Since this week featured two back-to-back business trips for me with just a couple days at home in-between, my wife and daughter packed up and headed south for an extended stay with my in-laws. This means that for basically the first time since I got married, I have the house completely to myself for two nights.
And it’s really weird.
When I got home from work, there was no sound of “Daaaaa!” from behind the door before I opened it. There was no pounding of tiny footsteps on our wood floor. There was no smiling face bursting into the kitchen and yelling “Hi! Hi! Hi!” before I could even get my coat off.
My house—long expired from its various lives as a bachelor pad or a newlywed love nest—gives every indication that the rest of my family has been Raptured. The signs of their recent presence are everywhere, but the silence is deafening. I step on random crumbs when I walk through the dining room. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes. When I was moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer, something fell on the floor—a raisin.
My daughter’s usual haunts—her bedroom, the living room and the basement—contain small chaotic piles of toys, books, Twistable colored pencils and zoo animal puzzle pieces. In the basement, where she regularly plays with a toy kitchen set and prepares fake food while I run on the treadmill, everything is as she left it after her last cooking session. I removed a toy mixing spoon from my gym shoes before completing a treadmill run without any toddler interruptions. I didn’t have to tell anyone to bake something in the oven or put food on the plates or clean the plates in the fake sink. I just ran.
After a few years of marriage and a couple years of fatherhood, being a bachelor again just can’t compare. I like a little alone time as much as the next guy (guilt-free blogging!), but just a little. Theresa and Maddie each have a part of my heart now, and not seeing them for a week just feels…strange. I have plenty to do to fill the time, but my brain keeps noticing the solitude and my heart keeps reminding me of how integral they are to my life.
It’s sad how easily I can take the blessing of their presence for granted sometimes when I get home from a stressful day at work or Maddie’s cranky or I’m tired and just want to relax on the couch. This strange retreat from our everyday existence is showing me what a treat that existence really is.