Husband is leaving tomorrow for his annual boy’s weekend at the beach - Helloween. For the next five days (I thought weekends were two days long?) he’ll let his hair down – what’s left of it – with a group of longtime friends at a house with no heat or A/C. He says it’s perfect for this group of guys. For the past six weeks, this weekend has been his constant topic of conversation. It’s his de-stressor – time to drink cheap beer, play football, inflict bodily harm by paintball, not shave, commune with his fellow man and blow off steam. In more recent outings, they’ve become sort of domestic and actually cook – deep-fried turkey and chili. Our household is not lacking testosterone – I have two sons, a male golden retriever, male cockatiel, and three male African frogs – but the adult male camaraderie and freedom from family responsibilities provides him with a vitamin-like boost.
Once upon a time I dreaded his weekend plus away. My children were young, and with one less parent to supervise them on the weekend, mayhem would always ensue. Single parenting brings out my latent attention deficit disorder as two children, pets, and household compete for my undivided focus. One year my youngest decided to take a bath in my stand-up shower by blocking the drain. He sat happily in the bottom playing with boats and legos in one inch of water. I ran downstairs to grab his towel out of the dryer and noticed that the ceiling fan in the family room had suddenly become an upside down sprinkler – spraying water over the entire room as it trickled down the arm of the fan. I dove for the switch so as not to electrocute us all, and ran upstairs to investigate. The shower was overflowing – tsunami style – onto the floor above the family room as youngest continued to splash and enjoy himself.
Somehow, events that happen while husband is away never happen while he is home. In late July, husband went to visit his best friend in Indiana. During his four day leave of absence, the golden retriever (child #3) decided to do laps in the new pool in the backyard. The fur from the hairy beast clogged the filter as I tried to vacuum the bumper crop of hickory nuts squirrels were lobbing into the water. Upon his return, Husband’s pool expertise solved the mystery of why it took three hours of minimal suction to clean the nuts off the bottom of the pool.
Water seems to be a constant theme to husband’s weekends away – whether it is both children having an unintended water gun fight in 50 degree weather or leaking roof from torrential rains. Experience has improved my outlook on Helloween. I know that Husband will return recharged (hung-over). Most small crises are survivable, and the boys and I can do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do with dad home – like have a sleepover on the sleeper sofa in front of the fire place. The boys get undiluted mom time, and I look forward to the adventures we have together.
I also look forward to my own me-time. That’s the deal. Husband gets his weekend and I get mine. So in a couple of weeks I’m taking off for a writing conference in Massachusetts –deep immersion into words, character, plot, and all things bookish. In the past, I’ve done beach weekends with the girls, a polymer clay retreat with my mom, bead shows and a solo writing conference to see favorite author, Sue Monk Kidd. These weekends are sanity-savers, a time to pursue who I am besides mom, spouse and physician (not necessarily in that order), so I understand Husband’s enthusiasm for his Helloween crew. So while my crock-pot is my domestic secret weapon, personal retreats – solo or with friends are my trick and treat for self preservation.