What I Learned When Blake Was Away

Blake has been away for two weeks on business. It's the first time he's ever been away for more than a couple of nights, and before he left I was worried that it would be impossible and miserable to manage by myself.

Blake's coming home tonight, and his absence has taught me a few things:

Blake doesn't do much around the house. I've suspected this for a long time, but now I'm sure. I didn't perceive any change in the amount of housework or childcare I do from when he was here to when he wasn't. Obviously this sucks and has to change. I get that he has a job and earns all the money, but I work hard too and I think everyone should help out at home, I don't want my children growing up thinking that housework is women's work, and I can't do any kind of freelance work or self-improvement if I'm spending all my time doing other people's scut work.

Sorry, that turned out to be kind of a rant, didn't it?

Anyway, that led me quite smoothly to realization number two: I don't need him. Obviously I love him, and of course we need his healthy income. What I mean is I don't need him to keep the house and family running: I can manage by myself. This is tremendously empowering. I was honestly worried that somehow everything would fall apart without Blake here. That I would fall apart without him. (Yes, apparently being married has turned me into a jelly.)

This leads, somewhat less directly, to the next realization: I still want him around. We've been married for ten years, and we're attached to each other through this house, through the children, and through habit. Sometimes it seems like all those things are doing the work of keeping us together, and the spark and affection which brought us together in the first place has become irrelevant.

I'm trying to write about this without making it sound like I've been plotting a divorce. I swear I haven't, I love being married to Blake and we're always going to be awesome together. But for a while there it looked like we were together because I didn't have any choice. Now that I know I have a choice, however hypothetical, it makes it much more satisfying to be together. It means we're here because we want to be—because we like each other—not because it's the only option.

Here's another thing I learned: I don't do housework either. I never thought I was doing housework for Blake's benefit, but the house has gotten slightly more disheveled than usual in the last two weeks. It's not so much that I'm cleaning for Blake—I don't think he could care less. It's more that having another adult around adds a level of accountability that keeps me honest. If I can get away with it, I don't clean. Good thing I had company today: at least the main floor and the bathroom are clean.

I noticed is that I'm a lot happier to do the housework I do do when I don't have someone to resent for not doing it instead. I think once we've worked out some kind of respectable chore schedule I'll be much happier to do my jobs, secure in the knowledge that I'm not doing all the jobs.

Last one: it's nice to be the only decision-maker. Not so nice that I'd want to do it all the time, but there is something about not having to discuss everything: meals, plans, jobs, whose turn it is in the shower, all that chatter and negotiation. It's not something that bothers me normally, but it's nice when it's not there, like the silence when the power goes out.

Tonight the silence ends and we get our man back. I wasn't happy to see him go, but I'll be very happy to have him back, with a little wisdom under my belt.