What happens in Vegas may stay there, but I’ve got the checkbook.
Posted on April 19, 2012
Single parenting is hard.
Couple it with a shrunken paycheck (a natural result of shrunken work responsibilities a la my cool new job share), toss in a prankster husband, mix with some super stocking at Target, and you have a nice recipe for comedy and a precursor to a tragic end to someone’s bank account.
Let me set the scene.
The Husband is off on what I like to call, “Parenthood Credit Trip 2012.” He spent a few days in Vegas (at a “conference”), and now he’s somewhere in Utah camping at a location that has ants but not caterpillars, which is what the first site had. I didn’t know he was camping with a bunch of chicks. I’d be more concerned if I wasn’t so tired.
This is the first time I’ve been solo with our kids (and it’s still weird to say that plural word out loud…). Emma is just five months now, and I’m nowhere near ready to leave her. Of course, Charlie is almost two, and I really don’t want to leave him, either.
But The Husband deserves this trip. He works hard, he’s an incredible parent and he needs a vacation away from it all and all our chaos.
Plus, every day he’s gone is a day in the ol’ Parenthood Credit Bank.
Not that I’m counting, but I figure parenthood is a lot like working in corporate America. You might get some great perks now and then, like getting to travel internationally when your company expands, but then there are the little things to keep you in check, like how vacation days don’t accrue from year to year. If you don’t use them by year’s end, you lose them.
Lucky for me, the benefits plan I negotiated for my Parenthood position came with a vacation day credit bank. I think most couples have them. I probably won’t use mine for another year or so. That should get me a week in Palm Springs, at least.
Now, I have a confession, I’m not really doing the single parenthood thing. My Dad, aka Grampie, arrived several days before The Husband departed, and he’s even staying several days after TH returns. I won’t kid myself and say it’s because he loves me that much. Sure, he loves me. But that credit bank rolled up its sidewalk and relocated to Grampieville two years ago.
Now, it’s all about the kids. I am so lucky to have parents who are both so enamored with my children – and who have been so supportive and perfectly silent during many difficult times as we welcomed Charlie seven weeks early and Mary Emma 17.5 months later.
Like I was saying, single parenting is hard. And I am blessed not to have to shoulder it more than a few hours at a time during a typical week. We have an amazing wreath of support around us every day, and the older I get, the more thankful I am for all the people I made a part of my life over the years, so that they could now be a part of Charlie’s and Emma’s lives.
Now, back to how The Husband thought he was really funny by messing with my Single Parenthood Fund.
A few days before he left, I reminded him gently but firmly, “You know you’re going to need to leave me money, right?”
“Oh. OK,” he said. Like perhaps it had just occurred to him that my new part-time job status meant my money tree was missing a few limbs. Fine. That’s OK. While we’ve been married for more than two years, we knew each other only four months before getting married, so we still have moments of, “Oh that’s who I married.”
So, yeah. He married Broke Girl. Well, I married Sweaty Boy, and I still love him.
The day before The Husband’s departure, he hands me a wad of twenties totaling a couple hundred dollars. “Will that be enough?” he asks sweetly. “That should do it!” I say crisply, like I’ll be moving stocks and bonds while he’s gone or something.
I’m nowhere near my wallet when he hands me this windfall, so I tuck it under a paperweight on his desk, where I’m sure I was doing something productive that did not involve Pinterest, Facebook or a little site called WordPress.
A few hours later, to my shock and excitement, both kids nap. At the same time. As I head for the door with a wave back toward Grampie and The Husband, knowing full well this may be my last opportunity to go somewhere by myself for the next week (um, yeah, the Office. Does. Not. Count.), The Husband stops me in the doorway and hands me another wad of cash.
“I found this in the garage,” he says. “So now you have twice as much money.”
“WAHOO!” I exclaim. “I’m rich! I’m rich!”
OK, so I only said it once so it would appear sarcastic. But what I was thinking was, “Hello, Marshalls! Come to Mommy who hasn’t seen you in a while!”
(That’s right, I may like to shop, but I start with the bargains first, so quit your eye roll and go judge someone else.)
I happily spend the next 90 minutes painstakingly perusing every last aisle of my local Marshalls. I mean, every one.
It was peaceful, it was exhilerating, and just knowing that, at anytime, I could buy virtually any number of $20 T-shirts was enough psychological empowerment to keep me from buying more than a birthday present for a friend and the cutest little sundress for my daughter.
I return home refreshed and still rich. Life is good.
So, The Husband jets off on his “business trip,” and Grampie and I schlepp to Target with both kids and stock up on all single-parenting-for-a-week essentials, which of course means wine and a month’s supply of cat litter just because I could.
After unloading the car, my rich self says to Grampie, come on, Grampie, let’s go out for lunch. After all, the least I can do is buy my dear Dad a burger for being my second set of hands, feet, eyeballs and booger-picking fingers all week (he will refute that last one, but I don’t think anyone can help themselves around my son’s booger factory of a nose).
Except the money is gone.
Wha-?? I think. Surely Charlie can’t reach that high. No one else has been in the house. Grampie hides cash for me to find, so he’s not going to be a person of interest here.
OMG, The Husband took the money back. He’s in Vegas with that money.
I scratch my head in disbelief. I stare at the empty desk incredulously. I ponder the thirteen ways I can kill him and get away with it.
What happened to the money you gave me that I put on your desk?
I text in a mild rage.
Did you take it?
I text in a slightly less mild rage.
And then I get the reply.
“I gave it to you,” he says. “I thought you knew it was the same money I’d already given you.”
WHAT?!? I’ve been TRICKED by my VEGAS-VISITNG HUSBAND?!?!
I call him. He doesn’t answer. I picture him sitting in a conference “meeting” and staring at his phone in horror, knowing his wife is capable of reaching through the phone and sticking it up his nose.
We leave to go to lunch. I am decidedly less gleeful, because I know Grampie is buying our lunch today. I am no longer rich. I squandered my money on cat litter and wine, and now I am nearly penniless.
The phone rings.
“I’m sorry!” he pleads through smiling teeth (I know this because I have known him long enough to know what his teeth sound like when they are grinning at me). “Are you mad?”
“I THOUGHT I HAD TWICE AS MUCH MONEY AS I ACTUALLY HAD!”
I realize I sound like a spoiled brat here. But really, if my budget had been as originally understood, I would have stocked up on essentials accordingly. I was tricked into believing I had twice the budget I actually had. I feel silly for splurging on excess cat litter. (What? You thought I’d feel silly about stocking up on wine? Do you know me at all?)
“Write yourself a check,” The Husband says.
So I do. And I include a handling fee.
I won’t spend it all. We won’t have fresh fish and organic green beans for dinner tomorrow night to follow the 12-topping pizza we didn’t order tonight.
The Parenthood Credit Bank is back in business again.
“I miss you,” he texts that night.
“You’re also missing $400,” I reply.
I’m thankful he is far, far away and can’t reach through the phone.