I’m a great dad, and I like to think I’m a pretty good husband, too. But when it comes to playing “mom,” I’ve got nothing on my wife, Allison. I can effectively run a company of 170 employees who prepare and deliver 25,000 lunches a day, but put me in Allison’s shoes, and I’m left battered, bruised, and humbled with the realization that I’m not quite equipped to handle the world she so gracefully orchestrates. This has never been more evident than last night.
Allison called me around 4:30 p.m., and the instant I heard her voice, I knew it had been one of those days.
“Hun, any chance you can be home by 5:30? I need to grab just 30 minutes on the elliptical to restore my sanity.”
It seems as if the only real time that Allison gets to herself any more is when she’s on the elliptical in her “mom cave.” I assured her that I would be home in time to offer her the reprieve.
As I walked through the door, Grace, Brady, and Hayden greeted me with their customary chorus: “Daddy!” I could see the relief and exhaustion on Allison’s face from across the room as she lightly swayed back and forth with Quinn strapped to her chest.
“Thank you,” she said as she handed Quinn over to me. “I just need 30 minutes of peace, and I’ll start dinner after.”
Allison only asked me to hang with the kids, but I’ve got more in me than that. She makes dinner every night under these circumstances, so I can do this, too. Bool kogi, brown rice, broccoli, and snap peas were on the menu, and Trader Joe’s had done most of the work already. I’ve got this, I thought.
Here’s how it went down:
5:36 p.m. –Allison leaves me with the kids, and I decide to make dinner.
5:41 p.m. – After five minutes messing with the straps on the Baby Bjorn, Quinn is finally secured to my chest.
5:50 p.m. – Water is on the stove to boil the broccoli, and a frozen bag of brown rice is in the microwave. The snap peas are queued up, ready for their turn in the microwave. The kids play in the backyard while I fire up the grill. I’m way ahead of it. Super Dad has this in the bag.
5:57 p.m. – The broccoli is in boiling water. Bool kogi on the grill. Things are going smoothly.
5:58 p.m. – “Dad!” Grace hollers from outside. “Brady pooped in his pants!”
5:59 p.m. – I take Brady into the bathroom, and immediately hear Hayden wail in pain from outside. I tell Brady to stand still while I run out to investigate.
6:00 p.m. – With Quinn still on my chest, I carry Hayden inside to treat a skinned knee. I give him a box of Band-Aids and let him choose a design.
6:01 p.m. – I rush back to Brady, who did not adhere to my instructions to “stand still.” Quinn is now getting frustrated and fussing after being jostled around.
6:04 p.m. – I return to the kitchen to find the box of Band-Aids completely empty, with bandages scattered on the floor. Hayden is deliberating between Lightning McQueen and Finn McMissle. He decides on a Lightning McQueen Band-Aid, which he insists on applying himself.
6:05 p.m. – I anxiously glance at the clock. Allison should be wrapping up right now to provide relief. I suddenly remember the bool kogi, only to find it charred on one side. I quickly flip it over.
6:06 p.m. – I hurry back to Hayden, who is in tears with frustration. The Band-Aid folded over onto itself, rendering it useless. Hayden insists on finding the same exact Lightning McQueen design as the first one. I apply the second Band-Aid myself.
6:07 p.m. – Quinn is crying and squirming uncomfortably from all the action. I grab his bouncing seat from the living room and set him in it on the counter.
6:08 p.m. – I remember the broccoli is still boiling. It’s mush by now. Strain it. Allison should be walking in any minute.
6:09 p.m. – I try to remain calm while convincing Grace to set the table. I give her plates and silverware.
6:10 p.m. – It’s time to check the grill. It turns out we’re having blackened bool kogi tonight.
6:11 p.m. – Where is Allison? Her workout was over four minutes ago. I set the microwave to heat the brown rice for three minutes and start slicing the meat.
6:12 p.m. – I hear running water in the bathroom downstairs. She’s taking a shower?! Oh, come on! Can’t a guy get a little help here?
6:13 p.m. – Quinn’s crying in the bouncer, so I move him to the swing in the family room.
6:14 p.m. – I take the rice out of the microwave, and burn my hand from the steam while opening the bag. Brady, now not wearing pants, is tugging on my pant leg and asking me to read to him.
6:15 p.m. – I attempt to wrangle Grace and Hayden from outside and coax them to the dinner table.
6:20 p.m. – The kids are all inside after five minutes of, “Just one more minute, Dad!” I realize I forgot the snap peas. I nuke ‘em.
6:21 p.m. – I see the bouncer on the counter—empty—and freak out for a second. Where is Quinn?! Then I remember that he’s in the swing in the other room.
6:22 p.m. – I again burn my hand while opening a steaming bag, and curse myself for doing this EVERY TIME.
6:23 p.m. – Allison saunters in, glowing and relaxed, with big smile on her face. “Thank you,” she says. “I needed that.” Indeed, she did. How does she do this every single day?
6:24 p.m. – We sit down to blackened bool kogi and broccoli a la mush. Before we eat, we say a prayer and thank God for the gift of our food, for the gift of Trader Joe’s, and most of all, for the gift of Mom.