"it's Not At All Easy, But It Sure Is A Lot of Fun."
"I'm going to be giving away one of our children today. I hope you don't mind," he said to me over the phone, very nonchalantly, something my husband usually is not. "I just want two of them and right now I would like to give away the almost-middle one."
I ask why, intrigued while I sit in my hospital bed for the third day in a row, hooked up to continuous baby monitoring, our third son's heartbeat, a familiar chorus in the background.
I was admitted three days prior after some pretty intense contractions at home which resulted in my throwing up of not only a staple in my diet, peanut butter sandwiches, but also a morning cinnamon bun. Two foods that will no longer be a part of my diet ever, ever again.
"We were ahead of schedule, you know. You'd be so proud of us. Everyone had been fed and dressed and we had time to spare before I had to load the boys into the truck. Carter even had his school bag packed and at the ready," he continued.
I laughed. I really was proud of them. Mostly, I was really proud of my husband who stepped up to the challenge of quickly becoming a work-at-home Dad while I was away. I've always been proud of him as a Dad. Most days I feel like I hit the Husband-Daddy lottery in that regard and of course, I never give him enough credit.
We're very different parents, he and I, something that obviously never made itself known until we had kids. Some days I have to wonder how we'll ever co-parent these boys, especially when he's refusing to give them "sugar milk" [chocolate almond milk] for breakfast, sending them both into hysterics. Hysterics all before the 8am hour. I wince just thinking about it.
It's usually in those moments that I kindly remind him that parenting is a lot about choosing which bears to fight. Clearly, I do not fight the chocolate milk bears.
"I quickly looked outside the front door to gauge how bad the rain was and how quickly we would have to bolt out to the car. It was then that I was shocked to see that I had left my back window down in my car. I thought, 'wait a minute, I've never even put that window dow...' And then I noticed that all of the windows were down. And maybe even the sunroof..."
I knew right where this story was headed.
It was a torrential downpour of epic proportions. One that had now filled the cup holders of my husband's barely-three-month-old car. The glorious new car smell was quickly being replaced with wet leather smell and would likely become a damp musty smell in the weeks to come.
I cringed as he continued, "I swear, he only had my keys for 5 seconds. 5 seconds! And I was standing right there in kitchen with him. That's all it took for Maclane to hold that one button down to open all of the windows. I should have known."
I laughed because I knew. I sighed because I felt horrible for him. I laughed because I knew how mischievous that Maclane could be and how it never took longer than a few seconds for him to get into trouble. I sighed because I felt horrible that my poor husband had a veritable swimming pool in his front seat.
Despite that tiny setback, they did manage to make it to school drop-off on time. Extra points for that and that was only Day One.
Day Two was remarkably better. They made the usual rounds at all of the local parks. Had a picnic, played games and almost forgot about my absence. Apparently, I'm easy to miss. My husband must've been feeling like he could take on the world. After all, keeping two little boys, specifically our two little boys fed, entertained, out of the emergency room and alive for an entire day is no easy feat. I know this.
Day Three, however, the day of my discharge, proved to be another one of those days that would earn my husband yet another parenting badge. The following exchange took place over text message around 10 o' clock in the morning:
Me: It looks like they're discharging me within the hour. Doctors are on different pages and since no progress is being made, I'd rather just be home than have to stay here for continuous monitoring.
Husband: Okay! We're just finishing a late breakfast. We'll leave right after.
Husband: On our way!
Me: Great. Can't wait to see you.
Husband: Umm... the dog got out.
Me: Like how "out?"
I break into a cold sweat. I try to imagine how the dog got out. Did he make a run for it as my husband was trying to herd the boys out the front door and to the car? Did that sneaky Maclane let him out on accident? Or did my husband forget to check that the back gate was locked before letting him out in the yard to do his business?
You see, I'm the mom. I can predict these things happening before they actually do. That's why after the first time the dog ran away on me, it never, ever happened again.
Twenty minutes goes by without an update. Finally, a "got him" pings through on my phone. Insert giant sight of relief.
It wasn't until they arrived at the hospital to pick me up that I learned what really happened. As I had imagined, the back gate was ajar just enough for Sheepie to squeeze through and make a run for it. This also meant that it was at least five minutes before anyone realized he was missing. It wasn't until my husband called for him to come back inside that Sheepie's walkabout became known.
I asked my husband when panic set in. Laughing uncomfortably, he admitted it wasn't until his third loop through the neighborhood that he started wondering just how he'd break the news to me, his nearly 10 months pregnant, ferociously contracting wife, that he had lost our dog.
Thankfully around that time and no doubt by the grace of God, Sheepie was spotted in the garage of a house in a cul-de-sac a couple of blocks away. As my husband threw the car into park and prepared himself to jump out and tackle him, Sheepie merely sidled up to the back of the truck as if to say, "Thank God you found me Dad. I'm too old for this shit."
As I popped open the trunk of my truck to load my hospital bag in, I was met with a chorus of "Mom! We missed you! You're back!" and it wasn't until the door was fully raised that I noticed the wily stowaway who came along for the ride. The look on Sheepie's face was priceless. I'm fairly certain he was just as excited as the boys at the prospect of my return home.
Later that night, after the boys had been bathed and put to bed and Sheepie was allowed to sit on the couch with us (I can't help but think of why he could have possibly wanted to run away, just a mere four days before we welcome another baby), my husband turned to me and spoke words about this stay-at-home parenting gig that have never been truer.
"It's not all easy, but it sure is a lot of fun."
I smiled. He was right and I couldn't have said it better myself. It's not at all easy. Ever. But each day we make sure to have fun and usually, more fun than frustrations which I consider a win-win.
But even then it's nice when someone else acknowledges that.
Even if it did require a waterlogged car and canine walkabout.