Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eleven Dinners

Of the 31 nights of March, there are 11 for which Justin, Ella, and I will be together for dinner. Four of those dinners have already been allotted to family, friends and church (it's Lent; there are Wednesday night supper & services).

That means seven just-our-family dinners in one month.

(There are two possible bonus dinners--days when Justin's shift is officially over at a time that makes it possible for him to be home in time for dinner, but I have learned to view those as gifts and not givens, that way I am less disappointed when I end up tucking Ella into bed before her daddy gets home from work.)

Today was one of those special just-our-family days.

So you'd think I would just be basking in the joy of our togetherness.

And I am. When Ella and I were walking to the car after our quick stop at Target, I was narrating the plans for the rest of our day. "And Daddy will be home when we get there, and we'll have lunch, and you'll take a nap, and... Is Daddy off today? Wait, Daddy is off today! I think. Yeah. We'll hang out with Daddy!" I was relieved at the prospect of not having to scrounge up a dinner for 1.5 on my own, thrilled at not having to figure out how to keep her entertained for the afternoon alone.

It was amazing. I have been wanting to get a pedicure, and he reminded me of it during her nap, but I didn't want to leave the house. I read news articles and a new blog that I found, instead.

We decided to get pizza for dinner because we just wanted to relax and spend time with Ella and also get other things done--like taxes and laundry and dishes.

But here's the crazy thing: I got grouchy.

I was mad because I was still the one changing diapers and waiting while she went pee-pee in the potty. I was hurt because she wouldn't let me help her put her pants back on, but she let him do it for her. I was cross because he showed her how to put her pants on while standing up and balancing by clutching his arm. (She was having a hard enough time just getting her feet into the pant-legs while sitting down! She needed to learn to do this by herself!) I was frustrated later because again she wouldn't let me help her put her pants back on, but she ran to him (while he was working on his computer), stood behind his chair (so he couldn't see her wobbling) and tried to put her pants on while standing on the tile floor. I was grumpy because she got hungry at around 5:30 (which has been happening lately, so I've just been feeding her a bit earlier than our usual 6 o'clock) and we were waiting for the pizza so that we could eat as a family. I was annoyed because she was running around the couch and getting hyper instead of winding down by reading books with me after dinner and before bed. I was disappointed because she wasn't as enthusiastic and focused as she usually is about helping me sort and fold clean laundry. I was irritated because I felt like the recess monitor blowing her whistle for the kids to go back to class (or, you know, to go pee-pee on the potty and then put her pajamas on).

All those silly grouchy feelings kept invading the general glowiness I felt about the day of togetherness.

I let myself lose sight of the fact that we came home from Target to a clean kitchen and a running dishwasher, laundry put away, and tax papers being organized. I forgot that he changed her diaper and helped her with the potty while I ran around getting ready in the morning. I forgot that he clipped some wayward flowers in the backyard because I asked him to do it while he was pulling old lemons off the tree (though while he was doing it, I was thrilled and Ella was fascinated). I didn't appreciate all the work he did, despite this being his one real day off. (Yesterday was what we ER-families call a fake day off--a day when the last shift ends so late at night that you have to spend at least half the day sleeping to be able to function.)

I was just discombobulated because he was here.

My military-wife-mom friends tell me of a similar experience when their husbands return from extended periods of time away from home. It's so awesome to have them back, but it throws off The Routine. We get stuff going, and it's not perfect and sometimes it's not even good, but it's going. Then, just when some momentum is built up and we feel like maybe we really can do this life we have, they come back and we have to relearn the system.

Don't get me wrong. We love our husbands. We want them with us. We'd (probably) like having them around all the time.

We're just not used to it.

So, now that I've wasted one of our seven dinners of the month being petulant, I'm looking to the next time on the calendar that we'll all be together. I hope I don't squander it.

No comments: