In 24 hours, I will be the sole parent in this house. Saint Aardvark is going away for a week and I will be outnumbered by children.
If you break it down, of course, I am usually outnumbered by children. From 7 am till 6 pm, Monday to Friday, I am the sole parent. The addition of bedtime routines and possibly very early starts to the day (I usually get to sleep in until 6:15 while SA gets up at WhateverTheHellYouCallThis o-clock with one or both children) will hardly bestow on me so much more responsibility than usual.
Just now I was washing some dishes. The dishwasher is fine but sometimes I wash a few by hand, mostly because it warms up my hands. I washed some plates and some cups and I was going to leave the pots by the sink because I like to wash dishes in shifts; a few plates, a few cups, a pot. Take a break. And I guess part of my brain was thinking I would leave it for SA to wash.
Yeah, let’s be honest, that’s what that part of my brain was thinking. Then the other part of my brain spoke up. Said, oh no you don’t. He’s not going to be here for a week. You gonna leave that pot by the sink for a week?
Obviously not because I would need to use the pot before the week is up, right? But still. The job of Saint Aardvark around the house is as subtle, in ways, as mine. You know how you get in a rhythm with someone you live with. You don’t question where the garbage goes; it just does. He doesn’t question where the chips come from; they’re just there.
These are the things he does that I can think of offhand:
– brings up wine from our storage room
– takes the bottles back down
– empties the recycling and the garbage
– keeps the fridge clear of old, mouldy items
– actually dumps these items out and washes the containers, instead of just taking them out of the fridge and leaving them on the counter, which is what I would do, which is why I generally just leave them in the fridge
– grinds coffee every night
– puts my coffee on every morning and pours it for me
– makes bread
– keeps the computers running
– feeds the cat
and that’s before you even get to the children, whose diapers he is intimately involved with and to whom he reads endless stories, often with earplugs in so that he is not shattered by the exuberance of our younger child who LOVES TRAINS SQUEEEE.
So I was standing at the sink, washing pots and I thought, what if one of the children gets sick this week, while he’s away. What if the child is really sick and I have to make a decision, on my own, about what to do. How horrible will that be. How stressful. Just me, in the dark, with this sick child, no second opinions.
Sure, lots of people think about these things before they even decide to have children. Not me.
It is in those small moments, hands in the suds, lump in the throat, paralyzed, that you realize how entwined you are, really, with another person. How many little gaps he fills for you, so that without him you would more closely resemble Swiss cheese than a human being.