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When Dad Leaves Town

My husband was out of town all week last week. He was fulfilling a life-long dream of getting to attend The Master’s in Augusta, Georgia, and he drove cross-country with my brother, my dad, and my uncle to see it. (He made a pit stop at Talladega Superspeedway, calling me from his cell to find out if I wanted my Ricky Bobby tube top to be in rhinestones or glitter. That has nothing to do with anything, except that it’s been making me laugh all week.)

Anyway, I have held down the fort alone for the last several days, something I (thankfully) don’t have to do too often. Let’s get this out in the open: I am a wimp. I know it, I own it, and there you go. I know there are plenty of women whose husbands travel frequently. I know there are countless single moms who handle details with the kids on their own, 24 hours a day, every single day. I will say, in all seriousness, that my hat is off to these women. That is an amazing feat.

Because holding down my fort alone for a week has nearly done me in.

Of course, this is due in part to a phenomenon I do not understand but have found to be iron-clad in its predictability: when one parent in this family leaves town, at least one child (usually two) will get sick. Not sometimes -- every time. It’s like their otherwise healthy immune systems notice us getting out the suitcase, and they have a little Immune System Conference. They say, “Hey, they’re packing up, so it’s time to shut down entirely and let all the germs in the state of Oklahoma run rampant through this family. It’ll be FUN!”

So it was no surprise, a couple of days ago, when the school nurse called me to come pick up a feverish seven-year-old boy from her office. And then the same nurse called me back two hours later to pick up a feverish ten-year-old from her office. Good times.

I handled it fine. Even with all the sickness, we managed some Dad-free fun. The sick kids took turns sleeping in bed next to me. Because a sore throat is an excellent excuse for ice cream, we kept it flowing freely all week. There was plenty of movie-watching on the couch, under blankets.

Maybe the Great Immune System Conspiracy is by design, forcing us all to slow down a bit during what would be an otherwise stressful week. But as I type this, my husband is somewhere near Memphis, pointed toward home. My youngest son sits next to me as I type, his hot little head on my shoulder. It’s not quite as hot as it was earlier today. I think we’re going to be okay.

But will someone please remind me never to let Hubs out of the city limits again until I have a cabinet full of Tylenol?

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