The day before we left for Disney, my husband was given his pink slip. Okay, it wasn't actually a pink slip, but it was definitely a "Don't let the door hit you, where the good lord split ya!" situation. We were leaving for the happiest place on earth with a giant weight on our shoulders. Our kids didn't know anything about it, but I think it's fair to say that our Disney trip had a shadow hanging over it which might have accounted for the rather large bar tab. J had a generous severance package to provide for us, but I was stressed. Home projects were tabled. Renovations were scrapped. Furniture purchases were rethought. And really, we were fine. We really were. The only thing was, my husband was suddenly home a lot. Like all the time. Seriously, all the time.
I can't speak for his mental state, but in the beginning I was more annoyed by his constant presence than being grateful for it. I can admit that here. In cyberspace. On the internet for untold millions of readers (read: actually about 6 devoted fans). I was annoyed constantly. I had expected that he'd pick up the slack that I've been dragging for five years home with our kids. Five years of emptying dishwashers, and putting away laundry and the endless tedium of raising and caring for small children. I saw his presence as a lifeline for me. He was a rope that I could cling to, maybe remember to shower daily and exercise more. Problem was, he saw it as a vacation for himself...only himself. You can see how this was problematic for us...
We both learned to communicate with each other better, to express our expectations for the day and our plans. We tag teamed our kids, traded jobs and food shopping trips. We each had our alone time and managed to have a spectacular summer together. I learned to relax. I can't believe that I had to learn to do that, but it's true. I'm always the doer, making plans and schedules. J is not built like that. Having him around all the time, made me slow down, made the kids slow down and let us just enjoy each other's company. We spent whole days just playing in the dirt, getting our hands dirty and collecting caterpillars. We went on nature walks and found frogs and birds. Or we became fairies with fairy wings and found sticks for wands and turned each other into more frogs by shouting magical spells. Every day was long, but sharing it with J made it so much easier.
And the girls! Oh the girls love their father! Seeing them with him was joyful. Bean was always his little girl, but after this summer, HT became infatuated with dear old dad too. I always joked that he's the fun one. And he is. He's more physical, throwing them up into the air and catching them. They ride on his shoulders, his back and his shins (painful to watch FYI). J is more likely to make kid-friendly food like tacos, pizza, and macaroni whereas I torture them with curries, cauliflower cakes and bluefish. Whereas I'm militant about bedtime, J is the one that suggests watching Star Wars and making popcorn at 8PM to our five-year-old. Having him around more reminded me to be the fun one too. I needed that reminder. When you are always wrangling the kids, sometimes you can miss the best part of the circus.
J being at home this summer was a gift. We both knew it at the time, and we really enjoyed every minute of it. We squeezed every bit of fun out of summer. We went to Maine three times. We went on countless day trips and we just relaxed and watched our beautiful girls grow more amazing each day. It was gift; a very special, slightly stressful but truly worthwhile gift that we will all remember for years to come.