Two and a half days. Roughly 60 hours. That’s the time remaining until Beth lands at LAX. Seems like an eternity.
The kid has held up remarkably well. All of the things I worried about – not sleeping, not eating, not doing well at daycare – have, so far, not happened. I’m sure it’ll horrify Beth to know that he hasn’t been asking “Mommy? Mommy?”, but to me that is a good thing. Because there ain’t no answer to that question.
I’d had a dry run with Beth travelling before – several weeks ago, she took a four-day trip to San Francisco. But this time, as previously noted, is different. Sobering, scary thought – if something happens to the kid, she can’t just hop on a plane and be back here in an hour and a half.
The reality for many of us is that having to travel and leave your spouse/significant other behind is inevitable. Having done the solo act twice, here’s some tips for you dads out there who may find yourselves in my shoes:
Let your boss know what’s going on. I emailed my boss a couple of days before Beth left to give her the heads-up that I was going to be the only one around to take Lucas to daycare, and pick him up, and deal with any emergencies that may arise. (As an HR guy, I’d recommend both telling your boss face-to-face AND writing an email – CYA, my friends.)
If you have one, let your daycare provider know what’s going on. The teachers at my center have been paying a bit of extra attention to Lucas this week. And they know to call me first if any problems should come up; if you’re typically not the one who drops off your kid, you might not be the “default” number they call.
Plan your meals in advance and do your shopping before Mom leaves. Do a quick survey of your supplies. Do you have enough stuff to get you through your solo outing? And by “stuff”, I mean food, diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, beer, whiskey, Xanax…as for planning out the menu, your mission in life is to make the time as easy and pain-free as possible (hence the Xanax) and not trying to figure out what’s for dinner after you’ve worked your ass off all day and now have to feed, bathe, change, and put your kid to bed is one key ingredient in making that happen.
Go over “The Routine” with your significant other. If you have a partner, have a sit-down before he/she leaves and go through everything that he/she does with the kid if he/she does things that you do not. Example: Beth typically pays the tuition for our daycare center when she drops Lucas off in the morning. I, being me, would forget to do this, and with my luck Lucas would be tossed out into the street to fend for himself, with naught but his wits and his ducky blanket. Thus, Beth made sure I knew to pay the center this week.
Have fun. Look. You can be selfish. The kid’s all yours, so make the best of it. Go out to dinner one night. Go to the zoo. Go to the park and play. Teach him some new words. Buy him a new toy and show him how to use it. You lucky bastard – your kid’s growing up fast, and the time you’ll get to spend with him, just the two of you, is a mere sentence in the story of your lives. Enjoy it.