The husband has flown halfway across the country and I'm sitting here with my laptop in this silent house.
I tell people he's away, add a little grimace - just me and all these kids - and I mean it but I also don't. I secretly love having the house to myself for these few days. My introverted self relishes the post-bedtime quiet, the freedom, the do-as-I-please wide-open possibilities. Just for a few days, mind you - by Sunday I'll be glad to have him back - but in the meantime, these evenings are all mine, baby.
What's more, you would think that having a second perfectly capable adult around the house would decrease my workload, and yet, unexpectedly, the housework feels lighter. There aren't any fancy meals happening around here when he's away. I had the most gloriously delicious egg and cheese sandwich for dinner last night, and it was made all the better by the complete lack of post-dinner cleanup. No scrubbing rice out of pots or sauce out of baking pans, no dishpan hands, no spaghetti stuck to the floor. Just toss the plates in the dishwasher, rinse and dry the cast iron pan, and boom. Done.
And the laundry! That endless mountain of laundry, basket full to the brim only minutes after I finish the last load - except right now. Who knew one person could add so much laundry?
Then there's my no-nonsense bedtime routine, because I adore my kids but by the time bedtime rolls around I'm about thisclose to completely losing my calm. That wonderful man of mine, he's taken over the whole bedtime thing while I hang out with the (not-so-)wee babe, but oh my does he drag it out some nights.
Me? I'm all about getting down to business. Clean. Snack. Toilet. Pajamas. Teeth. Into bed. Then it's fifteen minutes of our bedtime read-aloud (currently The Lord of the Rings, which means that Frodo and company get approximately five feet further along whatever path they are presently on during those fifteen minutes, because oh my goodness Tolkien, get to the point already). Then the lights are out and we murmur prayers into the darkness before little brother falls asleep. Big brother still loves those bedtime chats as the younger one breathes deeply beside him, and that about saps the last of my energy for the day. Lovely times, yes, but you better believe I'm gritting my teeth through some of them, just waiting for that moment of exhale as I slip out of the room at last.
But then my own bedtime rolls around...and passes. Midnight, 1:00, 2:00, I really should get to bed. But it's so quiet and there's no one else to suggest it, so I just keep sitting here. At last I slip under the covers but I've spent all evening thinking and there's no one here to interrupt those thoughts, no one to stop their continuous flow and so they go on (and on and on) as 3:00 comes and goes.
Less work during the day. Less sleep at night. There's the trade-off.
Only three more sleepless nights to go.