Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wife Rule #76: This is Reality

It seems that I periodically need an appointment with Reality.

But since Reality is already busy checking-up with so many other people, my kids are all too happy to fill in.

On Saturday, after a brief, late-afternoon nap, I awoke at about 4:30 P.M., feeling refreshed and energized and ready.

Ready to clean. Ready to cook. Ready to watch the kids while my wife went out to a dinner and meeting for the evening. And if I'm ready for that, I'm ready for anything.

My wife had expressed earlier in the week that she felt a little overwhelmed and could really use more help around the house than what I was giving her. So tonight, things would fall into place. Tonight, I would deliver. Tonight, I would be The Crazy, Cleaning, Ever-Charming, Honey-Do Husband!

In my supreme state of readiness, this is what I was going to accomplish between the time she left at 5:00 and when she arrived back home around eight:

* Cook dinner for the kids
* Eat dinner with the kids
* Clean up dinner
* Do the dishes and clean the kitchen
* Clean the showers, tubs, sinks, toilets, and floors of all three bathrooms
* Watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with the kids and then serve up piping hot, delectable, home-grown peach and berry cobbler (raspberries picked fresh tonight, of course), and watch as yellow and purple juice stains dribble down their satisfied, smiling chins.
* Bathe the kids
* Put the kids to bed, which involves reading scriptures, saying prayers, brushing teeth, telling stories, and navigating the maze of stalling tactics they employ.
* Oh, and in case the sun decides to set an hour or two later than usual tonight (and I could feel that it just might), I'll also mow the lawn.

So you, Mr. or Mrs. Grounded-In-Reality-Cynical-Person, can clearly see that had I been a super-cleaning-motivated bachelor (an oxymoron) without any parental distractions, in three hours I might have been able to accomplish everything on my list, sans the tasks involving the kids (which is most of them).

But tonight, I could feel it; I was ready. In my inexplicably-naive mind, I truly believed I would accomplish most, if not all, of the items on my list. The kids would sort of...take care of themselves for a few hours, while Captain Productivity conquered the world of domestic duties, saving the household one sparkling-clean toilet at a time.

I forgot about Charity.

Five-month-old Charity started crying about ten minutes after my wife left, and refused to stop crying for anyone except me (yes, I even tried pawning her off on my five-year-old son). So I stopped in the middle of my very first task--sponging down the first bathroom counter--and picked her up. Cleaning and babies weren't going to mix, so I decided to proceed with dinner and get back to sponging later. As long as I could keep her hands away from the knife and the stove, at least cleaning chemicals wouldn't poison her. So I held her, but soon discovered that that one-handed dinner preparations often don't go so well.

So I put her in the Snugli, wearing her proudly on my chest the same way I do when we are out on the town for date night. It turns out that the Snugli kind of gets in the way in our crowded kitchen. It also turns out that wearing a Snugli for several hours of intense bending over, lifting, and other kitchen maneuvering really takes a toll on an old man's back.

It also turns out that I'm an old man. I should've seen that one coming.

But I persevered and managed to get dinner made, eaten, and mostly cleaned up before my wife got back home. Nothing else on my list even got thought of again. The poor, lonely sponge, like my motivation and ego, dried out and shriveled on the counter where I had left it hours earlier.

When my wife walked through the door, the first thing I did was take Charity out of the Snugli and ceremoniously dump her into my wife's able arms. Then I went to the bathroom (more than an hour overdue, and I'm not talking about the sponge) and finally collapsed on the couch beside her.

She looked refreshed. I was exhausted. No wonder she wants a little contribution from me when I get home from work every evening.

I won't soon forget who really deserves a break at the end of the day: I spend all day with computers where everything is virtual; she spends all day with Reality.

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