I asked my son about which of the two potential topics I wanted to write about would be best shared on my blog, he answered, "How you dealt with Dad being away".
(If you are curious about the second topic I considered blogging, about self-regulation and my to-do list, just check my Twitter account from Friday November 3 to Sunday November 5.)
My husband, whom I have written about before, is a stay-at-home writer. His second occupation, albeit the one that takes up more of his time, is taking care of me, our two children, and the house. I am almost embarrassed to admit how little I do to maintain our home. His willingness to take on additional tasks allows me time to do extra things like voluntarily run a magazine, take AQ (additional qualification) courses, or travel to conferences, for which I am grateful.
An opportunity arose for James to attend a convention and see some friends that he had only been able to associate with online - and/but the conference was out of the country. James was hesitant about going. Part of the reluctance was because he is an anxious traveller, but he was also nervous about leaving us alone. He was genuinely concerned about how we would survive without him. The three of us reassured him that everything would be fine. The reminders he fired at us were almost comical, if you didn't consider that many of these jobs are tasks I never do.
"You'll need to wake up the children so they can get ready for school."
"Don't forget to feed everyone. Not just out-food."
"Remember to do the laundry. The kids need clean uniforms."
To ease his mind and conscience, the "ones left behind" had a meeting and we planned the meals for the week and scheduled when to wash dishes, clean clothes, and mind the pets.
He left on Halloween in the afternoon and returns late on November 6.
So, how did we do?
We managed quite satisfactorily. I realized that
a) I'm actually capable of being domestic
b) James does a LOT of work around the house
c) I'm grateful for technology that makes household tasks easier
For instance, James makes a point of waking us up personally and walking our teens to the bus stop in the morning - it's his chance to have some quiet time with them before the day begins. We set three alarms just in case one failed. They didn't fail. We didn't sleep in. We awoke, but more with a start than with a gentle nudge. The first full day hubby was away, the kids had a PLC schedule so they left after I had already gone to school. The next day, I walked them to the bus stop and noticed how cold, wet, dark and dreary it was. I vowed that the next day, I'd rather drive them to school than make that less-than-cheerful trek. James doesn't have that option because we only have one car, but while it's just the three of us, I'm using the car and skipping the early-morning wait.
We are also having new floor installed on the first level of the house and got a new dishwasher as well, which adds to the overall chaos. I was worried about having to do dishes by hand but the new dishwasher was installed before he left and it works very well. I actually remember to load the dishwasher and run it! It's amazing how I can step up to the plate when it's required. Usually, I don't even notice the pile of plates in the sink. Now, I even rinsed them before putting them in the machine.
How might this connect to school? I think that sometimes we need to create situations where students have no choice but to take charge of situations because if left to our own devices, we continue to keep to our designated roles and responsibilities. Will things be done as well as when the regular person or teacher does it? Probably not - I know I'm relieved that I don't have to come up with more than a week's worth of dinner ideas, because cooking is not my forte - but when there's no option, it's surprising how successful people can be at doing jobs they aren't used to doing. I think this also links to gratitude. I have a little sign I keep by my computer at home that reminds me to give my spouse priority time > notice the work he's done around the house, give him my full attention without distractions, and "fill his bucket". Now that I've had to do many of these tasks by myself or with the help of my son and daughter, I am grateful for how my husband does these tasks daily without complaint. Students and teachers can sometimes just assume that things run because "that's how it's done" - taking it away (like not having the library open every day at recess for free choice visits) makes them appreciate the effort behind the scenes it takes to make it happen and not take it for granted.
I've had a couple of emails from my husband while he's away - he is enjoying himself a lot but misses us and will be happy to be home. We'll be happy to have him back (and maybe a bit more appreciative of what he does day after day).