Initially...when your wife is gone you feel like nothing will really change. But this initial feeling is dead wrong. Emphasis on "dead".
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Remember that quote? Well, let me write my own version as I recount the ways I miss my wife when she's gone for a few days.
Let's call this "How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways."
When my wife is gone...the house almost immediately turns into a disaster area. No kidding, it's like someone comes into the house while we're gone and sets off a pipe bomb in each room of the house. Clothes strewn about and draped over open bathroom drawers, cups and plates and silverware left wherever the girls (or the husband) took their last sip or the last bite. Literally, I think they drop the utensil immediately when they have no need of it anymore.
When my wife is gone...school bags packed with homework and schedules and homelinks and upcoming events are propagated on the dining room table as if flung from a manure spreader. Some need to stay home, some need to be signed and taken back to school, some need to be magnetized to the refrigerator for prideful display, some aren't due until next week, some required parental assembly and guidance, some need nothing but your child's common sense (a faculty that shuts down upon their mother's departure). Suffice it to say, school bags are a mess especially in the last week of school. Heidi holds this together with her "motherly mind powers", I look at it and wonder what's what.
When my wife is gone...the girls don't take showers. I don't know why this is, because I take 2 showers a day, so it's not like I'm the unbathed savage dad who has an aversion to cleansing himself. I just don't think to enforce this simple daily discipline upon the girls because usually Heidi understands the hygienic balance of each girl. There is a subconscious reason that I think I subversively avoid showers and baths...hair.
When my wife is gone...doing the girls hair and getting them ready for school or church is nigh unto impossible. Note: I think I can pull this off, but my daughters have adopted the warped belief system that I don't know how to blow dry, run a brush through their hair, and create a straight part. I don't know who indoctrinated them with this falsehood, but they reject any notion that I can help them get ready in the morning. Picking out their clothes (matching) is a whole other story, but I will spare you the melodrama.
When my wife is gone...healthy patterns of food consumption goes out the window. We eat standing up in the kitchen. We rummage through the cupboards looking for food and each of the girls want something entirely different leading to grub-gridlock. We begin to negotiate and I try to encourage compromise among them as the diplomat. We have plenty enough food, but they each want something different at every meal. Last night was a perfect example of this culinary paralysis. We spent 10 minutes going back and forth between food groups until we hybridized together three plans into one. I'm not equipped to be the executor of food distribution and consumption. I'm content with raw hot dogs, icy pops and jumbo pickles. Seriously.
When my wife is gone...the schedule of drop offs and pick ups gets complicated. When you include into those standard procedures the end-of-the-year field trips, fields days at the park, soccer practices, soccer games, dance practices and performances during the weekend services at Impact, and the plethora of spontaneous chauffeuring that takes place during a given day...you are bound to miss something when normally it's not on your radar. (yesterday, I got caught in Grand Rapids traffic and had to call in back up to get Kami from Middle School)...crazy.
When my wife is gone...I lose a point of reference as to when to go to bed. One night I'll stay up late, the next night I'll go to bed along with the girls at 9pm. When I slip into bed, it's weird to have the whole bed to myself...I like it at first and sprawl out sideways like I own the place until I realize that our mattress has ruts worn into it where we normally sleep and the center is a protruding hump that bends me backwards when I try to slant sideways and take advantage of Heidi's empty side of the bed. Before long, I'm laying there thinking about how much I miss the balance she brings to the bed and how lonely my left side is without her filling the right side. I tried to sleep on the right side last night and it took me about 5 minutes to move back over to my side of the bed. That's her spot. And when she's not there, the presence of her absence fills the room. I lay there thinking about her while thinking about how I'm going to navigate the next day without her parental mastery.
"How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways." The dilemma is knowing where and when to stop counting.