Everything is weird when SigO is out of town.
We’ve come to rely on my Significant Other (SigO) more than we think. Not like for picking up kids or helping with homework even—he does that, but I mean that the house feels different when he’s not here. We lived more years without him than with him, and for six solid years I was the only grown-up. I was defender of the house and in charge of all the basic life stuff and all the necessary yelling. I mowed and shoveled and cooked and occasionally even cleaned. You would think the family balance when it is just the boys and I would be relatively even. But it’s not. Somehow, everything goes astray.
My eldest refused to believe my definition of the word "flabbergast" was accurate. I reminded him that I have a master's degree in writing, and one thing I am really good at is vocabulary. Nope, he still had to google to double-check me. I wanted to scream "You will respect my authoritah" a la Cartman on South Park. I used to be the one who was Officially in Charge of Knowing Everything.
I also used to be the One Who Must be Obeyed, but I've been demoted there, as well. Take the dog. When SigO isn’t home, he starts roaming around and doing all sorts of bad dog things that are not part of his normal cantankerous personality. I mean, generally he lies in his dog bed and farts all day. Smelling is kind of his only hobby. But when SigO is gone, Dog paces back and forth and I hear his little doggie toenails on the hardwood floor—tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick—all day long. You may not think that’s so bad, but it is irritating. And clearly, his other common activity—pooping in the living room ten minutes after coming inside—is far from acceptable. Which he also only does when SigO is gone.
None of us sleep. The kids seem to think I am not capable of defending them properly from monsters and there’re always extra tears at bedtime. I can’t blame them, though, because I sleep poorly, too, even though I leave a light on like a little kid. The cat feels the disruption in the space-time continuum as well and comes and sleeps on my bed (directly on top of me if possible) which would be cuter if I weren’t allergic.
There’s this inexplicable increase in pandemonium which can’t be properly accounted for. The correlation of chaos to the ratio of adults:children must be exponential, because there is no rational reason for the complete breakdown of the household otherwise.
For example, my 11-year-old got his hand stuck in the rungs of the kitchen chair this morning. He started to cry and absolutely refused to try and work it back out again. I had to pull free him before it swelled and got stuck forever. Then the 8-year-old started crying because his brother was crying. And the dog was running all over the kitchen because when SigO isn't home he likes to stand on the table and eat waffles.
I understood now how people can start smoking crack before breakfast. But I had no crack and figured I probably shouldn't start now. I used to be able to do this. I single-mothered like a baller. And why is the dog standing here just looking at me? What does he even want from me? I fed him. I let him out. Nothing in his world happens at 9:31 am, ever. I guess what they say about losing skills you don’t use is at least halfway valid. SigO better come home soon or I will need remedial single parent training.
But I can say is that all this confusion and turmoil is indicative of what a stable family-unit we have become. In spite of our rocky beginnings as a family-unit, we've finally settled into one, and the chaos is proof of that. It may not feel like a win this morning, but I’m taking it as one.
More from parenting