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“We’ve sold the company.” I actually gasped and clutched my chest when my husband, Mark, called from Toronto with the news.
I stopped my important business (scrubbing the dog poop out of the carpet) to hear his important business, and then I cried. Happy tears.
It was everything I had been asking the universe to make happen. For seven years.
As a geologist running a mining company, Mark was away for one-third of the year. Four months. We had three small children and no family in town. It was horrible.
There were many missed sporting events and dance recitals. We could rarely commit to a social engagement because Mark’s schedule was sporadic, and we never had much notice of when he would be leaving.
I would often hear on Monday, “I’m flying to New York tomorrow and Boston on Wednesday. I might be back Friday.”
Every kid ended up in ER while Mark was away. I had pneumonia. Holly had hand, foot and mouth disease; Lily had fifth’s disease, and Logan had leprosy. Okay, maybe it was just really bad diarrhea, but it felt like it was leprosy.
For seven years, Mark has been either preparing for a trip or recovering from a trip when at home. His jet lag left everyone exhausted.
We celebrated the buyout with dinner and champagne and talked about our new freedom. We made plans and shared fantasies.
“I can make dinner every night,” Mark said with wonder. “I can walk the girls to school. I can tuck the kids into bed. I can plant a garden. I can fish. I can set up my recording studio and start a band. It is going to be amazing.”
“I can get a Pap test without someone sitting on my stomach,” I said with delight.
Mark was planning on taking four months off before pursuing a new professional adventure. The universe had listened.
About a week after the big news, I had a dream. In my dream, I had 13 minutes to sit down and have a cup of tea before I had to wake up Logan from his nap before we picked up his sisters from school.
I had emptied the dishwasher twice, done five loads of laundry, read stories, played Lego, coloured a dragon, kissed countless boo-boos, played goalie with a Styrofoam sword, shopped for groceries with a two-year-old I was trying to potty train, and put dinner in the crock pot.
Mark walked in, looked at my cup of tea and said: “So, this is what you do all day?”
I woke up gasping and clutching my chest. He’s going to be home all the time.
I adore my husband. He is a devoted daddy and we miss him desperately when he is away. And not just because he takes out the compost bucket. He has created a beautiful life for our family.
But I should have been clearer with the universe. I wanted him in the same city every day, not the same house. With me.
I am often a single parent and I have a routine, a schedule, an order that must never be tampered with. It would throw the Earth off its axis and we’d all die. He might want to change things. He might want (gulp) an opinion.
I tried to talk myself through it, but kept seeing Mark making a one-pot meal that would take 20 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to eat and 90 minutes for me to clean up.
My anxiety level rose. He doesn’t know the way to school, I thought. They are going to get lost.
He doesn’t know that we have to leave at 8:22. That there needs to be adequate time for Logan to lie down on the road, refusing to go on, for Holly to forget her backpack and run home to get it, and for Lily to have a panic attack that we are going to be late.
I started to hyperventilate. He doesn’t know that Lily needs a teeny note in her lunch, I thought. It needs to be big enough for her to see it, but small enough that the other kids don’t see it.
He doesn’t know that Holly needs two twirls, two hugs that last four seconds each and three kisses before she goes into kindergarten.
He doesn’t know that Logan needs to push the little cart at Safeway. There is only one, and if he sees another kid with his cart, you have to leave the store. Immediately.
I finally fell back to sleep after tossing and turning all night. I wasn’t the only one.
Mark looked a little tired in the morning. Maybe he had a dream where I said: “Well, since you’re home all day now, you might as well vacuum/dust/clean the bathroom/do some laundry/make lunches/potty train your son/coach girls’ softball … ”
At breakfast, Mark said: “So, I was thinking about all the time at home, and maybe I’ll get a boat to fish up Indian Arm.”
He rushed on: “I promise I’ll take the kids.”
I silently thanked the universe and said: “That sounds fantastic.”
Victoria O’Dea lives in North Vancouver.