Friday, January 11, 2013

When Dad's Away the Musicals Play

Ian's off doing military classes out of state for a couple of weeks.

The downside of this is all the juggling I have to do.  When you design your life around two parents in the picture and you pluck one of them away (the stay-at-home one, no less) you have to rely on babysitters and people to cover you at work during school pickups and the like.  I'm suddenly doing all the laundry and all the cooking and all the cleaning and (nearly) all of the dog walking, etc.  But it's not bad.

The main thing I struggle with when we have these mini-deployment flashbacks is my stress level.  I get impatient with the kids when I have to do everything alone all the time, and I'm more prone to yell.  A few hours after I took Ian to the airport I snapped at Aden because she only has one chore--to empty the dishwasher--and she never remembers to do it.  Then I apologized because I'm supposed to be the grownup and yelling makes me feel stupid.  I resolved that damn it, I could make it two weeks without yelling, and I told Aden if she would try harder I would try harder, and so far so good.  What I've been doing is leaving her a note on her breakfast plate in the morning so she'll remember to empty the dishwasher before she eats (which she really needs to do because Mona's chore is to fill up the dishwasher again after meals).  The most recent note read:  "Knock knock.  Who's there?  The dishwasher.  The dishwasher who?  EMPTY ME!" So it makes her smile and I don't have to yell and life is better.  My hope is that she'll get into a habit of looking forward to finding the note, which may turn into a habit of simply remembering to empty the damn dishwasher.

That's been the height of the drama around here and that is nothing so I can't complain.  I like having more time at home, I'm getting things organized, and the kids are helpful but they miss Ian.  I miss Ian.  I have trouble sleeping when he's not home.

But there is an actual upside to Ian's absence when we must do without him.  We watch movies he would never be able to sit through.  Namely musicals.

At one point when he was away for a significant length of time I introduced the kids to The Sound of Music.  This meant explaining to my children about both nuns and Nazis, but it was worth it for some of the songs.  The last time Ian was out of town they asked if they could see it again.

Now, I'm not actually much of a fan of musicals myself.  The ones I've seen live that I could watch repeatedly are: Hair, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Book of Mormon.  (Man, that's a weird list now that I'm looking at it.  ANYway...)  But I do believe in making sure kids understand certain cultural references, and some musicals it's just good to have seen.

So tonight's movie is Singin' in the Rain.  I actually saw that the first time in a theater when I was probably about Aden's age and I loved it.  I don't think I've seen it since watching it on TV back when I was in high school.  In any case, I figure the kids should know the origin of the song that they use in our grocery store to warn people that the vegetables are about to get sprayed with water.  We'll see if they like it.  We'll see if I still like it!

The real fun starts next week when in addition to my kids I'll have two extra ones.  A friend of ours in the National Guard has her own training to do out of town so we volunteered to have her kids stay with us.  They asked me excitedly yesterday on the playground how many more days it is before 'the big sleepover' and I told them a few more yet, but soon.  I don't think they understand that it won't be one giant play date because they will have to pick up after themselves and do homework, etc.  I won't be in hostess mode.  I will be in mom mode.  Which apparently now includes amusing notes about the dishwasher and Gene Kelly songs so maybe they will still have fun.

Time to make popcorn. 


  1. One summer my sister Caroline and I watched musicals all summer because we could get VHS tapes for free from the library. We became obsessed with anything with Julie Andrews (all the Disneys) and Gene Kelly. Singing in the Rain and Brigadoon our favorites...also an American in Paris.

    There are some things that every kid must know and all the lyrics to Sound of Music has to be one of them.

    Good luck with the single parenting!

  2. Our family's favorites are On the Town, Meet me in St. Louis, and The Pajama Game. From early kidhood into early adulthood.

  3. You're an admirable mom!

  4. I HATE the single parent thing. Thank goodness it doesn't happen that often around these parts. My sister calls me a whiner and gives me no sympathy because her husbands travels for his work practically non-stop. But, the difference is as you wrote, we have set up a two parent household and she hasn't.

    I'm actually quite the fan of musicals. It's always left me open to ridicule, but I don't mind. My favorites are "The Sound of Music" and "My Fair Lady". I've always wanted to see "Singin' in the Rain" and feel I'm missing out somehow.

    I love the utter ridiculousness of the big Rogers and Hammerstein musicals with their elaborate dance routines combined with the soaring music. It's all in good cheesy fun.

    Good luck on the rest of this deployment.