I had this past weekend circled on my calendar for weeks. It was going to be “my” weekend. Nothing was going to stop that.
Trish was taking the kids to her hometown of Superior for a long weekend to visit family. I was going to stay home…maybe do a little housework and yard work, but mostly do a lot of nothing. We’ve done this in the past, and let me tell you…it’s been glorious. I rent stupid movies that I know I’d never be able to convince Trish to watch. I watch baseball games from beginning to end without leaving the couch. I eat badly. Would I cook steak with mushrooms and onions on the grill? Yup. Would I get take-out jalape’o cheeseburgers? Heck yeah. Things I love, but I’d never be able to convince my wife to eat, would be consumed this weekend. It was time for a good, old-fashioned “bachelor weekend”, a time when I could relive my college days…spending hours on end with no responsibility and little motivation. I used to love these weekends. I thought this weekend would be no different, but you know what…
…it was miserable.
The first hour or so wasn’t that bad. Trish left with the kids at about 7 p.m., so I went out and ran some errands, bought groceries…things that we would normally be doing together on Friday night. I have to admit, I felt like Superman being able to fly in and out of stores at breakneck speed. It’s funny how much faster you become when you don’t have a one and a three-year-old weighing you down. I didn’t have to stop in the toy section this time. I didn’t have to worry about grabbing and buying one banana for Garrett to munch on while I shopped. I didn’t have to answer question after question on why I was buying eggs, or why the avocados are shaped like they are.
I was on a singular mission–get the items I needed, and get out. Anyone who has shopped with small children before knows that idea is ridiculous. Every trip to the store becomes, to put in mildly, an experience. Instead, that quick trip to the store reminded me of the way things were years ago, when Trish and I first moved to Rhinelander. We’d stop at the store on a Friday night, and buy enough food for the weekend, and still get home in plenty of time to get the canoe in the lake and paddle or fish for a couple hours.
I got back home at around 8 p.m., and I guess that’s when it first hit me. This was normally the time we put Gracie down to sleep, and got Garrett ready for bed…making sure he brushed his teeth. I sat down in the recliner and saw two Berenstein Bears books left out from the night before. Normally by now he’d be sitting on my lap listening to me read to him. Not tonight. The house felt empty. I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonelier than I did at that second.
It’s funny how kids will do that to you. Small children make you dependent on a routine. When that routine gets adjusted, everything tends to get thrown out of whack. Yes, I thought of dozens of things I could have been doing–watching the ball game, cutting the grass, heck, even cleaning the house. But I wasn’t motivated to do any of those things. Instead, I sat in that recliner, staring at that Berenstein Bear book, for at least 10 minutes. I called Trish. Hearing the kids babbling in the background didn’t help.
I did most everything I’d normally do during a typical bachelor weekend–watched ballgames and movies, ate bad, shucked responsibility. But none of it made me happy. Instead, for some reason, I felt guilty. I thought too much…about work, family, life.
Trish and the kids are on their way home right now, as I write this on Monday afternoon. I can’t wait to see them. A few years ago, I would have urged they extend the visit an extra day. This time, Trish could have turned the car around in Minocqua and I would have been happy. Friends that have kids have told me that as my kids grow, my priorities would change. They couldn’t have been more right.