SOMEWHERE NORTH OF ATLANTA—As an at-home dad, the notion of a business trip seems like a luxury of the employed. You dress like a grownup and go through airport security without finding crayons or crackers in your pocket. You eat food that someone else prepared, and you sleep in a strange bed for a few days. And if you’re lucky enough, your shirts get done while you’re out.
I just realized that I’m on my first business trip, minus the frequent flier miles.
This week, we drove to North Georgia, where my wife is nursemaiding her mom after knee replacement surgery. We usually come for Christmas or Thanksgiving, when clouds roll in and completely obscure the gorgeous mountain views. The fog gets so bad that I keep thinking Jack Nicholson is going to pop out, like in “The Shining.”
As the surgery date approached, my Lovely Bride and I decided the kiddos and I would join her down here for a week when it’s not freezing and grey. One day, we hit the multiple lakes and swimming pools and paddle boats and canoes and rock slide that we only dream of during winter visits. Another day I took the children swimming at their cousins’ pool 40 minutes away. Then yesterday we drove 60 miles to the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. (Mommy, meanwhile, has helped with rehab exercises, cooked and cleaned, and still logged a half-day of work.)
And then it hit me: I’ve got it pretty good right now. I’m pretty much doing the same job (wrangling the children) that I do in Baltimore, just in a different place.
My wife has planned and fixed supper every night, which she is loving, and so am I. She’s trying out a new cookbook and getting her bake on. She tried a new corn recipe. A new veggie side dish. Peach cobbler! She even did laundry while we were at the aquarium. I came back and found it folded and neatly stacked, waiting for me on the bed!
The only time I’ve been in the kitchen – except to do dishes – was to fix breakfast the first day when I charged out of bed and took over the kitchen. I’m used to being the sole chef as my Lovely Bride dresses for work and sprints out the door by 7:45, so it’s hard to turn of my Kitchen Commander function.
(Full disclosure: I baked my Lovely Bride a birthday cake – but try doing that in a strange kitchen without asking your mother-in-law (while she’s in rehab machine on the sofa, flexing and extending her knee) at least six times where to find the cake pans, cooling racks, cocoa powder and pecans. Oy.)
I’m sure there comes a time for business travelers when the charm wears off, and you just want to slog home. We’ll launch the 700-mile road trip home soon, and it will be good to be back in my own bed and kitchen. (For more road trip stories, click here. Or here.) But as soon as we’re back, I know I’ll miss having the cooking and laundry done for me.
Most of all, I’ll miss having my Lovely Bride around all the time.