“You need a break,” my husband Jeremy said, “why don’t you take tomorrow off?” After a long and frustrating week, I wasn’t going to argue. The kids and I had been annoying each other non-stop, and there was only so much more I could take. Jeremy had been keeping count; I had asked the question “do you want a timeout??!” forty-eight times in three days. A timeout was just what I needed, and the kids would love spending time with dad.
Saturday morning dawned bright and pretty. Jeremy took the kids into the yard, and the absence of thundering toddler footsteps meant I slept in until nine. I had a long, hot shower, blow-dried my hair, and even put on some make-up. With the family off to the park, I went into my office, ready to happily putter around.
An hour later, I was enjoying a rare phone call with a friend. My daughter Molly clomped up the stairs and wandered into my office, wearing her shoes and comically large bike helmet. She started chattering away, and I listened with half an ear.
“Daddy was in his workshop,” she said.
“Uh-huh,” I replied.
“He was drilling some metal,” she said.
“His hand slipped and now there’s lots of blood,” she said, saving the best for last.
Springing into action, I dropped my phone and leapt from my chair, stumbling awkwardly. Grabbing some first aid supplies (a tampon and a Band-aid), I rushed downstairs, tripping over the vacuum. My husband was standing in the driveway, holding his right hand, and wincing in pain. “This is a bad one,” he said. Maintaining my composure (struggling to control my panicked, raggedy breathing) it was agreed that Jeremy needed to go to the hospital. Despite my best efforts, he insisted on driving himself (“the baby is still napping,” he pointed out. “And I don’t think you can drive right now,” he said with a raised eyebrow, as I inhaled deeply into a paper bag.) Ever pragmatic, he insisted on hosing down the driveway first (there was, in fact, a lot of blood).
Strange thoughts cross your mind when your partner is injured. Uncomfortable thoughts about (God forbid) going it alone. What if he passed out while driving to the hospital? What if the truck rolled down a ravine? What if hungry bears, attracted by the smell of blood, crawled into the truck, and chewed his hand off?
All these wildly improbable scenarios flickered through my mind as I waited by the phone. While I was wondering how to put a bear in a headlock, Jeremy called. There didn’t appear to be any tendon or nerve damage; he received seven stitches and an admonishment to be more careful. Relief flooded over me; my husband was bruised and sore, but he was okay. Even better, I hadn’t had to fight off a bunch of bears like some enraged female Grizzly Adams.
Jeremy came home tired and drained. Molly excitedly asked him about the doctors in the hospital (“did the doctor give you a needle?” she asked, her eyes wide), while Andy drooled and repeated the word “daddy” over and over. “I guess your day off was kind of a bust,” Jeremy remarked with a rueful smile. I didn’t care about my day – it wasn’t important. All that mattered was that my family was safe and whole. Events like this put things into perspective; the days may be long and occasionally irritating, but we’re all healthy and thriving. We have a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. I’m grateful for the happy home we’ve built for ourselves. Besides, I have the rest of my life to take another day off – next Saturday sounds good to me!