller said…
Mine is a mix of the two extremes. They'll eat pizza and eggs for days on end and the carpet will be vacuumed, but the dishes will just pile up. And the kids' teeth won't be brushed, but they'll have clean, matching clothes on.
Nicole said…
Wait. He repainted the bedroom? The kitchen is spotless? Seriously? THE MAN IS A GOD. Well, except for the inability to do anything in your presence. That is kind of obnoxious :)
Gwen said…
LOL! Dan is the same, which is incredibly irritating. I have seen his "super" abilities, and it's freakish because I have also had to teach him to use the washing machine...500 times!
Mary Lynn said…
Whenever I go away for an extended length of time I feel the need to ensure that Ed and the kids have a busy social calendar to hide the fact that I've abandoned him. I make him phone his parents to make plans to visit, or I finagle him an invitation to visit friends. I'm sure he'd be perfectly fine just hanging out with the kids on his own, without all my help.

I can't believe he repainted while you were away!
Anonymous said…
I am going away for the first time next August, and I guess we'll see.

Things totally fall apart for me when my husband's gone. Sometimes, even when he's gone to work for 8 hours. Whereas he is much tidier and better-organized in general. I fear I may have the same experience as you. :/
Julie said…
while he doesn't fall apart when i am gone, he definitely doesn't turn into super dad and repaint bedrooms. heck, being home all summer he got exactly ZERO projects done!! he didn't even have the jellybean to take care of. explain that to me.
alison said…
My ex was the leave-a-list-and-clothes-laid-out-for-every-day kind of father. In fact, while clearing out a closet, I found the list of instruction I left for him when Leah was 4 and Rae was 2 and I left for a 5-day conference in Colorado. It was 6 pages long and included instructions on how to run the washer and dryer. No lie.
Pam said…
I am a schedule maker, so that when he looks up from the crackberry he knows what to do. OK, he's not all that bad and has been known to clean out the fridge when I'm not looking.
SuziCate said…
Funny, my hubby used to do the same thing...I think it's their effort to prove they can do it alone, but just don't want to.
Shan said…
Mine is pretty much the same way. Sometimes. He usually flips between being super dad to texting me to see when I'm coming back already.

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