As I looked on at the destruction of my home on Sunday, I realized how much I missed my family.

When my wife took my son with her to visit her parents in southeast Idaho a week ago, I reacted with a certain amount of muted joy. I didn’t want her to know that her departure was greeted with excitement, as I anticipated the bliss of eight straight days of bachelorhood.

In my mind, a week alone would be reason for celebration. No responsibilities, no parenting duties, nothing to keep me from going out and having fun or staying in and playing video games until my eyes bled.

As they say, be careful what you wish for. After a week of takeout food and saving the world from zombies on the Xbox, I couldn’t be more ready for my family to come home.

You see, it has taken years of training to transform me from an irresponsible vagrant barely capable of keeping myself properly nourished into a semi-accomplished nearly-qualified working father. It hasn’t been easy, but the duties of managing a home, a wife, a career and a son have slowly been incorporated into my life to the point that they now take up probably 90 percent of my weekly routine.

But in one fell swoop, my responsibilities toward wife and son were whisked away, and without my spouse there to keep me in check, so too were my duties toward keeping the house functionally livable.

In their absence, I descended into a feral state, living off of fast-food burritos while bunkering myself in the basement with my movies, Nintendo games and an ever-growing collection of unwashed drinking glasses.

Every day was the same. Wake up and go to work. Get home and hunker down in front of a screen until I fell asleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. What I thought was going to be stress-free escape from my family turned into a scary window of what kind of life I might have carved out for myself had I opted to live a life eternally single.

No responsibilities toward keeping an organized schedule. Hardly any cooking or physical exercise. Just work and entertainment.

It’s strange as I look back on the past week of single life. It’s strange how much I realize that I enjoy being on a weekly schedule and having my routine planned out for me days in advance. Sure, I complain about it while it’s happening, but being accountable to my wife and my son ultimately makes me a better person in the long run.

When Maureen is home, we keep each other on task for little things that we otherwise would have left slip through the cracks. Parent-teacher conferences, meal planning, house work, yard maintenance. It’s a delicate balance that we’ve been trying to perfect since before we were married. She keeps me focused and I keep her emotionally balanced, and we help keep each other stable.

Call it co-dependence or call it a successful marriage, I don’t care. But I do know that when my family is out of my life, I’m a worse person for it.

My wife’s presence back in my life this week likely won’t get me to the gym any more than it did the week before, but it will mean that she’ll be there to remind me of the certain things I enjoy that I let go when she’s not around. Cooking, gardening, sewing, reading. The domestic arts, you might call them.

I call them life. I call them comfort. And I’m excited to get them back.

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