I recently went out of town for a conference and left my husband to manage our four children. I decided to call daily to check on his parenting progress and give him advice on how to handle his current situation. The first time I called, he had no pending situations and needed no advice. His voice was calm and I heard no arguing in the background. He was fine. He was so fine, in fact, he was lounging outdoors reading a magazine.
Because of his “irresponsible” lounging, I would no doubt return home to the consequences of his languid parenting, his lack of meeting proper bedtime routines, and managing well-balanced meals.
“Where are the kids?” I questioned with curiosity during our phone conversation. “Oh, the big kids are swimming at my parent’s house and the little kids went with your mom to the movies. They each called to find out if I needed anything and within an hour the house was emptied. Pretty cool, huh?” my husband responded.
This was not cool in the least bit, I thought to myself. My husband should have been walking around the house in his pajama bottoms still, picking breakfast shrapnel from his t-shirt and stacking laundry into piles of lights and darks. He should have been droopy-eyed from repetitive games of “Name the television episode I am going to recite for you word for word.” In addition, he should have been juggling dog-feeding, dish-washing and lawn-mowing, while skipping meals and ignoring his appearance. Not only was he not near the point of tears or begging me to return home because he was having such a difficult time without my expertise, he was outdoors, childless, relaxing with a magazine and lounging! I rolled my eyes in repulsion.
Men are brilliant. They find solutions, they rest, and they allow people to help them. They don’t bog themselves down with guilt by thinking about what they should be doing and just do what they feel like doing.
Men make plans with their friends when the women are away and eat at establishments where the food choices suit their palate. They don’t worry about disgruntled looks from neighboring diners when the children are loud and annoying. Men don’t stress like women do. They can live with imperfection for a weekend and along with the children, emerge unscathed. The control freak in me has a lot to learn from men.
The next time my husband is away on a trip, I have decided that I am going to approach his absence differently. I am going to solicit help from family and friends, stress less about bedtime routines, and leave empty fast food boxes on the counter until the morning. When my husband calls to see how things are going, I’ll make sure that I’m reading a magazine … and eating a bowl of ice cream. However, the children will be showered and smell clean. Some things I just have to control.
Linda lives in Southern California with her husband and their four children where she enjoys blogging, jogging, speaking and leading the Children’s Ministry at her church. To read more stories like this one, check out Linda’s book Spilt Milk Devotions for Moms or her blog Spilt Milk-Unconventional Anecdotes from an Imperfect Mom.