When he walked inside, he couldn't believe it, the house was almost unrecognizable. Dishes were piled on the sink and the dog was licking spilt sticky juice from the floor. The ironing basket was overflowing, there was a huge pile of dirty clothes leant up against the washing machine. He realized something else was wrong. He couldn't smell his dinner cooking?
"Where's your mother?" he asked his children. "She's upstairs in bed" they replied somewhat bewildered. As he wandered up the stairs he collected the debris along the way, empty drink containers, notes from school about library books and field trips, the remains of discarded lunch boxes. He found his wife, sitting in bed with her feet up reading a book. "What's going on?" he said.
"Well", she replied "you know how you asked me what I do all day? Today I didn't do it".
It is exactly three weeks since I broke my foot. Three weeks of sponge baths, upside down hair washing and wide length pants. Three weeks of hopping on one foot to the bathroom, sliding up and down the stairs on my bum and tucking as many items in to my bra before picking up my crutches. Thank you God for providing me with the cleavage to support a bottle of bubbles and champagne flute.
Perhaps more intriguing than my multi purpose cleavage though, is my multi purpose husband.
In the many domestic forms of our 12 years of marriage, I think we have pretty well covered all of the different options available. Our marriage, in its current form, involves G leaving for the office at 7 and arriving (if he wants to remain married) home before 7 that evening. My day involves co-ordinating 4 children in various states of mood, dress and activity, each day is varied depending on the state of the child. A simple trip to swimming lessons can be fun, it can involve swinging hands and kisses at the door or on a bad day a complete meltdown in the change rooms, followed by a poo in the pool. You're never sure what you're going to get.
For the past three weeks we've had to adjust our roles. Well G has adjusted his, I just gave mine up. I was forced in to retirement. My new role, initially sounded fabulous. Sit with your ankle elevated, no driving, no weight baring. This is every mothers dream. Right? An enforced break from the routine.
On day one it was cute, as G stood in his suit and tie, blackberry between his teeth, he began wrestling with the Second Little Travelers pony tail, she gave instructions "it's not right, it needs to be higher, I need boof at the front, there's no boof". I looked up from laptop and smiled to myself, I know how to do boof, I do really good boof.
When G came home from the first school run he told me it was great, he loved the conversations in the car, they'd all been to the cafeteria after school and had Subway and chocolate cookies and brownies, I decide not to point out that we would require a second mortgage if this was to continue. I was happy that everyone was happy, but yes, I was secretly waiting for the wheels to fall off.
After two lots of swimming lessons, an orthodontist visit, a lost child, and a science project that involved the transportation of fish, I noticed the tone was starting to change. There was tension. When G had endured four hours at the school fair I thought I could visibly see his hair receding before my eyes. Then came the text from the indoor play centre, "put wine in fridge, right now please" when I made a joke he said "you don't understand, I'm in a dark room with flashing lights, there is a grown man singing La Bamba". I didn't tell him La Bamba man and I are on a first name basis.
He phones me as he waits at my usual after school hang outs, he shares the events of the day. The lost swimming goggles, the terrifying school play rehearsal, how someone changed their mind on dress up day and a mad scramble was made to get in to "normal clothes," in the car park. He proudly tells me how it was handled, just a few tears, the crisis averted. I congratulate him, it takes all my strength not to tell him that these are weekly events, that soon he won't even mention them.
At dinner there are the usual discussions about forgotten lunch money, field trip notices, birthday party invitations, mismatched sandwich choices and missing PE shorts. I find myself hanging on every word and there's a faint feeling of jealousy. I've had to relinquish control and suddenly G has a much better idea of what's going on in everyones lives. Isn't this what I wanted? Why am I feeling so threatened by this?
It's possible that I'm irrational when I realize how upset I am that I missed the awful Grade One zoo trip, the one where you have to sit on the ridiculously little train with your knees up around your ears. I missed it. I apologize to the Third Little Traveler for not being there for him, I have a tear in my eye, he looks frightened by my desperation.
When dinner is finished and everyone is told to head upstairs for baths and bed, G uses his new phrase, I've heard it every day this week "brush your teeth or you'll have Rhino Butt Breath" everyone finds this hysterically funny. Dad said Butt. Suddenly, tooth brushing is funny. I smile a forced smile.
Yesterday, G and I return to the doctors, we're told there's a possibility the cast may come off by the end of the week, G lets out a huge sigh of relief and I immediately start planning my first bath. We both agree this experience has taught us something really important. Something we knew but we'd somehow lost sight of in the rush. Appreciate what you have, the every day, the stuff that's right in front of you. Even the Grade One zoo trip.