Monday, November 21, 2011

His Way

Yesterday John and Jack set off for California, without me. This is the first time since Jack was born nearly two years ago that John has spent more than a day with Jack without me, and the first time either of us has flown without the other for backup. I have to be honest, I didn't think it was going to go well. And if I'm being really honest, I kind of hoped it wouldn't.

Here's why: When you spend all day every day with your kid, you learn a few things. You know exactly how many snacks to pack, when to fill up the wipe container, whether or not it's cold enough for a hat, what time you need to leave a playdate to get home in time for a nap. When you're a stay-at-home parent, nothing can be left to chance, because you're the one who will face the repercussions if you screw up. Dealing with a toddler on a regular basis is like trying to predict the mood swings of a manic-depressive: small things like whether or not you have enough juice on hand can mean the difference between an enjoyable outing or a complete public meltdown.

On Saturday night, Jack was having trouble falling asleep. I was getting panicky, thinking, "If he doesn't go to sleep, he's going to be extra cranky tomorrow." John (as usual) told me to calm down, that Jack would go to sleep eventually. And for the first time I thought to myself, "You know what? I don't care if he doesn't go to sleep, because I'm not the one who has to sit on a plane with him for six hours tomorrow. Go ahead Jackie, live it up! This one's on dad!"

It's not that I'm rooting against John. I obviously don't want him to have a miserable time without me. But every now and then, I wouldn't mind hearing, "Wow honey, you really know what you're doing.  I didn't understand it until I experienced it myself."

Either John is a very lucky man, or I'm an idiot who spends way too much time worrying about everything (I have a feeling it may be a little of both). Everything went fine yesterday. Yes, the plane took off an hour late and Jack's nap was interrupted by the woman next to him, but from what I hear, there were no major meltdowns, no tantrums, no angry looks from nearby passengers. In fact, people commented on how well behaved Jack was. I can't help but wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that John was on his own. If I'd been there, I have a feeling expectations would have been different. Everyone thinks it's just adorable when Dad screws up. Society can be a little rougher on Mom.

And let's not forget that I filled up John's backpack with toys and snacks, that I purchased a special neck pillow for Jack, that I made sure he had on comfy clothing and an extra pacifier on hand. I packed Jack's suitcase. I counted out how many diapers Jack would need for the week. I remembered the car seat bag, the children's Tylenol, the crib sheet.

Jack on the plane with his "wolf pup."
If I hadn't done those things? Who knows? I like to think it makes a difference. I have to believe it. Being a mommy is my job right now, and I want to know I'm doing it well. If earning that acknowledgment means John has to suffer for a few days, well, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

But if I know John, everything will be smooth sailing for him this week. He has his mom and two aunts around to help, a dog and a lively uncle for entertainment, a park around the corner and the beach two blocks away. Jack won't care that John sings "Hush Little Baby" completely wrong:

"And if that diamond ring done break, Papa's gonna grill you a tuna steak.
And if that tuna steak's too rare, Papa's gonna buy you a dancing bear.
And if that dancing bear's too mean, Papa's gonna buy you...something that rhymes with mean."

I should probably save myself the frustration and concede that John is just a naturally great dad. But I'm secretly praying that something goes ever-so-slightly wrong this week. Because smugness is a drink best served cold, and I like mine blended. With salt.


Jenny S. Morris said...

You are the reason he did so well. The pillow is awesome, and you packed all the right things. ;0) But, you should also sit, back and relax. Enjoy some Mara time. It doesn't happen very often.

Shauna said...

That picture of Jack sleeping on the plane with his wolf pillow, are you kidding me? so cute!! You're the best mom, Mara :)