My wife is a wonderful, caring person. She is compelled to help people. This compulsion led her to accept a position as Executive Director of a non-profit organization that provides funding for an orphanage in the country of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). Before I knew it, she was boarding a plane for Africa, where she would spend the next three weeks doing whatever an Executive Director does down there.
It’s not the first time she had left the girls and myself on my own. There had been plenty of visits to family and girlfriend weekends that I did not attend with her, so why would I worry about her leaving for Africa? It’s not like I was the kind of husband who sat around not helping. I gladly do my share around the house.
We do, however, have certain areas that we claim as our own. I do most of the cooking because I like it and my burn-dinner rate is much lower than hers. I do the dishes, yard work and I kick in on cleaning. My wife takes care of the event planning and appointment keeping for the girls and myself, bill paying, bathroom sanitization and organizing (mainly because I don’t care about organization). She does laundry and much of the cleaning. Even with our household labor being somewhat assigned, I was not intimidated by taking over the bill paying, the extra cleaning, and keeping track of dates and events. . . any organizing could wait until her return. Basically, keeping things flowing at home should be a piece of cake.
Day one of her absence: Everything went smooth, as expected. No major problems other than I couldn’t find where I put my wallet. Usually my wife has noticed where it was that she last saw it setting and can tell me when asked. I texted her, “When I ask you where you last saw my wallet, what would you consider the top ten most frequent places I leave it?” No response came, possibly due to it being 2 AM in Africa.
Day two of her absence: I’m actually way ahead of schedule on keeping our home life flowing. I buckled down and got nearly three quarters of the giant laundry mound done today. I was very careful to separate by colors and only bleach the whites. . . Just can’t figure out how to get enough laundry to do purple and red laundry loads. Green and brown were easy. There were tons of green grass stains and brown dirt stains. I did cheat and throw in three items of clothing stained a dark mustard yellow because it was close to brown, but the one t-shirt with a red bloody nose stain and two purple Kool Aid stains stand alone. Doesn’t seem like enough to warrant a load even if I combine the purple and red stain loads. Whites, I assume, are all the clothes with no stains . . . just seems odd to me that you would bleach the clothes that have no stains, but who am I to question the laundry master.
Day four of her absence: Ran out of Q-tips today. This was particularly traumatic because the insides of my ears were really itchy like they desperately needed Q-tipping. Had to resort to using my car keys to do a sort of inner-ear-scrape like I had seen my dad and other old people do. I kept thinking, “how will I survive until my wife gets back and buys more Q-tips?” It just didn’t occur to me that I could go buy more Q-tips. I’m not the Q-Tip buyer. They are always just there.
And how does she get the girls to fold and take their laundry up to their rooms without the threat of physical violence? I can’t figure it out for the life of me. I may have to just chance being labeled a horrible parent and continue with the threats of bodily harm (made even more effective by use of a prop; a large stick I found in the yard that I now refer to as the Laundry Enforcer).
A few complications, but still, I got this!
Day seven of her absence: text * “URGENT!!! Where do you keep that sticky cat hair removing roller???” . . . again no reply. I had an interview for a job that paid significantly more than what I was currently making. My one job interview/funeral/wedding shirt had been slept on by Schnitzel, our white Persian, leaving behind the perfect hair silhouette of a sleeping cat, and the stupid cat hair remover roller was nowhere to be found. Normally, I just ask my wife where it is and disappears for a minute and comes back with it.
Had she answered my text, I would have fired back several more question texts in quick succession. My heartburn was raging, and I can’t remember which of our two dozen prescription bottles was for heartburn. They all have such un-pronounceable names – I can’t keep them all straight. I thought it was one of the small pink pills, but I was wrong . . . very wrong. After taking two for good measure, my head got extremely woozy and my lips refused to form understandable words, then all went dark.
Hours later, I woke up on the front lawn with my girls and several neighbor kids standing around taking pictures of me to post on Instagram. I was wearing a sport coat and pajama bottoms accented by a red pair of my wife’s heals. By all accounts, I had passed out there just after finishing a rendition of Sweet Home Alabama in Cookie Monster voice. . . videos posted on Instagram later confirmed these accounts. I was now afraid to play Russian Roulette with any of our other prescriptions. I decide to suffer the heartburn.
Day twelve of her absence: The girls are taking advantage of my ignorance of the rules. They keep asking me if the can do this, go there or buy that. They know I don’t know the answer to most of these questions, so they add a “Mom always lets us”. I probably should have been keeping a list of all the things that she supposedly lets them do, because I have several doubts – like letting them cover their beds with sand from the sandbox to have a beach slumber party . . . complete with lit Tiki torches.
Earlier in the day, as I pulled in the driveway, I happened to notice that post with a metal box on top that I always mow around. I suddenly remembered my wife was always walking out to it for some reason. My curiosity got the best of me so I had to go see what her attraction was to it. I opened the door on the front of the metal box and discovered it was full of mail! So much mail that I had great difficulty extracting it without ripping the outer layers. I think I had just done what is referred to as getting the mail.
Day fifteen of her absence: I think the girls are plotting against me. There is a definite smell of mutiny in the air. I sleep with my bedroom door locked now, and the Laundry Enforcer by my side. The tension can be felt in the air. Dinner time is silent and the both of them keep sneaking glances at each other as if to say, “Now? Kill him now? While he’s stuffing cheesy bacon meatloaf in his mouth?”
Even the dog and cats can sense that I have no control. They’ve started pooping on the kitchen throw rug for no other reason than my wife is not home to make them stop. I yell at them to make them stop, but they just look at me like, “Whatever bro, you are not the boss of me” and then continue pooping.
- How do I make the smoke detector quit chirping?
- What’s the password to the cable TV account so I can pay the bill? – It was shut off two days ago.
- Can I wash one item of clothing alone? or will it break the washing machine? Hannah needs her soccer shirt for a game but it’s the lone bloody nose red stain.
- If a man takes a Midol because he thought it was heartburn medicine, will he grow breasts? . . .
The unanswered texts were piling up. Maybe her phone didn’t work in Africa.
Day eighteen of her absence: “A final text my dearest wife, I hope you haven’t been eaten by a Lion or Wildebeest. I don’t think we will make it til you get home . . . the Lord of the Flies now rules the house. The kitchen rug is gone, thrown away due to numerous poopings upon it. The dryer, gone, went up in flames yesterday. We’ve eaten pizza six days in a row now. . . locked in our rooms. No one trusts anyone else, and the girls are now carrying around their own Laundry Enforcers. If we perish, bury me in a different cemetery than the girls – I don’t want to hear them plotting against me after death – let me rest in peace. If the animals haven’t eaten each other by the time you get home, be careful. I think they’ve gone feral. I love you and I’m sorry for taking you for granted all these years. . .
I am a career tree trimmer and tower climber who loves to write ridiculous stories on my free time. I recently self-published a collection of my work called Life from Outside the Refrigerator. I have also been honored to have my work featured on such sites as Mamalode, Sammiches and Psyche Meds, Parent.com, Sweatpants and Coffee, Her View from Home, and The Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. My goal is to one day make enough money with my writing that I can but a Taco dinner with drinks.