All three of our toddlers are currently going through a no-one-but-Mommy phase. Though I do perfectly fine with them on my own, the second Caroline enters the room, I magically turn into chopped liver. With mold on it. This is way more than a mild preference for Mommy’s soft touch over Daddy’s two-day stubble. It’s a primal feeling deep within their souls—one that usually manifests itself in Daddy rejection and Mommy chasing, the onset of which is marked by screaming, flailing, even spasmodic rolling as if I’d just doused them with a cauldron of scalding water.
Honestly? I’m starting to develop a complex. During such tirades, I’m frozen with insecurity. Seeing the three of them fight for position as they scratch and tug on Caroline with six needy hands makes me want to intervene and pick one of them up. But I know such an effort would be futile, for if I dare approach, the screaming, scratching, and tugging would become even worse. Scalding water, remember? So I remain frozen, a living, breathing second fiddle; Robin to Caroline’s Batman–the man of the house reduced to a mere boy wonder.
Boy, wonder what I should do?
“Get over here!” Caroline wants to scream like a mind reader, and often does. Like me, she knows it would make matters worse, yet her desperation is sometimes powerful enough to trick her into thinking that maybe this time will be different. But it won’t be, as upon my approach, the babies will wail louder than seems possible, causing aircraft engines to run for their earplugs, and me to retreat back to my frozen insecurity. The wails will then relent (a little), but the non-stop pawing is just beginning, and poor Caroline will be unable to find even a moment’s respite for at least an hour. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Sam, Jack, and Kirby are like fussy paparazzi chasing their favorite rock star longing to be held by the celebrity of her soft, safe love. I’ve officially named this phenomenon Mommapalooza, and truth be told, I’m a little fed up with it. Where’s the love for Daddy? I mean seriously, I’m money on the grill not to mention the fact that I build one hell of a fire. And where, exactly, do at least two of these three little monsters think they’d be without my potent and relentless brand of semen? Hmm? It’s time I got a little attention around here my-damn-self.
After some brainstorming, I finally figured out how. If I wanted to be appreciated like my wife, then I had to act like my wife.
I could drive with a quarter of my normal ability, making other drivers wish my SUV was made of nerf as I barrel down the road while I simultaneously check my lipstick, chat on my cell, and hand Jack his blankie.
I’ll also make preposterously delicious meals, then lament that they’re no good.
With little or no effort, I’ll emerge from the bathroom looking smoking-hot, before complaining about my weight.
I’ll be the one able to decode ANYTHING our triplets utter, successfully translating nonsensical words like bobbie into real words like pacifier, all the while remembering to feign ignorance when it comes to understanding even the simplest things my spouse says.
I’ll leave the grilling and fire-building to her. She’ll also take out the trash, change the light bulbs, and stuff like that. After all, for this plan to work, not only do I need to start acting like her—she has to start acting like me.
Oh shit. Wait. Does that mean she’ll leave crumpled-up paper towels all over the place? Will she walk aimlessly throughout the house on a never-ending quest for her car keys? She better not be constantly watching football. After all, for me to be like her, there’s bound to be some bullshit CSI I’ll need to fall asleep to. How can I do that if she’s locked into Monday Night Football? She’s not even rooting for either team. She’s on the under.
What if she becomes neurotic? Surely she won’t think of sixty different ways to ask me how the smoked turkey turned out, will she? She won’t demand that I rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, right?
What if she starts asking me to categorize everything in terms of enjoyment? “Honey, was that not as fun as you thought it would be, as much fun as you thought it would be, or more fun than you thought it would be?” Oh NO! You don’t think she’ll start losing hair (rather ungracefully) on her pate, do you?
I suppose it wouldn’t matter–I’d love her anyway. But if she starts obsessing on whether to use “which” or “that” in any given sentence, I just may have to call this damn thing off. After all, I can barely stand it when I pull that kind of shit. Think how frustrated I’d be witnessing someone else doing it!
Caroline marched into our room in the middle of my brainstorming session as if she had something important to say. “Honey,” she began, “I’ve had it up to my ears in babies. I’m leaving town.”
Holy shit! That’s terrible. Where could she be going?
“Holy cow! That’s terrific. Where will you be going?”
“To the mountains with my Bible study group. I’ll be gone for one night. Think you can handle it?”
Puh-lease. Caroline may be the headliner, but when it comes to understudies, I’m as capable as it gets. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how great I did the last time she left town.
This afternoon, I went upstairs and woke the babies from their nap at four. We played for a while before heading downstairs where they sat on the potty and I waited for Alli to get home from school. My four children and I went through the same evening routine we always do, just not as fluidly. I fought through the inevitable disappointment that came when the trips realized that Mommy wasn’t home. I tried not to be upset when their tempers flared. I tried to not be heartbroken when our baby girl gave me a forlorn look while repeatedly asking “Mommy, bye bye?” in a disbelieving and barely-audible voice. Together, the five of us muscled through the best we could, each of my children all too aware that the star of the show was not on stage with us.
It’s now half past nine, and suddenly it’s me who’s just now realized that Mommy’s not home. It’s me who’s disappointed, and, yes, even a bit forlorn. I hate it when she’s away. It’s so different without her—just a house, not the home she magically makes it.
No wonder the babies carry on and on about her. She is a rock star. And unlike me, they’re smart enough to realize it each and every single moment, not just the ones she’s not around.
At least I’m still money on the grill.