I’ve been away for a few days now, living out my own “Lucky One” adventure while my dear husband has been manning the fort — quite literally, I suppose — since I left on Friday afternoon, artfully juggling five kids, their weekend activities and his responsibilities at work.  Here’s what I’ve learned as I’ve kept in touch from afar:  sometimes, Daddy knows best. And oftentimes, Mommy makes things more complicated than they need to be.  Here are three great examples:
  1. Let them wear what they want.  The weather in the Northeast has hit unseasonable, record highs in the days I’ve been gone.  And from the photos I’ve seen, the kids have been thrilled to wear shorts and flip-flops.  And pajamas without tops. Knowing myself as I do, I suspect I would have started a battle about the flip-flops, making the rational argument that it’s hard to run/play soccer/get from Point A to Point B when you’re a three-year old in flip flops.  And, I would have urged them to wear shirts with their pajamas, for fear they’d catch a chill in the middle of the night. As it turns out, in both cases, I would have been wrong, causing yet another unnecessary fuss.  As it turns out, they wore their flip-flops and lived to tell about it and slept as snug as bugs in a rug, with or without shirts.  Score one for Dad.
  2. Leave the luggage at home.  Here’s what I usually take a for a typical Saturday involving soccer, baseball and birthday parties:  5 juice boxes, 5 water bottles, about 25 snacks, a change of clothes in case a three-year old triplet piddles in his pants, sunblock, wipes, tissues, Purell and a few BandAids, just in case.  Here’s what the Dad packed for his weekend adventures with our tykes: nothing.  Nothing!  Ok, maybe a water bottle for the kid playing soccer but that’s pretty much it.  And you know what? They all survived! Score two for Dad. 
  3. Roll with it.  Before the breakfast is cleared away, I start to fret about what we’ll have for lunch and dinner. Before my coffee is consumed, my mind has planned the minutes of our day — every day.  The Dad does not work this way.  This can sometimes infuriate this Mom.  But, with some distance between us, I see once again the magic of his ways, the delight of a few unscripted days.  There was impromptu pizza for lunch and a late nap at 4:00.  There was no dinner plan but somehow it all came together.  The kids were happy, clean and fed.  Perhaps not on “my” schedule or in “my” way but, at the end of the day, well, they had a great day.  Several of them in fact. Score three for Dad!

I’ve learned once again that “my” way isn’t necessarily the only way or at times even the “right” way.  This Dad really knows what he’s doing.  So much so that this Mom just might start planning her next trip!

I am leaving my husband and five children (aged seven and under!) behind for five days; five days and nights that will combine work and pleasure as I combine a business trip to LA with a visit to my sister and her family in San Francisco.  I am nervous about leaving my family behind.  And that fact that I’m leaving on Friday the 13th isn’t helping matters!

As I drove to the airport, I thought about the weekend ahead – the weekend at home, not the weekend that awaited me in San Francisco.  I thought about the responsibilities I was leaving behind — dinner times, bath times, soccer practice, baseball practice, birthday parties — all the weekend activities you’d expect from a busy family with five kids, topped off by several showings of our house, which is on the market.
Our weekends provide little down-time and are virtually devoid of R&R; if anything, I relish the return to work on Monday mornings because it gives me a chance to sit down!  So, as I embark on the flight that will take me 3,000 miles away from the mayhem of a typical weekend at home, I can’t help but think about the dear man I am leaving behind and wonder how he will do it.  It is the question I am constantly asked “How do you do it?! “ And my answer often relies heavily on “my other half” — the supportive, funny, level-headed fella who is now home alone with five feisty tykes.
He’s been fretting my pending departure for weeks, telling neighbors, family, friends and pretty much anyone who will listen that I’m leaving him — that I’m leaving him “all alone” with our five kids for five full days.  Honestly, his stress was seriously stressing me out.  So, I did what any Type A, aspirational SuperMom suffering from a bad case of guilt would do, I offered up a slew of solutions.  “I’ll create a daily meal plan.  I’ll organize rides for the birthday parties and car pools for soccer practice.  I’ll tell the realtor we can’t show the house while I’m away.  I’ll pre-pack the backpacks and lunches for Monday and Tuesday. “ And so on.  Initially, he was all for my organizational gusto.  “Yep, let’s not show the house while you’re away, it will be a mess,” he admitted.  “And a meal plan sounds great,” he concurred. 
And then, in the 48 hours leading up to my departure, something incredible happened.  My stressed out other half turned into an uber-confident SuperDad.  I, for one, always knew he had it in him but even so, was shocked when he said something to effect of “Screw the meal plan! I can feed our kids.  And if they’re hungry, they can just have a glass of milk!”  He went on to say, “And, let’s show the house.  I may not make the beds like you, but I can make a bed. I’ll even plant some pansies to increase the ‘curb appeal’.”  What?  Pansies?  Really?  Wow!
As I write this, I am hovering at 30,000 feet, barreling toward the West Coast and the adventures that await.  It was hard to say good-bye to the sweet, smiling faces that slobbered me with wet, snotty kisses; for the record, they came from my children, not my husband.  His kiss was sweeter, and seemed to linger longer than the usual perfunctory peck.  As hard as it was for me to leave, I know it will be much harder for him over the next few days.  And, I am reminded once again that I am one lucky gal — which seems especially fitting given that the work portion of my trip will include a walk on the red carpet for the premiere of the movie  The Lucky One. I am very lucky indeed. 
As for the kids, well, if all they get is milk for the next few days, they may not be quite so lucky.  But, I have a feeling that Dad is going to pull this off with flying colors when he does, I will be the first in line to ask how he did it.

With Father’s Day fresh on my mind, I can’t help but reflect upon how I really lucked out in the Dad lottery – both in the Dad I’m fortunate to have and the Dad that my husband has become. Let’s start out with my Dad. Simply put, he’s a good guy. He’s the kind of guy who is fair but certainly not a pushover; he can be tough but certainly not mean. He’s the kind of guy you really want to do well by. He’s the kind of guy who is as likely to spend a Sunday puttering in his own garden as he is to be tending to the flowers at church… or my grandparents… or anywhere else where the flowers — or the people –need some tending to.

He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t give up and who demands the same type of stick-to-it-ness in those around him. Perfect example, the poor guy recently tore his rotator cuff – and I’m ashamed to admit that it happened while watching my kids. In any case, it’s his right shoulder and he’s right-handed. It really stinks. Especially since my Dad is the kind of guy who loves to play tennis and tennis season is literally just getting into full swing. But, rather than miss out on the fun, the competition and the camaraderie, rather than sit on the sidelines for a season, what does my Dad decide to do? He decides to learn to play lefty! Lefty! After sixty-plus years as a righty, rather than be kept down, my Dad decides to start swinging on the left. That’s the kind of guy my Dad is.

 He’s also the only guy who I’ll really listen to. During the course of my extremely high-risk and unanticipated triplet pregnancy, I was told by the world’s best doctors, best friends and best husband that I needed to chill out. That I had to slow down, take it easy, and put the lives of these babies before my own ambition to be the hard-charging career gal and SuperMom I wanted to be. Even after a pre-term labor scare at 26 weeks, I found it hard to sit still. I was itching to get back to work, back to play, back to life as I knew it. I was frustrated at the notion of missing out, of being benched. Until my Dad just looked at me, subtly shook his head and said something like “It’s not forever Ker. It’s just a few months. A few months that will make a huge difference for these babies. And, for you.” That’s it. He hadn’t said anything more or less than the experts and pals who’d been urging me to take a timeout. He hadn’t raised his voice or copped an attitude. He was just being my Dad. And I knew he was right. And I didn’t want to disappoint him. So, I started working from home, doing the grocery shopping online and napping in the afternoon – which led to delivering three big, bouncing baby boys at 36 weeks.

Which brings me to my husband. He’s the guy who bears the brunt of it all – an overtired, stressed out wife and five kids five and under. He’s the guy who adeptly juggled his job, household chores and our two toddlers while I was preggo with the triplets. The guy who used to be afraid of changing diapers and can now do it with his eyes closed… even though he’ll still opt out every chance he gets! He’s the guy who cooks up a tasty dinner each and every night when I would toss in the towel and serve “Dinner Eggs” again. He’s the guy who coaches T-Ball, picks up at preschool and insists we go to church on Sunday. He’s the guy who reminds me not to sweat the small stuff – it’s ok if the onesie is on backwards; it’s ok if the dishes wait ‘til later; it’s ok if the laundry doesn’t get put away right now. He’s the guy who reminds me that a day in the park or at the pool trumps a clean house or that Sunday afternoons are better for napping than fretting. He’s the fun guy – the one that riles the kids up before bedtime and will read them a story no matter how late it is. At the same time though, he is the guy who lays down the law – no dessert unless you finish your dinner and no talking back! In a lot ways, he’s a lot like my Dad. Which means that our kids just won the Dad lottery too.

(Originally posted at http://www.parentsask.com/)