It's that time of year again: I become a widow for a very long weekend.
As the husband packs a bag with a toothbrush, some toothpaste, all of his thermal underclothes and six different blends of whiskey and heads "home" to Maine and his three best boyfriends, I get ready to break all the rules of parenting we have so carefully mapped out.
As he gets ready to sail down the slopes of Sunday River, I plan on feeding Ittybit cake and cookies for her Sunday breakfast and letting her camp out on his side of the bed for the full four days, leaving snack crumbs and tiny toys behind as souvenirs.
Bedtime this weekend will be whenever, bath time will include 20 extra minutes of soap-wasting fun and she will have full and unfettered control of the remote for her Saturday morning cartoons. "This Old House" can fall into the basement for all I care, we will be checking out what's new at the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, thank-you-very-much.
If I have any energy leftover all of the clothes he hordes but never wears will be heading to Good Will or the landfill.
This is payback.
For the longest time I fought tooth and nail against the husband’s old-boy network.
It's not that I don't adore his friends. They are possibly the most fun folks I've ever had the pleasure to meet. But that's not to say I want to be left alone to twiddle my thumbs, divert temper tantrums and clean the house for 52 hours while he gets four restaurant meals, three lift tickets and all the banter he wants unrelated to Barney.
Let's face it, no matter whether their plans are to hike in the White Mountains, kayak down the Saco River or ski downhill at Mount Abrams, the reality is the weekend always winds up being four days of sitting around a fire of some sort, drinking single malts and making all manner of revolting sounds.
I used to rail against the boys-only weekend because it seemed so antiquated, not to mention unfair.
Women hardly ever hand their kids off to their husbands and disappear for four days of drunken debauchery (let alone sober shopping). The ‘boys will be boys’ response he gave me just made me want to hurl boiling oil in his direction.
Oh, I could wax moral on all the ills of this gender segregation. I could lay down a trowel full of "What is this teaching our daughter?" as I build a wall of jealousy around this yearly ritual. But I'd be missing the forest for all the trees.
Because the truth is I get it.
This men-will-be-boys stuff is as simple as falling off a log (and I'm sure they've each done that in their otherwise harmlessly inebriate states): They enjoy each other’s company and they can't really be themselves – in all their vapidness – with the wives watching.
A part of me is envious that he has that ability that his friends have stayed close enough and interested enough to plan such elaborate ways to drink themselves silly and talk about nothing in person. But such antics are not likely going to satisfy friends I know.
Oh, sure, we pretend to be the sad put-upon wives who are holding down the fort while our clueless housemates — the ones with the Y chromosome — plod along forgetting to wring out the kitchen sponge or replace the toilet paper roll. But I think in reality we are just happy to plod along after them and kvetch.
Seriously, sitting out in the cold, around a campfire, having spitting competitions really doesn't sound like something I could do for four minutes, let alone four days.
But throwing away all of his torn up shirts (he claims he will use for rags when they are no longer good) and NOT having to be the mediator of television viewing wars fought between a 38-year-old and a 4-year-old is my own little reward.