Tomorrow I will wake up alone. Yes, there will be three other people in my bed, all of them clinging to me, all of them under five. But I will be, for all intents and purposes, alone while Il blearily scramble eggs, change diapers, settle squabbles over sippie cups and spoons. Alone I will dress my three sons; alone, I will teach my five-year-old to read. Alone I wilI wash clothes and sweep floors and do the thousand little things a household of five requires.
Yes, I can call friends. I have them. I can set up playdates. My sons have lots of those, too. And at five pm, give or take an hour, my husband will come home. But other than that, I am parenting alone.
Humans are communal creatures. We aren’t made to live like this.
I want a sister wife.
I want someone else to help make breakfast in the morning, a fellow human taller than the average Canada goose to commiserate over coffee. I want her to help me separate the screaming toddlers and pour me a bowl of Gorilla Munch before I forget. I’ll get the spoons. This is an equal division of labor, here.
I suspect she’d have her own kids. My kids could use more kids around – it’s good for them to grow up in a herd; they learn responsibility and kindness that way. Maybe she’ll love three-year-olds, but hate teaching art. I can hand her my threenager and sponge-paint with her brood. I’ll even clean the paint off the table.
She can read to the kids while I wash the floors, because if I had a sister wife, my floors might actually get washed. Mostly we could holler adult conversations across the house at each other. They’d probably be about poop. That’s okay, too.
We could manage to cook better lunches and even start dinner early. Maybe she’d actually enjoy going to the grocery store. She could go alone. It would be like a date, only with herself and some explicit lyrics blaring all the way to Publix. I could supervise the kids in the backyard. Or not, really, because as long as they’re over two, visible from a window, and not killing each other, they don’t need backyard supervision.
We could take turns warming up each other’s cold coffee. And back each other up: that Pandora station is staying on 90s Alternative music, not the tiny tot channel. You lose, rugrats. Sing along with some Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge” instead of “Let It Go.”
The kids wouldn’t even mind that much, because there’d be more of them to go run away and build a fort out of pillows, a giant stuffed giraffe, and pilfered string. This is called creative play.
Yes, they’ll fight more. But there will be two of us to separate them, two of us to calm them down. Two of us to remind each other: we parent positively. We can get through this without yelling.
One of us could wash while the other dries, while the kids play in the yard, while we probably fight with each other sometimes, and sulk at each other sometimes, but agree that yes, we’re in this together.
And when my husband comes home from work, I wouldn’t alternate between throwing the kids at him while I hide in the bathroom, or jabbering his ear off because he isn’t three feet tall.
“Commune” stinks of patchouli and bad weed. But maybe we could take it back. Maybe we could keep chickens and share a backyard, like Big Love but without the polygamy. Maybe we could make it work.
Maybe we could make a village.
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