Yesterday was Sunday, and unlike most Sundays advertised in all those sweet Normal Rockwell paintings and celebrity interviews, this one was particularly hectic. For me, anyway, or so I thought. I had a bunch of errands to run in the morning, namely to pick out a baby shower gift for a friend of mine, and then a baby shower to attend (if those two events seem entirely too coincidental, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am extremely proactive in my gift purchasing, thank you. Also, congratulations, Amy. I hope you liked the diaper bag. Just don’t look at the date on the gift receipt).
So yesterday morning I did what any good mother would do, and abandoned my children to the care of their father (“They eat what for a snack? Where’s that?”), and ran out of the door with a mad leap. I took David’s car, a normal sedan that, though it drives really well on its fancy-schmancy tires, seems so low to the ground after being used to my big SUV that I feel like I’m driving a skateboard. I’d have preferred taking my trusty Helga (oh, you knew that I name our cars. Don’t act surprised), but it’s the one with the car seats. That, and after all those years of driving my teeny little stick-shift matchbox cars, I still feel guilty driving the gas guzzler when I don’t have to. Win one for the pseudo-hippy.
So off I went. A trip to the store came first (not telling you which one, though it may have a backwards “R” in the name). After that I had a half hour to kill before the soiree, so I ducked into a coffee shop (that most definitely may have the word “Star” in its name and takes a lot of your “bucks.” Har har har). And then I got to hang out with my buddy for a bit and watch her open teeny tiny clothes and little bitty blankets (all the while thinking that my gosh, the infant stage goes by so quickly, and my goodness, you’re sleep deprived in the early months. But congrats, Amy. You and Tom will be fine). And then, since I’d skipped church that morning to run my, er, errands (bad Catholic!), I made it to the 5 o’clock mass in town (good Catholic!) with a quick stop at my mom’s to say hi.
What’s my point with all of this? I’m getting to it, don’t worry. See, I was the only stay-at-home mom in the group today, surrounded by teachers, retired and not, and moms, mostly of kids that are grown. There was a lot of empathatic chit-chat there about how tough it is to be a parent in the early years, how it’s so wonderful but chaotic to be at home. The entire time, I’ll admit, I was gleefully thinking of David, whom I imagined at home, sprawled out, exhausted, on the floor, with children climbing all over him, surrounded by a house terrorized by toys and laundry. I was thinking of his grand plans to grill a dinner that night for himself and the children, and laughed to myself when I assumed I’d probably come home to a pizza and children who’d missed their baths, getting ready for bed. All the way home, I braced myself to walk into a mess, telling myself that this was the first day in a very long time that David had been alone for so long with the girls, but that this was a good way for him to truly understand how taxing it is to be the full-time parent. I might be tidying up till 9, I thought, but at least, he’ll truly know what it’s like.
So I walked into the house, holding my breath. And I saw nothing. No toys. No dog hair. No dirty dishes and half-eaten pizza. The main floor was immaculate. Toys, put away. Magazines, stacked on the coffee table. Dishes, in the dishwasher, sink smelling like Soft Scrub. The dining room table, which was shining, was set neatly for one, and a plate full of freshly grilled, absolutely fantastic looking food was waiting for me. Laundry had been folded, and I heard another load whirring away in the dryer. I looked around, wary of the quiet, and finally found my family in the bathroom, where David was giving two extremely happy little girls their baths. Quinn was so excited to see me she almost fell out of the tub, so it took me while to notice: he’d cleaned the bathrooms. During the kids’ naps, he’d done about a zillion loads of laundry and cleaned the bathrooms. My mouth still sort of hanging open from shock, we tucked the kids into bed, we chatted, he gave me a kiss, and then went out for a run.
He’s making me look bad. I don’t like it. Being a full-time parent is hard, people. Don’t let David fool you. It’s tough. It’s not all nicely set tables and clean children and folded underwear, no sirree. I don’t care what my husband’s carefree, I-got-this multitasking would leave you to believe. Unless you’re Amy, who’s going to be home for a couple of years with her baby. Amy? It’s cake. You got this. Just come look at my clean house and happy kids as proof. But only when David’s been home, please.