When we lived in Portland, my wife and I both had full-time jobs. Like any dual-income couple, we had all the joy of trying to plan vacations with the kids. One of the easiest vacations, though, was visiting my in-laws. My wife’s parents live in southern California, only ten minutes from Disneyland. Flights between Portland and LA were plentiful and cheap, with specials to be had. We could see them a lot on quick trips.
Now, with us living in Atlanta and my wife being a stay-at-home mom, visits her parents became a dearer proposition. However, it opened up different possibilities. When summer comes, my wife can take the kids for extended stays in California.
However, I don’t get an extended stay. While I can usually get away for a week, longer trips are problematic. (Trust me, I’m not complaining. I have a good job where I stay busy. In this economy, that’s a gift.) So, summers find me taking my wife and kids to the airport for a month long visit to California, with me joining them for a week while they’re out there. While I’m home, though, it’s a big lonely house.
So what’s a guy to do with himself when he’s got his evenings free?
I shouldn’t have worried, my wife left me a list.
It all started with an e-mail. My wife, who manages our house well, started sending me notes as she remembered things.
“The Nordy’s bill will come the first week we’re gone. Bring it with you when you come. I’ll pay for it in the store.”
“The gas bill charges extra if we pay it with credit. Send a check before you go.”
If the lawn people call to schedule a spraying, tell them they can’t come until after the 23rd. They tried to visit last time when only three weeks had passed. It’s a waste if they don’t wait a month.
“Make sure you water my flowers every day.”
“Would you mind re-grouting and re-caulking our shower?”
I’ve pre-made some stuff for you and it’s in the freezer. You can thaw it and fix it for yourself when you get home.
And on and on and on.
So, what’s a dutiful husband to do? First, I have to marvel a bit. There’s lots of little things that occur every day. I just didn’t realize how much. And there’s no way I’m going to remember all of it. Instead, I just print out the notes, affix them to the fridge with a magnet, and check things off as I get them done.
Still, that doesn’t address everything. My wife called me at work yesterday, concerned. She’d gone on-line to check our accounts and realized I hadn’t charged jacksquat at Kroger and Wal-Mart. “Are you eating?” she asked, convinced I’d lost 20 pounds in five days and that I was doing my impression of Tom Hanks in “Castaway.”
“I’m fine, Honey. You put a lot in the freezer. I’ve just been thawing it out and eating it.”
It’s a nice feeling to know she’s worried. I’d be lost without her. But it’s still a big empty house and I can’t wait for her and the boys to come home.