One of the very few advantages of lockdown is that for some of us, our partners are home, too. And in many cases, it’s a welcome change to those fraught evenings, when all hell breaks loose, and we pray to hear their car pull up so we can catch our breath. Here, writer Lana Hallowes conveys the emotions of that time – because, if we’re aren’t already, we know we’ll be back there all too soon!
It’s 6:27pm. You usually walk through the door a little before 6.15pm. This means you are now 12 minutes late. And I am ropable. Where are you? I need you. Now, I realise 12 minutes is hardly late, but I want you to know these are the longest 12 minutes of my life.
I’ve been counting down your arrival
From about 5:30pm onwards, I start to see the finish line of my Mum shift. Well, actually it’s just the sun setting on my day shift, because I still have the night one to go, but you coming home gives me a little interval of sorts. A chance to have a shower while you hold our baby. And I desperately need this time. I’m exhausted. Deflated of energy. I’m over it. So, so very over mumming day in and day out and not having a second to myself.
But I also know that you will feel the exact opposite to me. You’ll be tired from your day, too, but in a different way. You’ll be craving holding our little one and perhaps feeling jealous that I got to spend the day with him. I get that. I know I am fortunate to get to spend such special one-on-one time with him while on maternity leave. But here’s the other thing.
I’m also so emotional these days and you being late is winding me up. By the time you walk through the door, I may have morphed into a monster.
Tick, tock …
As I listen out for the familiar hum of your car engine pulling into the driveway, and watch the seconds pass on the clock, I start to get anxious.
‘Has he had a car accident? Oh God, no. We have a bubba. We need him. He is our main man. Our big love. No, don’t be crazy. Oh, but it is raining outside. Maybe I should call? No, then he really will have an accident,’ I fret.
Then not long after my ‘something bad might have happened’ panic attack, my anxiety starts to morph into anger. You can thank my new mum rage for that – it’s brought on by hormones, sleep deprivation and a general feeling of overwhelm. Anything and everything sets me off, and right now it’s the ticking hands on the clock sending me crazy.
‘He better not have stopped off at Bunnings,” I hiss to myself. “Or been nattering to that new friend at work instead of leaving on time. Doesn’t he remember that we have a baby? And that I need him? WTF!’
And then I start to worry: ‘Maybe he doesn’t want to come home to me? I wouldn’t. I was such a cow to him yesterday.’
Then I hear the car!
When I finally hear your car pull up I let out a deep sign of relief, but I can’t dismiss all the feelings I’ve just had. I am all churned up when you walk through the door.
“What’s wrong?” you ask as the heavy vibe of the room hits you smack in the face (welcome home!).
I don’t have the words
I know you are concerned for me and want to do the typical guy thing of trying to offer a ‘solution’ to the problem, but I honestly don’t have the energy right now to form a coherent sentence. Instead I may exhale deeply and hand you our bundle of love to hold. Wordlessly, I’ll trudge to the shower.
What I want, I think, is for you to say something like this instead:
“I’m here. Sorry I’m late, I was stuck in bad traffic because of the rain. Now, give me that beautiful bubba because I’ve missed him like crazy! Why don’t you go and have a nice long shower? I can see you’ve had a bit of a full-on day. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about it after – if you want to. I love you.”
So now you know why I am sometimes a crumpled mess when you come home. I’m sure it won’t be like this forever, but for now, can you please try to come home on time? And if you are going to be late, please just call or text me. My mental state depends on it.
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