It was one of those days.
The hubby walked in from work and found me in the recliner, nursing the baby. The four-year-old was perched in front of the television, his eyes glued to the smiling faces on the screen singing, "It's a wonderful day, to go out and play, hey--maybe you can come along!" The two-year-old was lost somewhere in the house.
And there was no dinner in sight.
The husband, dear, sweet husband, took one look at the toy-strewn living room and innocently asked, "What did you do today?"
I bit my tongue. Oh yes, I clamped down on my tongue and was happy that my arms were wrapped around the nursing baby to keep me from using American Sign Language in angry tones.
The hubby started picking up toys and putting them in the bin organizer. "You really need to get the kids to start picking up after themselves," he said.
You see, it wasn't always this way. When child number one came along, the bin organizer had the toys neatly organized according to toy type and function. When child number three arrived, it was all I could do to clear a path from the living room to the kitchen.
So the husband, silly him, thought that we'd (I?) be able to keep a tidy, organized house with the usual three-course dinner on the table.
Somehow, we underestimated the amount of stress that comes with managing three kids, two years apart. Kids that liked to scream, whine and toss a tantrum on the floor now and then. And one of the kids, who, at the age of three, decided to test his throwing ability with a newly-found rock brought in from outside. He managed to throw it from the back entry in the kitchen, clear across the living room and through the front window. The rock carved a neat hole in the first pane of the window and settled to the floor.
Prior to that day, I had been building up stress and was mad at the hubby. Where was the romantic guy who would give me back-rubs? Where was the guy who said, "Honey, why don't you go relax in a hot bath?" And where was the guy who appreciated my cooking?
Speaking of cooking, the hubby then asked what was for dinner. Ah, but he said it with a bit of an attitude. Or, perhaps in my stress-induced, lack-of-appreciation state, I misunderstood his intentions.
So I walked out.
That's right, I found myself going on strike. I picked up a book that I had been planning to read for a while, got in the car and drove to a local restaurant. I discovered the incredible bliss of being waited on while enjoying uninterrupted reading.
I arrived home to a very crabby husband who did not appreciate the abandonment. I put the kids to bed and settled in bed myself. He stayed up to watch TV. Both of us were too mad to talk.
The next day, we still hadn't resolved our issues. So I called a close friend, also a mom of three and desperate to get out, and she joined me for dinner that night. The kids were fed but there was no dinner waiting for the hubby. He walked in--and I walked out before he knew what was happening.
I enjoyed another dinner in a state of uninterrupted bliss.
So when I arrived home, the dishes were piled in the sink and the toys still strewn around. The hubby was juggling a screaming baby and the other two were wrestling around on the floor. The two-year old looked as if she desperately needed a diaper change.
"We have to talk," growled the hubby.
It took one more day of striking and lots of talking before we both reached an understanding. The hubby learned what it was like to juggle my end of the parenting deal and he developed some empathy as a result.
I look back at the three-day strike with some fondness-- after all, it isn't every day that I get to have dinner out three days in a row.