My husband has of late been snippy with the kids. Borrowing a choice phrase from an online acquaintance, I’ve been asking him to stop taking the “authoritarian douche” tone with them. Perhaps one reason this has been important to me is that I myself have not been on my best, most gentle or intelligent parental behavior. I mean I have really appalled myself with some things I’ve said and done around the kids. It reminds me precisely of the very pinched, stressed, and manic time after Nels was born when I was go go go but unable to cope with even minor setbacks in the course of my day.
It isn’t as if a vacation is the “much needed” break from the children. I believe, vacation or no, the children need me to figure out how to center myself whether with time out, a time in, a counselor, a brisk bike ride, a drink, an abstention from drink, a long hot bath, or a good cry. But this trip has been a visit to one hundred percent relaxation and with relaxation, a re-emergence of my husband and my most human, genuine selves. Left on our own for a few days our manners appear. We sleep more, we agree on plans and there’s no sharpness of tone flying back and forth (OK, maybe a little from me, but that’s because as everyone tells me I’m a Squawky Bird). My husband holds open the door for me; he takes off my shoes for a mid-day nap. This morning he said, “You look beautiful today” with such feeling it was a real show-stopper. I realize how much I like him because he says “Hi” to other campers and introduces himself. He tips nicely in restaurants – despite the fact we have a literal $30 per day allowance (we’ve gone out to eat twice so far). He helps me look for tiny pink beads to finish a hat I’m knitting for Sophie and he genuinely applies himself to the search.
I also realize that if I wanted to keep him happy and married to him for life I would have to do exactly two things: one, provide him with – well, you know – relatively frequently (decency prohibits me to elaborate but you know where I’m going); two, make him breakfast.
See, normally my husband is up in the morning and heading out the door just as I get up. Even then if I myself ate breakfast I might daily favor him with some just as he can expect a hot homecooked dinner each night. As it is I usually feed the kids something easy to clean up and easy to make – say, yogurt with fruit and a spoon of peanut butter. The idea of doing a big egg fry-up or making mountains of pancakes is just so unappealing to me. I don’t like breakfast food myself and have an appalling habit of skipping food altogether until a voracious lunch post-noon.
But my husband – and our daughter – could literally sit up in bed and stick his snout into a huge plate of bacon and eggs. And his deepest, not-so-secret desire is that I would provide him with that each morning. In fact on vacation my husband will roam around the cabin or yurt or tent site and pick up and put things down, hoping I will get inspired and make him a huge breakfast. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen him act like an entitled male, when I think about it. It amuses me and touches me.
So this trip I’ve been prioritizing breakfast and making it for him. Yesterday’s fare was bird’s nests: that is, toasted bread with a hole in the center, crack an egg and cook and flip it. He is nuts for those (traditionally they involve two strips of bacon which I omitted). Today, a simple toasted bagel, cream cheese, and egg sandwich. Serving to him with salt and pepper, fresh camping coffee and the offer of orange juice and you’d think I’d given him a purple robe and crown and shuffled backwards down our deck ramp in homage. He is instantly pleased and sure that this is the Best. Vacation. Ever. And it’s such a simple thing to do for me. And with the fresh air and time on the sea I find I am actually hungry in the morning, as well.