Married moms often get flustered when their husbands are not around. They worry about how they will do everything, how they will get the kids where they need to go, how they will put dinner on the table, gas in the car, homework in the brain, whatever it is they feel they need to do.
“Bill is out of town and I’ve been a wreck.”
Sometimes, they say this in front of me, without realizing. I must be a wreck all the time. If they did realize, they would probably think I am a wreck all of the time.
I am not a wreck all the time. I am not a wreck anytime, because I can’t afford to be. If I am a wreck, it is when all of the above is completed, everyone else is dreaming about the fabulous days they had, and I collapse on the couch.
The other day, I heard a new concern. “Bill is out of town, and I am really glad I have the dog.”
Does the dog mow the lawn? Wear a suit? Buy anniversary gifts?
“When he’s not home, she sleeps by the door.”
Being the only adult in the house, I had forgotten that male adults can provide a feeling of safety for females and children. Well, certain male adults. Should I be scared, then, every night? Should my daughters be fearful every night? Should we think we are sitting ducks if someone should intrude? Our dog is deaf and blind. Are we crazy, living this way? We are a police action waiting to happen.
We live in a safe community. We have an alarm. We are very careful about the things you need to be careful about. I am confident that I, as the sole adult in the house, could handle any incident as well as a person with bigger pectorals. It is not a choice to think otherwise. It is not a choice to think otherwise about this, or anything else, in the house or out.
When I was living alone in New York in the late 80s, someone robbed my apartment when I was gone for the weekend. I came home to find my stereo and jewelry missing. Immediately, I called the police, my parents and my friend Stephen. Feeling afraid, I locked up the apartment and slept at Stephen’s. My parents came into town the next day and we outfitted the doors and windows with all sorts of contraptions. When the armor was in place, I assumed we would hop in the car and head up to Westchester, have some Chinese, play a little Monopoly. I’d take the train back in the morning. But my father told me I wasn’t going. He told me I was staying put, like Houdini in a box. Did I think I was going to run home every time something bad happened? Well, kind of.
I woke up the next day unscathed, and the day after that, too. No one broke in again. No one could, it was like Alcatraz on 71st Street.
When I was married, I don’t recall feeling any more or less safe than I do now. I used to check all those doors and windows each night before going to bed, too, and turn on the alarm. It is not good to feel at risk in your own home. I felt bad for the woman and her dog.