The Lockout

by doodaddy on May 17, 2007

Just before Boo’s bedtime last night, I went out to get my hair cut. Despite the bitter cold of a San Francisco spring, I felt almost gleeful to get out of the house on my little personal errand. I chatted with the haircut lady, leafed through Cosmo, and sipped my tea contentedly.

In your wisdom, oh enlightened readers, I’m sure you’re already waiting for the shoe to drop. At the time, however, I was blissfully unaware that footwear was involved in any way, to say nothing of hovering just high enough over my head to leave a lump when it fell.

I’d forgotten my keys.

Boo and WM would be in the bedroom by now, getting drowsy. We’re on a second-floor walkup: there are no windows to quietly tap on, just a terrifyingly loud doorbell that I sure as hell wasn’t going to press during pre-sleep. Did I mention that it was cold like only our bay fog can be cold? And that I was hungry? And that the pressure inside my bladder was rapidly reaching an alarming level? Oh, then, what to do?

My neighborhood bistro

Not a heckuva lot. I called the ringerless home phone to leave a message and headed over to the neighborhood bistro. After all, it had all I would need for a delightful evening: a bowl of hearty French onion soup, a glass of Syrah, (oh, yeah, a bathroom), and my trusty notepad on which to jot. How I love to jot!

Within minutes I had gone from miserable and cold to warm and content. I felt independent — when had I last sat at a restaurant table at all, let alone by myself with a notepad? I felt adult. I felt free.

And, me being me, I soon felt guilty, too.

Not that I’d had much choice, but what right did I have to sit and enjoy an evening alone? Have I become one of those at-home parents who hands over the baby and checks out when his dear wife gets home? She works hard all day — when is her time off?

When does my wife get a night off? The answer to that is twofold.

  1. Whenever she wants, I would give her a night off.
  2. She would never want one because she misses the daytime with the baby so much.

Sigh. I really do have to ruin every nice moment, don’t I? Well, luckily, I’ve got the perfect tools for thinking this out:

  • Wine on a nearly-empty stomach, that makes me a little goofy and loose; followed by
  • Espresso on a filling stomach, that makes me a little sharp; and
  • The aforementioned notepad.

Here’s what I decided: my wife’s “nights off” are at 5 a.m. when I get up with the baby for an hour. They’re at noon when Boo is fussy and can’t be consoled. They’re anytime when thrice-daily baking soda baths and hourly diaper changes are prescribed for a yeast infection. My wife’s “time off” is never being responsible for the laundry or the bulk of the housework.

Does it sound like an even trade? I clean the bathroom, but I get a night out by myself? My wife works, so she gets her clothes hung for her?

Too much “accounting” in a relationship — my time versus your time — isn’t healthy. Maybe I just need someone to tell me that what I did today, what I do every day, is enough, and that an occasional night out is completely justified.

And doesn’t even require that I accidentally “forget” my keys.

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in Challenges,stay-at-home dad,stay-at-home guilt ·

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie May 17, 2007 at 7:34 am

It is completely justified, but I totally understand what you’re getting at. Coming to the realisation that both parents are exactly that, both parents, 24/7, and that it’s okay for one or the other, and sometimes both together to get a little time off, out of the house, away from parenting responsibilities for however short a time. You need to do it, and I firmly believe everyone is better all round when you do it. Otherwise the score keeping does tend to happen, and it festers.

I am only recently getting to this point mind you! I’m getting better at it all the time. I’m just about to drop my toddler off at a friends house for a while so I can get some shopping done in peace!

Maybe you need to forget your keys more often?

Reply

Ann Marie May 17, 2007 at 8:34 am

Oh honey!!! You do deserve a night out.. everyone does!!!

I say forget them more often!!!

Sounds like the Bistro is an awesome place to just hang out.

Reply

LifeAsIKnowIt May 17, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Good grief, OF COURSE you need/deserve a night out. The moment guilt seeps back into your head, take another sip of wine. That usually does the trick for me 😉

Hope you enjoyed your evening!

Reply

doodaddy May 17, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Thanks, everyone! Funny how everyone thinks I should forget my keys more often — I was just thinking that myself! Now I just have to figure out how often is often enough, and how often is too often. I hope those are compatible goals!

Reply

doodaddy May 18, 2007 at 2:56 pm

You know, the more I think about it, though, the more this seems hard to execute in practice:

Me: Hey, honey! I’m going out to sit at a café for a couple of hours without you and the baby!
Her: Why, sure, I can see why you’d be tired of us! Have a nice time ignoring your responsibilities!

I think the key-forgetting scheme might be the best option!

Reply

Annie May 19, 2007 at 4:48 am

The key (no pun intended) is not to think about it anymore :) I am the Queen of over analyzing, believe me – but just try it and see how it goes – if it doesn’t go well, then yes key related amnesia may be your only option 😉

Reply

doodaddy May 21, 2007 at 12:25 am

Thanks! I’m working up the courage to do it again!

Reply

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