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?
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.
- Whenever she wants, I would give her a night off.
- 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.