Working evenings has lots of advantages. For starters, I don't have to deal with traffic. When I'm going to work everyone else is going home and when I'm on my way home everyone else is sleeping. It also means I get to enjoy the nice sunny days of summer. I get to spend a lot of time with my girls. We get to go to the park, go for walks, and do all sorts of fun activities. In doing so, we don't have to pay for childcare and the kids think I'm fun. From time to time I have to spend half an hour trying to find a doll with pink pajamas (any guesses what I just finished doing?) but that's a small price to pay. Especially when weighed against the number one advantage. Five nights a week, I don't have to try and put the kids to bed.
At least 71 percent of the time I do not have to struggle to get the kids to sleep. Granted I've still got the other 29 percent to think about but that can go either way. One easy night and half my week is great. I like those odds. If both nights go bad then no big deal because it's just two nights. On top of that, I'm rarely flying solo so I can usually call in backup if I need it. "Parent down, parent down. I'm taking heavy fire, send backup." There have been rare occasions, I think plural may be applicable, I've been on my own at bedtime. I must say, it's very easy for things to get out of hand quickly. There's the fighting and crying and "can I just stay up a little later?" that can go along with getting the older one in her bed. So that battle is won and she's now in her bed. That still leaves the little one who feels now that she's doesn't have her sister around she's ready for quality mommy or daddy time. By which I mean running around the bed, twisting and turning to the point that picking her up is like trying to grab a greased snake, and finally testing out about a thousand positions before settling on one. Then just as that one settles down and starts down the road to dreamland, the big one starts yelling from her room that she needs something. "I'm not being loud and I'm not waking Cameron up but I need more milk!" It's a shame they don't understand how lucky they are to not thrown or drugged on a nightly basis.
"Mom, my milk tastes funny."
"It's fine, just drink it."
So that's just an average night. Then there's the nights things really get out of hand. One of them throws up for example. Vomit everywhere, a crying youngster, no clean sheets, and then the other one wakes up of course. So my wife is left scrambling to find more pajamas for pukeface, clean up her mess, try to calm down both crying little freaks of nature, and basically start bedtime from scratch three hours after it began. That's about the point my workplace turns into some sort of magical playground in her head. The idea of me off in the magical kingdom of No Kidland certainly doesn't help things. I've gotten many call on my cell that sounded like they were coming from some sort of war zone. A background full of crying and yelling making it hard to hear as she's saying "I'm not sure we can hold out much longer. What's the ETA on backup? I'm pinned down and outgunned, send in air support now!" Ok, that may not be an exact quote but it's close.
The analogy I've been given to try and understand what bedtime is like is to first select the two points in the house furthest apart. One in the basement and one on the top floor. Now set them both on fire and then try to put the fires out with a bucket of water. By the time it's over, you're tired, wet, messy, and the house looks like a friggin' disaster. It makes the point but I think she just uses the fire analogy because I haven't had the best luck in that area.
We had just moved into our house and I was cooking some chicken fingers. As we all know you need to take them out halfway through and flip them over so they cook evenly. I did that and went back to watching TV with my wife. Soon after the smoke alarm went off, not a big concern as it's quite sensitive and goes off almost every time the oven is on. I went to check and was greeted by an oven full of flames. "Get the (bleep) up here now." She bolted from the basement and we put out the fire with our fire extinguisher. The entire house was full of smoke though so we went outside. After some discussion we decided it might be a good idea to call the fire department just to be sure no fire had spread through a vent or anything. She expressed to them that it wasn't an emergency and expected an inspector or two in an SUV or something. The sirens in the distance told us it was more than two guys coming. Two firetrucks full of firemen show up and go every which way in the house. Of course, that causes the neighbours, who I hadn't even met yet, to crowd around and see what's going on. I turn to say something to my wife and she's not there. I look around and she's trying to blend in to the crowd, and act like she doesn't know what's going on. Traitor. So now I'm the jackass in the neighbourhood who can't cook without burning the place down. I don't know why none of the neighbours ever come over for dinner. By the way, the cause of the fire was a pair of scissor with a plastic handle. They'd gotten stuck to the bottom of the tray when I flipped the chicken and then melted and burned in the oven. The firemen were cool about it though. One guy looked at the chicken fingers all covered in fire extinguisher chemicals and asked "you gonna eat those?"
So at the very least, being married to me has prepared my wife for dealing with potential disasters. A skill that comes in handy every night as she wages her constant war against childhood insomnia. And after getting text messages and phone calls detailing the pitfalls and setbacks, work doesn't seem quite so bad. "I don't care if we're done for the night, I'm not leaving. My kids are still awake."
9 years ago