I didn’t think we’d survive it. I didn’t think we’d survive it, but we did. What’s more, I thought no good could come of it, but I think that maybe some did.
Last week I had knee surgery, and my husband, Matt, stayed home to take care of the kids and me. I did not expect it to go well. For one thing, he had to work at home, and he hates doing that, unless there’s a “matinee” involved, and this time, that was out of the question. His computer runs slower with remote access and he’s constantly banging on it and yelling at it and saying, “Come ON, computer!” and, “I did not do that!” when we all know the computer is not capable of acting on its own volition and he damn well DID do that. Mostly his behavior just seeds a negative cloud over the whole house and makes being at home with him quite unpleasant.
This week he had more responsibility than just staying home. Most of the time when he works from home, even when I’m sick, I wind up packing my daughter Rose’s lunch and my son Christian’s diaper bag and I dress at least one of them and I make sure Rose has her show and tell toy and I send them out the door, waving. This week Matt had to pack lunches and diaper bag and show and tell and drive to preschool and coordinate with the babysitter. After school, he had to pick them up, get them down for naps, not to mention changing all of Christian’s diapers and reminding Rose to go to the potty and assisting when necessary. He’s never done all of that. Even when Christian was born and Matt was on paternity leave, we had a close friend staying with us to help with all the day-to-day stuff.
In addition to managing the kids, he had to go grocery shopping. As I do, he kept making plans to go shopping and something – naps, tantrums, exhaustion, work – preempted them and he couldn’t go. He finally went grocery shopping on Thursday night, and to my surprise, he brought both kids with him. I thought for sure he would leave one home with me while I fought my migraine. And he only called once from the supermarket. In the past, a trip to the supermarket — no matter how short the list — meant three phone calls at least. On one shopping trip he called me seven times. Seven. I did try to make the list as specific as I could this time, because he complains that it’s always too vague and that’s why he calls.
I’m not saying that what I do is terribly difficult or strenuous, but it’s definitely misunderstood. When Matt had to prepare the kids in the morning, drive the kids to school, meet the babysitter, give her instructions, come home and work, leave to pick them up at school and at the babysitter across town and get them down for a nap before he could work again, I think he developed a little bit of appreciation of what I do every day.
This is why I think he may get it. One day he didn’t get to shower until 5 p.m. Another day he was exhausted because Christian had woken him up early but he couldn’t nap because he had to work. Christian almost didn’t make preschool last week because Matt complained that he wouldn’t be able to work at all if he took him to class. I wound up taking him and I wasn’t able to sit on the floor so I kept getting chairs and people kept taking them from me. It was exhausting but that’s another story. Matt took Rose out to get the groceries I’d forgotten to list and to pick up my migraine medication and he forgot my medication. I wish I hadn’t been the victim in it but at least he saw how it’s easy to forget things like that.
Matt did experience some of the perks of working at home, though. He worked in his pajamas. He showered and dressed at his whim. He made breakfast. He took a “Price is Right” break. But as the week wore on and I wasn’t helping him with the kids or taking care of myself, I think he realized just how much I do. He hasn’t said anything, of course, but just seeing him flustered at getting all of the household stuff managed is reward enough. Well, maybe not. Maybe I’d like to hear some words of appreciation. But as long as I get my next day off without a spontaneous conflicting “WebEx” popping up, I’m not gonna push it.