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Buffalo wings, buddies, beers and burgers beckon boasting…and baggage

For more than twenty years, the majority of our married life, I have come to hold a grudge against my husband’s annual guys' weekend, but not for the reason you may think. I am more than okay that he has time away with the guys to hang out, talk sports non-stop, tell guy humor jokes and do whatever else guys do. Every adult deserves some time to just be him or herself.

As a matter of fact, I am kind of impressed that he sets boundaries and prioritizes this weekend over other family things, even if it means he might miss prom pictures or a play performance that happens one weekend out of the year. After all, he has been there to cover for the both of us when I had to travel for work.

MIKE: Wait for it…. She is about to drop the “reason” soon.

The challenge for me is that he drops the ball, nearly two days before he leaves. It’s as if he is a kid, that can’t wait for Santa Claus to arrive and gets distracted by the pure excitement of getting away and seeing friends from his college days.

Please, give me a little leeway on this next stereotype, but when women/moms leave town, some plan and freeze meals for the weekend and make sure house chores are not just up-to-date, but ahead of schedule. I remember times when my hubby, the family manager, left town and I was home with four kids under the age of six, with no baby formula, on the last handful of diapers and less than a glass of milk in the fridge. It was like he got a free pass on his at-home dad role, and dropped the house like a hot potato for a 48-hour leave.

MIKE: Ok, ok…I may have once or twice left the house without completing a “to do list,” but that is in the past. When I left last weekend, the camera was charged for prom pictures, the fridge was full of food and the sheets were changed on all the beds.

This is the first weekend I had a little angst about going away. I lost a bet with the guys last year and that meant, according to the bet and college-buddy rules, I had to eat seven of the hottest wings the bar had on the menu. Let’s just say that part of my weekend was not all that pleasant.

As I have aged and gained wisdom, I can’t tell if my anger is surface level or if it is masking some jealousy that he can just let it go while I harbor feelings of guilt for missing, more than 10 years ago, my child’s actual birthday party due to business travel. I mean, in fairness to me, I had actually made his birthday cake and wrapped the presents before I left for the trip. I carry the baggage, while my husband boasts to our boys about eating the hottest wings for a bet he lost with his buddies, and then how he washed it all down with burgers and beer.

MIKE: Good times. It’s not that I don’t have the baggage, as she often reminds me of it. I do enjoy a little, temporary escape that involves food and friends and nothing more. I can love my life, including kids and wife, and still want to escape just for a few moments from the worry, the laundry and the milk in the fridge, which now our teenage boys guzzle.

The irony of this all is that I tell the kids all the time to really own their own feelings, and not get caught up on the surface level issues. I tell them that if they get to the root cause of an issue -- going beyond the immediate conflict to determine the real spark for an emotional reaction -- there will be a more authentic response and empathy toward others. Ouch! Sometimes swallowing your own wisdom is a bitter pill. Okay, I am jealous that he can go and disconnect. Secretly I smiled as I pictured him eating those super-hot wings. It was the sugar I needed to help that self-awareness pill go down.

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