As you might imagine, things have been a little nightmarish here tonight.
"Their clothes are lined up on the hutch in the lounge room. Shoes are under them on the floor. The lunches are in the fridge. Grace's violin (Miss8) is in the dining room - don't forget it." Tracey has been snapping off orders as she marches past me, first one way then the other. "Make sure they take hats. If it's cold, you'll need to make sure they wear jumpers. And it will be cold so make sure you remember them."
My job, at times like these, is to stay out of my wife's way. I can't, for example, turn on the telly and drink beer or phone a friend, but equally I can't pick out uniforms or make sandwiches. Now I realize you might think I'm being sexist and nominate me for Useless Bastard Husband of the Year, but I'm serious: my role at these busy times is to stay distant but attentive. Being able to respond to instructions with "Yessir" or similar is the sole vital part of my job. Tracey doesn't have time to repeat herself - this was one of the first things she told me - she needs to feel confident enough in my ability to do what she's said that she'll be able to walk out the door in the morning.
"Make sure their hair is up, there's been letters coming home about nits. The breakfast cereal is on the table. Don't let them pour their own milk after they're in their uniforms. You'll need to drop the little ones off first and then come back to drop the other three at school. Check if they're recessing before you leave the house. You know where the machine is?"
It's why I've only just managed to sit down and write now - the bags are lined up in the kitchen and Tracey has gone to bed, freeing me from my very important 'put her mind at rest' duties. It's been exhausting for me, I can tell you.
So tomorrow I'll be up an hour before usual so I can get this mob sorted. Tracey will be up and gone an hour before that. I have my orders. It should be easy.
Tracey just popped out of the bedroom because she thought of something important to tell me.
"If I die tomorrow you're not allowed to remarry."
That's what I love about my wife: she really does cover for every contingency.
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