Cut And Run

After a night of trying to keep my daughter from sleeping in her vomit…I woke up at 530am to head to the airport.

Yes, am leaving a sick kid at home with a sick brother and I believe their sick father.

Why do these things always happen when I have a trip or I am crazy busy? I mean, why can’t they happen when I am home with nothing to do?


I’ve only emailed twice, with instructions like “make sure you watch her” (duh) and I have to say considering what I left behind this morning, twice isn’t so bad.

I don’t know why I feel the need to dictate every small detail when I am away. I’ve gone on plenty of business trips and come home to children still intact. Yet there I go again, making sure everyone knows EXACTLY what to do down to the stupidest detail. I mean, does Dad really need me to tell him to check on the 4-year old?

Probably not.

I wonder if this is insulting to fathers. When we Moms micromanage how they parent. Or if they are just used to it and take it as part of the fun.

Because it’s true, I don’t think anyone else does it right. Not like *I* would do it, anyway. And I don’t think anyone else knows the things I know. Does he know she will flail around while puking and you really need to hold her? Does he know she wants the blue Pedilyte? NOT the purple, even though normally she wants purple everything?

Of course I think I know best. And I swear it’s true that I do. Yet time and time again these children are GREAT while I am gone and GREAT when I return. So what the hell is wrong with ME?

I’m crazy. I think that pretty much sums it up.

I feel like I’m taking off when they need me most. But when I am there…they seem to not need me at all. It’s a heartbreaking thing to find our your dispensable. That yes, everyone will in fact survive if you are not around.

They don’t need you.

I’m going to go send another email. They may not need it. But I’m doing it anyway.


  1. Ah, motherhood. You’ve captured its essence to a T (for Tormented). We do know more than anyone about our children, and that knowledge is a blessing and a curse. And you’re not dispensable. I’ve spent my adult life living 3,000 miles away from my mom, but when I’m barfing, she’s the only one I want in the sickroom. We think of our kids as one-of-a-kind, but you have to remember, in times like these, that our kids see us as one-of-a-kind, too.

  2. It’s insulting to fathers in general if you’re saying anything general. Maybe it’s just insulting to your husband though.

    I was thinking about this very thing this afternoon, though, when I overhood a park mom tell another: “He could never handle them alone for a week.”

    And I thought: “Really? What level of competence is it that is being questioned? Would they die? Would he divorce her for doing it? Would she come home to a totally resigned pile of sobbing sloth on the couch while the kids ran circles around him?”

    That kind of conversation, one that looks for sympathy and bonding in common experiences, IS insuilting to fathers in general, because its purpose is to extend beyond her own experience, her own husband, and even if what she says is true of him in particular the assumption that she ought to find someone else with a similar experience is the insult.

    I also thought about directions. I am really good at spatial location. I am excellent with directions and with drawing maps, and even just blind guessing where places are in strange cities based on cues I’m not even aware of. My wife thinks she is not good at directions. But I think it’s only because when she’s with me I’m taking all the load, doing all the thinking and planning about directions. That is, she only has a BAD sense of direction when she’s not actually using it; she’s only incompetent compared to me when I’m doing all that thinking and planning and she’s doing none of it.

    But put her in a strange city on her own, without me ever setting foot there first, and she’s just as good at finding things and going places as I am. Because she doesn’t feel impeded by knowing that I’m already cogitating on things.

    I think it likely that many parenting relationships are like this too. The one partner feels the need to micromanage because of perceived incompetence when all that’s going on is lack of opportunity. Not that one parent doesn’t know the fine details of kids’ schedules better or which colour Pedialyte to get (and by the same token I probably am better at intuitive navigation than my wife), but he or she isn’t so INCAPABLE that the kids are going to turn into monsters.

  3. And the pressure cooker continues to simmer…your husband understands and expects nothing less besides it get you threw not being home…your such a great lady….and wonderful mother..balancing several balls and it often requires micro managing.

    Dorothy from grammology

  4. MommyTime says:

    You ARE right, and you DO know things no one else does, and they are probably a lot of things that are the perfect things for your particular children. But as someone who teaching a night class once a week, and who thus has to relinquish all control over the dinner/bedtime routines weekly, I have more than once been amazed to realize that Dads *also* know things no one else does. For example, he picked them up a bit early on a sunny day, so that they could get a pizza and take it to the playground for dinner, rather than coming straight home. Much as I adore the playground, I never would have thought of that. The kids were over the moon, and bedtime, if 10 minutes late, never went more smoothly.

    My point is: cut yourself some slack for the guilt. While we mothers cannot be replaced, I do think it’s good for kids to come to learn that neither can their fathers.

  5. You’re in good company. It seems like my kids ALWAYS get sick when I have to travel. My husband does some things the way that I would and other things he does differently. But no matter what, everything is always fine when I come home.

    Though it sucks to leave your kids/huband when it seems they need you the most, I think @BackpackingDad and @MommyTime are right. These are probably great learning/confidence-building/bonding experiences for all involved.

    When I was a kid my mom didn’t travel all that much for work but when she did, my dad would take me to St. Louis Cardinals games to see Ozzie Smith doing backflips in the outfield. Talk about rebellion – a second grader going to a Wednesday night game at Busch Stadium?!?!?! He taught me when a sacrifice fly is in order, how to score a game and how to heckle the opposing team. Those times spent with my dad are cherished memories of my youth and they never would have happened if my mom weren’t gone every once-in-a-while.

    There will never be another you, and no one can mom your kids exactly the way you do. But you’re lucky you have such a capable stand-in. Safe travels back to California!

  6. Wait a second – there are times that you are home with nothing to do?

  7. Welcome to my life.

    Has the family recovered from the illness yet?

    When I come home after that experience the laundry, dishes, and mess is piled up. The kids haven’t gone to bed on time or on clean sheets in days, they haven’t had their allergy meds, and generally speaking my home is a wreck.

    Hopefully you do not have a similar situation.

  8. Ron Kotecki says:

    Jack is doing much better. Dad is the sick one now.

    Dont stress. Me and jack are watching spongebob.

  9. While I have the tendency to micro-manage when it comes to my kids, I have realized over the years that many mothers disable fathers with belief and actions that scream out that only mommy can do it “right”. I can honestly only think of a couple of things that ONLY mommy can do and those include childbirth and breastfeeding. We still corner the market on that as of today.

    I admit that my husband doesn’t always do things the way that I would do them and my kids are very fortunate for that. They get to experience different types of love and different types of parenting. They get to go to McDonald’s twice in one weekend (or even once) or skip a bath or wear mismatched clothes to the store or not eat one green food for two days when I go out of town to speak at a conference or visit a friend. There’s freedom in that for them. I think that they think that it’s their little secret and that’s okay with me. Mum’s (errr Dad’s) the word.

    I remember two days after our son was born, I had to go back to the hospital for a serious medical condition. Two days old. My husband took me and the baby to the ER (blech) and the first diaper my husband ever changed was while I was flat on my back in an ER bed and couldn’t get up. He lifted him up to show me and the diaper was backward. It definitely lightened my mood and we have that memory to laugh about from time to time.

    I remember when the same son did not sleep. Ever. And I felt like I was nursing every waking moment of every single day and I remember being so angry at my husband one night that he could just lie there snoring while I cried in the bathroom because I was so so so tired. He didn’t know I was angry. He didn’t know what I needed or wanted from him. He didn’t know because I didn’t bother to fill him in. I guess I thought I married a psychic or something, but when I realized that all I had to do was ask and then when I asked, I had to let go if he didn’t do what I needed one the way I would have done it, HE felt more competent as a father and a parent and I felt some relief at not being the only one who knew JUST what to do. I think it would be great if fathers felt more empowered in their own parenting just like many of us mothers expect to be able to feel.

Speak Your Mind