Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
One recent evening, my husband came home with some news.
“I have to go out of town for work,” he told me.
Since this is an extremely uncommon occurrence, the announcement took me a bit by surprise.
“Really?” I asked. “For how long?”
“Just one night,” he replied with a knowing smile.
I furrowed my brows. I secretly (or not so secretly) hate it when my husband is gone. We're a tight family, and when one is away, the rest of us feel a little out of place. But, I quickly reasoned that this was only one night. The right thing to do was to give my husband a good attitude so he could be productive at work, and appreciate the quality time I would have with the kids. I looked back at him and winked.
“No problem,” I told him confidently.
Before I knew it, the day of his departure had arrived. After woefully watching him disappear into the horizon, I turned to my kids with new determination to make the experience an enjoyable bonding time for all of us.
“Let's do something fun!” I told them.
Three happy faces beamed back at me, and we embarked on an afternoon of sprinklers and sno-cones. After dinner and baths, we snuggled on the couch and watched a movie together. I was a happy mama.
That is, until I let our dog in from his evening trip outside.
As he darted past me, I observed with horror that he was covered in mud. Panicked, I haphazardly chased him down to the sound of my kids' resounding laughter. When I finally caught him, it was a toss up on who was covered with more mud.
“Time to bathe the dog!” I told my kids with forced cheerfulness.
Still giggling, they all followed me into the kitchen. My little team stuck right by me as I bathed our pooch, mopped the floor and vacuumed the carpet. When I was done, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Mommy!” my youngest son yelled as soon as I had exhaled.
“What?” I said, panic returning.
He pointed with wide eyes and an open mouth to his sister.
I looked at my daughter, who was looking back at me with a mischievous smile. Next to her was her discarded diaper.
“I go potty!” she announced proudly.
I blew my hair out of my face and commenced round two of baths and carpet cleaning. I had just finished when…
“Mom?” my oldest son asked.
“Isn't it trash night?”
I hung my head. As a matter of fact, it was.
And, as anyone with small children can probably understand, our trashcan is no laughing matter. I dutifully trudged out to the garage where I surveyed the task. There — looming in the corner like an ominous beast — was the garbage.
As my kids watched with renewed amusement, I gathered and smashed the trash bags until they fit, and then hauled the impossibly heavy thing to the curb. As I breathlessly wiped the sweat off my forehead, I was on the verge of total annoyance: This was not how I pictured this night going.
Just as I was about to write it off as a total disaster, I saw the looks on my kids' faces. All three were smiling with genuine delight, and though I didn't necessarily share their sentiments, I knew the best thing I could do was show them that I also saw the humor in all this.
“Well, I think we've earned some ice cream!” I told them with a smile.
They giggled and whooped as I dished out the treat. Then we sat at the table and laughed together over the various debacles of the night.
A short while later, I tucked my sleepy children into their beds. As I did, I reflected on the evening.
I was surprised to realize the impromptu comedy of errors really hadn't ruined it: dirty dogs, potty-training accidents and massive trash piles are just part of life. My kids and I had stuck together and laughed through it all.
My reverie was interrupted by the sound of the phone ringing. I raced down the hallway to get it before it woke the kids.
“How was your day?” my husband asked me when I picked it up.
“It was fantastic,” I told him. And I meant every word.