Friday night started with an evening off. I had been on solo duty for a while, and it was nice to meet up with friends and do some game playtesting. When I got home to relieve my brother-in-law, everything was quiet. I got myself to be in a timely manner because I would be on in the morning with my wife returning from a trip on a delayed flight. That was all a great plan.
There was one thing that woke me up early on, but I have completely forgotten what that was, because the ensuing events were so much more dramatic. The first hint that all was not right was when the air jets on the tub in our bathroom started hissing with all of their might. We don’t use them as there is a bad leak when the the water level gets over the small holes. I went in to randomly punch buttons on the control panel until it stopped, and then night turned to day in my bedroom as a nearby transformer blew. The light and dark punctuated by booming sounds was fairly spectacular– something akin to being inside a fireworks display. Amazingly the kids did not wake up to this or the ensuing beeping as all of the power conditioners around the house let us know that they were not getting any juice. I am glad for them, however, as any spikes that came down the line did not hit our AV or computer equipment.
Later in the night, power was restored, and I heard more beeping for downstairs. I went down to find my wife fully asleep on the couch with the kitchen and living room lights on and the stove letting us know that it didn’t currently have a clue what time it was and we should attend to it right away.
I finally quieted it with the same random, groggy button pushing that always is a great idea with appliances, stumbled back upstairs to bed, and fell asleep until my son arrived to announce that he had peed. I grabbed some dry pajamas and a new pull-up, undressed him, pulled off his wet pull-up and found that he had done more than pee. The evidence of that was now on the floor after having bounced off my foot. Yeah, it was one of those night.
Saturday, while my wife traveled and worked, I took the kids to two very different environments, both of which are very meaningful to me. We started the morning at our CSA to pick up our farm share. This is a comfortable place where the kids know the people, they know the plants, and they are part of the place. The tractors, the chickens, the bins of produce are all familiar in a way that is core to the reasons for us being there. I want my kids to see their food grow, to pick it, and to appreciate the hard work that goes into growing it. I also want them familiar with the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes of the farm. I want it in their blood, and it is.
The afternoon saw a very different type of experience. We stopped by the Mini Maker Faire in Somerville. Here the senses were engaged not in the earthiness of vegetables, but in the beeps, honks, smokes, and more of tech and fun mixing together. There was a giant, pedal-driven baby carriage, laser powered 3D printers, duct tape spaceships, and much more. For a small gathering of tech and maker enthusiasts, it was a great quick afternoon experience for the kids who were already a bit tired from the morning at the farm.
Our nanny was sick on Thursday which led to a scramble to figure out the afternoon pickups. My son gets picked up from school at 12:30 with the possibility of staying until 3:30. My daughter gets picked up at 2:55 and then has to be taken to her chorus a few blocks away. I was lucky that this was parent/teacher conference day at my school, and I could leave after reporting to the directors at a meeting about the work I had been doing for the week. My wife arranged for a long-standing babysitter who cares for the children of another family to pick up my son at the 12:30 time and take him to their house. I then picked up my daughter, zipped by that house to get my son, dropped off my daughter to her chorus, brought the car home, took a short break with my son, walked over to chorus to pick up my daughter, and then came home to start the whole evening routine. We even stopped in at the library to drop off old books, renew the potty book, and get some new books that are all a bust. Time to order new books again. Then dinner, bath, and bed routine followed. Hope they sleep well.
One of the greatest fears I had going back to full-time work was the lack of quality contact time with my children. That and the increased responsibilities for solo evening care had me worried because the dinner/bath/bed routine can be somewhat less than quality time. My foreboding, though the year is just begun, has for the most part been unneeded. The increased evening solo hours have given me time to bond with the kids. There have certainly been unpleasant evenings, but there have been plenty of good ones, too. It is more than a silver lining; in fact, once the lining becomes gold, it may not even be a lining anymore. These are just the golden moments of our time together as long as we all make it so.
The fun begins. This year, my wife is undertaking quite a bit with a new masters and training for her job the following year. This means lots of reading and prepping, and it means quite a few nights of work through the dinner-bath-bed time. This week, I get Monday through Thursday after taking the kids during the day quite a bit over the weekend. There are positives and negatives to this increased solo time. One positive is that we are finding a rhythm as a threesome, and the evenings are going more smoothly than other solo nights before. It also somewhat makes up for not being home two days a week with my kids, but the evening is not really a nice trade off for the two days. It is time together, however, and making the best of it will be important moving forward and for a long time. The kids are adjusting to not seeing Mommy as much, but they are still figuring that out. I think our son’s early morning, read 4:30ish, forays into our room are a reflection of this.
Both kids are showing us that they miss us. Unfortunately, they don’t just say, “Mommy and Daddy, I miss spending days with you now that I am going to school, so could we please spend some quality time together when we are all home?” Instead they get fussy and clingy which, after a full day of work, gets a bit hard to readjust my brain to understand is just them communicating their needs. Friday evening, I entered the house to find my son in full-on communication. I was able to pull him upstairs and hold him for a while and read a book. It helped both of us get a little less fussy.
This morning, I was not getting up at my usual 6:00 to jump on a bike and get in to school. After staying up last night with my wife discussing her course options that had to be finalized today, I was ready for as much sleep as the kids would allow. That turned out to be one wakeup from my son in the early hours of the morning and one wake up by my daughter who was wet and needed a sheet and mattress pad change. All-in-all, I did get more sleep. I also was able to spell my wife who has been handling the mornings for a few weeks. I got the kids through breakfast and then headed out. It felt great to steal this time that I won’t be able to do when the year really starts. I love hanging out with my kids in the morning.
These days at work are very full. I have led 3 hours of training in the last three days, and today one group was less than happy with what I was delivering. Today was probably one of the more stressful days in the last while. Even in the midst of this, I am regularly thinking about my kids and wanting to be with them. I was walking home from the T, and my neighbor and now co-worker was trying to get my attention. I was so focused on getting home that I didn’t hear him until he caught up with me. This separation is a powerful new perspective on my relationship with my kids.
My new routine is beginning. I leave before the kids are up, but today, I did see them before I left for a few minutes. I return in the evening to start dinner and get things going. Today, that included getting laundry started.
I wonder how it will feel on Friday after doing this all week.
This year, I will return to full-time work after having been home with my kids part time for the last two years. My son is already noticing my absence and showing me what it feels like. When I get home and offer attention, he grunts and turns away. I hope this will change as we settle into our new patterns, but right now it does not feel too good.