David's home and we are glad to see him. Facetime on our phones is pretty awesome, but no match for the real deal.
Having him gone for a week made me think about how we make things work at home, and I realized that we do a lot of trading off rather than team work. I mean, trading off is a kind of team work, but it's different to do 100% of the work 50% of the time rather than 50% of the work 100% of the time.
Does that make sense? Not that we really divide up all of our time that way, but hopefully you get what I mean.
What I'm trying to say is that too often I think one of us observes that the other one is "on duty" or engaged with the kids, so the other one feels free to check out--sometimes that means taking care of other chores, and sometimes that means flipping on the TV (him) or scrolling through my Instagram feed (me).
Running things here for a week by myself made me appreciate SO MUCH that someone else takes care of dinner prep and just handles some of the kid interaction/supervision, but I also think we should try to do more of that stuff together instead of treating it like a baton handoff. It's not easy because we'd both like a few minutes to ourselves in the evenings to check out and chill out. I'm an introvert. I like my alone time. But when we take alone time and leave the other person in charge of the kids, we end up spending very little time all together. So I think we can work on more of a balance. (Also if we could get another hour or two in our day, that would be helpful).
Poor David had only been home about an hour and I was already irritated with him because while he was fixing dinner and I was upstairs giving Coco a bath, he let Zuzu have a yogurt even though (1) she'd already had yogurt at lunch (he didn't bother to ask me what she'd eaten today) and (2) the yogurt I purchased was specifically for me to take to work with me on my busy/early morning when I have to drop off both girls and don't typically have time for breakfast (which she knew, having had this discussion with me when I bought it, which is precisely why she asked David for it instead of me). This sort of small but aggravating failure to communicate is a source of friction and the kind of thing that can build over time like a million little paper cuts. As I told him, parenting by yourself is exhausting, but at least you don't have somebody undoing the things you did, or putting away things you wanted out, or nagging you to do things differently. So maybe we need some clearer communication going on.
Sure, that sounds like an easy solution, but frankly it can be hard to get a word in edgewise around Zuzu (we watched Survivor this afternoon and had to put closed captioning on because we literally could not hear the show over her chatter as she played with the Fisher Price barnyard). And talking about stuff--even stupid stuff like yogurt (or maybe especially stupid stuff like yogurt)--is exhausting and usually boring. It's like you need the help, but in the time it would take to explain it to someone else, you could just do it yourself and not have to worry about shouting over two squawking kids, you know?
This suddenly sounds like I'm complaining about my marriage when this post is supposed to be celebrating the fact that David has returned! I'm just saying that living with another human is kind of hard, and, in my experience, it gets more challenging when you have two small humans sucking the energy out of you in a relationship that is mostly symbiotic but occasionally feels parasitic. I think being apart for a week gave us some clarity on what we can do to make life easier and more fun for both of us, and that includes doing more 50/50 stuff together instead of trading off kid/kitchen duties, though we have to do some of that in order to maintain our sanity and keep the household functioning.
And in spite of the little irritations, I'm so happy to have him back to share the laughs and the beaming-with-parental-pride moments that we always have around the girls. Zuzu playing Family tonight was priceless: "Well, we're going to a party later in the week! And there will be dancing at this restaurant! So I'll be the Mommy and Daddy will be the Daddy and you and Coco will be the Sweeties."
It's nice to have some (limited) adult conversation at the dinner table, and to have someone voice their appreciation for things like vacuuming and organizing the backdoor entry way, since babies and toddlers tend to kind of take things for granted when it comes to parental sacrifice. Ingrates!
AND he did all his own laundry at his grandma's house, so he didn't even bring me more work when he came home. Hashtag husband of the year. He's a keeper.
Also: I've been listening to The Black Tapes podcasts, which is a fictional investigation of paranormal activity, and I confess that it's actually scary. And kind of freaking me out. So, selfishly, I'm really glad to have David back home in case there are things that go bump in the night.