Anyone close to me knows that I like to analyze, sometimes to a fault, so as I sat at my house last week, the topic of relationships and what keeps them going kept popping into my head. Why? Simple, I had time on my hands and there is a ton of bad TV airing during the day (with some of America’s best relationship doctors, i.e. Jerry Springer) and, truth-be-told, I was pouting because my wife was able to be in one of my favourite cities, Las Vegas, and I was at home thinking about how insane it would be to have 3 kids on my own. Prior to this week of adult solitary confinement, I spent the July 4th week at my family’s home in northern Michigan and even though I prayed, two or three times, for some peace and quiet (you have to understand that we had 14 people in one house plus dogs and the random visitors), I wasn’t fully prepared for the daily task of looking after my “little angels” the following week. Flashing back to my 4th of July prayers about peace and quiet…be careful what you ask for.
On Sunday, July 8th, everyone was gone and the beach house only had my family left…so we cleaned up the house, locked the doors, packed into the mini-van and left the tranquillity of Lake Michigan. Ironically, I wasn’t my normal, pissed off self as I drove down-state, which was due (in part) to the fact that I also took the week of the 9th off (nice to get away for some extended time) and as you’ve been informed, I was on “kid duty” while Deena was at her “conference”. Deena’s trip was apparently a success because she looked like hell when she got home, slept on a couch the entire day of her return and although she commented that the conference was great, it was also really “tiring” (I watched the Hangover while she was gone, so I wasn’t buying her story). I would have typically believed her, but she returned home with no pictures of the conference, but there were bar pictures…and the only proof of this work trip was one really ugly conference bag and binder. My theory…she and her friends picked up these charming teacher bags and binders, printed conference logos on them and played it off as if they were really “working”. Now, I don’t really believe that (it’s just my bitter & jealous side rearing its head…come on, I love Vegas), so back to my point.
During my week with the kids we stayed pretty busy. I had events planned for them each day: we pulled together a lunch at Greenfield Village, facilitated a sleep-over at a friend’s house, hit a birthday party and took care of a couple of travel hockey try-outs. I also made sure that we did something critical to any period of time when Mom isn’t around (we spent money). I let the kids pick flowers for the deck (yes, I turned in my man card before Deena left for Vegas), although I did redeem myself from the sissy’esque flower shopping spree with a solid rebound purchase from Home Depot (a metal, roll-away vintage looking beer cooler), which worked well on Friday night as I sat with my brother and a good friend and pontificated over every topic under the sun (religion, politics, relationships, marriage, etc.) and 30 beers.
Here comes my poignant teaching moment and the inspirational comments that typically close each of my articles. What keeps relationships going and what did I learn during this time with my kids that I can impart on each of you (my loyal readership)? I learned this. I think our divorce rate is, in part, at 60% nationally because people take each other for granted. As a remedy, if you are a couple, you should schedule 1 or 2 trips per year (where one of the spouses heads out for a long weekend or if you can pull it off, a full week), which reminds you of a couple things; 1) how nice it is to have someone in your life, 2) a little bit of jealousy helps you remember that you do need to “work” at showing your spouse how much they mean to you and 3) it is so much easier to manage kids when they don’t have you outnumbered 3:1. In all seriousness, it has always been easy for me to take off and travel (work travel, golf trips, conferences, etc) and I’m sure it was easy for Deena to take off too. I know, we all bark about “ohhhh, I’ll miss you all so much”, but let’s not bullshit each other, sometimes it is nice to get away and I was reminded about how demanding the world can be with only one parent in the mix and I look up to all single parents who live this on a daily basis. I learned that as much as I pick on my wife, I miss having her with us and realize what an instrumental part of our family she plays (I mean someone has to say “no” to the kids every now and then, right)?
To wrap up, don’t take your loved ones for granted. Work each and every day to show them how much they mean to you and forgive them if they wake up with Mike Tyson’s tiger in their possession.