WWMD. You guessed it. My first piece with the Mrs. and I share how I surfaced my inner mom to bring order to chaos that awaits.
Many months prior, Ericka notified me that she would be out of town for a business trip. She gave me context - and although I heard all the details, I only listened for the days,
“Friday through Sunday. Maybe Monday?!”
“Is that Friday evening, or …???!”
“6:00 AM Flight. OK got it.”
A subtle and unbothered response was an absolute necessity. It meant I would I have to take a PTO (one of the hardest things I ever have to do - right up there with watching my wife deliver child); but more importantly, convincing the one person I depend on most that her absence would not be an overly daunting one.
Leading up to the weekend, I saw luggage, handbags, and accessory kits line the hallways and entrance of our bedroom. I avoided becoming overwhelmed. It was inevitable my wife was going out of town, and she was in full prep mode.
Her minions (the teen girls) assisted with the production. It was a factory as they moved around with a sense of urgency. I chuckle and say to myself, “They never do… Whatevs”.
The night before departure, I make one request. It’d be the only thing I ask since finding out when I would be walking into the belly of the beast. Her gesture suggested the audacity. “Can you please put out the clothes you want [the little ones] to wear?” There was no way I was entering that war-torn room and handpicking their wardrobe (that’s a future post).
Her alarm doesn’t go off on time, and we wake up an hour late. She freaks out. I curate all the kids into one bedroom. The luggage is loaded and the first stop is the airport. Business mom is dropped off and assured her the rest of the trip will go well.
Next I race home. Before I pull into our driveway, I activate single-parent mode. This mode had been dormant for nearly a decade (future post); however It was game day and I knew that everything I held off planning was surely going to consume me unless it was countered with the proper reaction.
For example, how do I circumvent Jenna’s comfort in breastfeeding - this wasn’t discussed. Make things sound worse, I was uncertain we had any of the foods and snacks I like to administer. What do children even these days eat in the mid day?! What if I don’t prepare the eggs and grits to their expectation.?! What if the chocolate milk doesn't have the right mixture of chocolate syrup?!
No time to jump out the window yet. Teens wake up in a half-hour.
Jay needed a morning bath which couldn’t be avoided. So his morning prepping was done with haste and without hiccups. His bus arrived and he was off. One teen down.
The next two teens needed to be tactical. Although they’re completely self sufficient, they can move like snails. Not today satan! The little monsters rose out their dwellings as well - so each teen was assigned a younger sister to account for. Not too mention Jaylah needed to be at school for her class officer meetings - which started within 5 minutes of Jay’s bus departure.
The teens grabbed their respective monster, gave them a light jacket and shoes, and threw them in to the family van. Off to the high school - second teen down. Off to the middle school - last teen (Lilly) down.
Target was next on the priority list. Having no idea what items we had at home, I just knew that I didn’t want to come back out!
Never knew that an 8:00 AM Target visit could feel so serene. It felt organic. I felt… like a parent that knew exactly what they were doing. I was in no rush. I saw other parents and there was a casual understanding that you don’t make eye contact with one another. Walking amongst them was all the acknowledgement needed. Plus why would you want to make eye contact with anyone if yourself or the kids have cruds in their eyes? Or while the kiddos still have pajamas on? Or my favorite, wearing workout or yoga attire as an excuse to hide any odors, cover bad hair, or to generally throw anything on?
At some point I needed to pull myself back out of the abyss knowing that I came to Target for a few things - but i now had a full cart. And the proverbial ask by Jisele wanting LOL Surprise so she can talk to the guys (another future post). That was an unintended costly visit.
Eventually we made it home. Eventually we got settled. Eventually we got dressed. Eventually we fed. We napped. We partied. We irritated. We messed. Eventually the teens made it home. And we all after-school snacked.
Near the close of the day, my mother-in-law insisted I take her the children to stay the night. And although reluctant and full of pride (check back on this future post), I led another trip to the grocery store so that I don’t drop the kids off empty-handed.
The conclusion of that Friday - I didn’t go home. I found an empty bed at the in-laws and slept away. I was exhausted.
By Monday morning, I mastered my version of what WWMD. Teens were at school and we were heading to the airport to recover our package. The younger torment was asleep, while the other couldn’t contain her excitement seeing planes up close on her way to picking up her mother as well.
I contained my excitement. Deep down I was stoked to have her back home. But I wasn’t ready to show it.
It’s always a healthy reminder why our family dynamics are set up the way they are. At the moment it's not in my cards to be SAHP, and I’m not sure I would be best fit for my family. Ericka does a remarkable job. Her uncanny ability to be emotionally available for our kids while creating amazing relationships in her entrepreneurial ecosystem is incomparable.
It was fascinating to experience a few things through her lens - and I can’t wait to do it again. But I have no more PTOs left.