There’s nothing like a change in family routines to shake things up a bit.
I recently had to be away for what turned out to be two weeks. Before departing, I left a multi-page note covering our two daughters’ routines – from when P.E. or library day was, to times for piano lessons and basketball practice. It’s not rocket science, but there is a method to the juggling madness that makes up my daily life, and for someone (my husband) who wasn’t used to these details, I decided to err on the side of caution. Also, this was the first time I’d ever left the girls for this long, so maybe I was a tad rigid about it.
My husband is perfectly capable, and he’s a good Dad. Before moving to China, actually, the girls never saw him leave the house for work as he was self-employed. So moving here was a big adjustment for us all, although five years in Beijing has changed the work-home dynamics drastically (unfortunately, it feels too much like single-parenthood for many of us). I could sense he was actually getting a touch nervous as the time for me to leave approached – he asked questions about school lunches and snacks, and contact numbers for play dates (all of which were on my previously mentioned lengthy list).
However, I stayed longer than my list lasted. And some details I simply hadn’t anticipated.
I didn’t mention those last minute birthday party invitations that might come up (and did) – where my stash of presents is kept and how to arrange carpooling if necessary. I completely ignored Valentine’s Day because our school rarely recognizes country-specific holidays (other than Chinese), so the day-before requests by teachers to send in treats left a bit of a scramble at home.
I did make the correct assumption that my youngest would basically be “adopted” by her best friend’s family for the two weeks, and I was right – homework help, dinner, sleepovers, play dates, and even one of those late-notice birthday parties were all covered (thank you, Nancy!). What I should have also assumed is that my oldest might take full advantage of the fact that I was gone and Daddy might not “know better.”
Granted, the concussion occurred at school and it was the recommendation of the doctor to get the CT scan done. I completely agree with that. But the relief in finding that all was well might – MIGHT – have gotten her one or two days off of school…certainly not the three she was granted. And yep, that day was a no-drive day for us, so we now have that fine to contend with (I left out the car restriction days on my list, oops!). The trip to the hair dresser with the innocent question, “Can I get pink highlights?” when I’ve told her no too many times to count? Well, those pink highlights now have to grow out before she re-earns the right to receive the hair feathers she asked me to bring back. The tooth fairy also visited her two nights in a row as two teeth actually did fall out on their own, but apparently that said tooth fairy gives a huge raise when I’m away. Not sure how to let Leah down easy that substitute tooth fairies don’t set the regular rate.
These things (and all the others I don’t know about), of course, are all harmless in light of much more serious events in life. And my being away gave my husband extra time to spend with our girls as well as a newfound appreciation for my role in our family – neither one a bad thing.
I returned home on a Wednesday and he promptly left the country on Monday. While he usually dreads these work trips, I think he almost skipped to the airport, perhaps just grateful not to have to pack lunches at night anymore and wonder if he forgot anything before school.
I’m glad to be back in charge of managing the daily schedule. I’m glad to be home. And now I better go pack some lunches.