The Longview

The Longview

This one better be f-ing good. Kate hasn’t out rightly said this but her face has said as much each time I’ve asked for some time to go and write my blog. She nods slowly with her eyebrows arched in that expectant, menacing sort of way. She stares at me a little too long. I’ve been asking for a lot of time to write my blog over the last week or so. It’s the only way I can think of to get a nap. But now I’m screwed. It feels like high school all over again. Kate went out with the kids and I didn’t join them because I said I just really wanted to finish up my blog. Now, here I am, Kate will be home in an hour or so and I’ve written nothing. She’s going to be so mad at me.

In high school, I had a good friend who, every time there was a party somewhere, he would tell his parents that he was going bowling. This went on for a full year. There were a lot of parties. “Going bowling, mom!” he’d yell as he left the house. Then one night his parents thought it’d be fun for the whole family to go bowling. He was totally busted. Fortunately for this friend though, bowling isn’t like, say, violin. I remember him telling me that something miraculous happened that night –he bowled strikes all over the place. His parents never suspected a thing.

Bowling isn’t like writing either, unfortunately. I can’t close my eyes and type and hope for the best. I could plagiarize –maybe cut and paste something from one of the other stay-at-home dad blogs. No one would ever know because no one reads stay-at-home dad blogs, certainly not other stay-at-home dads. (I read one once and all I wanted to do was punch the dude in the face and go get a job.) I could go several months completely sleep nourished. People would say, “wow, Ben, you look great. You don’t look like you just had a baby.” And I’d say something witty like “well, I didn’t. Kate did” because my mind would be lively and quick on so much sleep. But at some point I’d slip up and not change the names of the other stay-at-home dad’s kids (kind of like the time in high school when I turned in someone else’s paper and forgot to change the name at the top) and Kate would start to get suspicious.

No, I have to dig deep. I have to just do this. I’ll write about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, something I’ll be able to go on and on about…

So, it turns out I’m the only one in my family who flushes the toilet. Number one, number two, doesn’t matter. The kids have a pretty decent excuse, being 5 and 3. But with Kate, honestly, I don’t really get it. Her mom is here visiting. I’ve been meaning to get up the guts to ask her what policies on toilet flushing were like in the UK around the time of Kate’s upbringing. The old “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” saying does have a certain American feel to it. But maybe there was some British-y version like, “Drop a bicky in the bog, let it clog, lay a squidgy in your knickers and…” I don’t know, I haven’t slept quite enough to come up with something there. And I don’t even know why crapping your pants would be a part of it…

I’ve been pretty cool with the non-flushing thus far. I go with the flow even when the flow doesn’t go (see how much sleep I’ve gotten!). But it’s been hard lately. For one, our central air died recently and for a few days there it was as hot as a rat-arsed bloke in a toad hole (again, no idea). If you’ve ever shat in a sauna, you know that heat tends to exacerbate the stench. It smells like summer camp in my house.

The other straw that’s breaking my back now is simply the sheer amount of the shit being regularly deposited in my house these days. This morning, for instance, I awoke to a steaming pile on the living room rug. Dogs, I hoped. (but I found it odd considering the dogs busted through a screen window last night…

…and were out most of the night. I let them in at about 6am and out again at seven when I had to get up…which means they basically came inside to shit and then went back out again.) I decided that cleaning up dog shit was a terrible way to start the day so I went back to bed. Upon my approach, I saw on my side of the bed what appeared to be a good amount of mustard. Baby shit I determined. How it got there I didn’t really know since, for one, while we don’t, as a family, seem to believe in flushing turds, we do believe in containing them; and two, the baby is sleeping in his bassinet next to the bed. Whatever. I pulled up the sheets from my side and lied down on the mattress. Then Kate awakened to tell me that Theo had a “poo through” and could I change him. In other words, she knew the whole time! She noticed the poo though, moved him to the bassinet, and left the poo –in his diaper AND on my side of the bed. What I did next was precisely what Kate and I had talked at length about doing our very best to avoid doing when times got tough with this new baby: I told her it was her turn.

A few weeks before baby Theo was born, I ran into a neighbor friend at the playground. He had recently had baby number three.

He was slumped and wearing a sweat suit. “It sucks,” he said. “It just sucks”.

“What’s the worst part of it?” I asked him.

“Honestly,” he said, “it’s the bickering”.

I hadn’t known this guy long but he always seemed like a positive, can-do, live every moment to the fullest kind of guy. He now seemed like a shell of his former self. I went home and told Kate we needed to talk. I sat her down and I told her that we had to do our very best to try not to bicker. I was already a shell, I didn’t want to find out what was –or wasn’t—underneath it.

“We’ll be really tired.” I said, in my now-famous locker room speech. “We’ve been through this before. We know we’ll get out of it ok. Yes, we’ll be really tired but we just have to know the other person is doing his or her best too.”

It worked for a while. We bit our tongues and passed each other in the halls exchanging sighs. We felt better about ourselves, and each other. Then I started cheating on her. I snuck naps when I said I was writing –Kate’s always been extremely generous about giving me time to write. So, as it does with many cheaters, my guilt settled into self-loathing, anger and then, ultimately, this, a desperate need to get caught.

It’s interesting. I remember in high school, staying up till 3am fretting about writing a paper, not writing it, and then at some point in the night/morning this new perspective washing over me and allowing me to go to sleep and forget the paper. “What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t turn this paper in?” I’d suddenly wonder. “It’s not like I’ll die.”

Each time I’ve opted to nap instead of write as I promised I would, I’ve taken on a similar line of reasoning…the longview you might call it. “What’s the worst that can happen? Divorce? That’s not so bad.” I fall asleep peacefully and often awaken to Kate standing over me, looking scornful. I usually tell her I wasn’t asleep, I was just meditating. She usually points out that I was snoring. And then I tell her it’s deep breathing. I don’t think she ever buys it.

The fact is, it’s hard to achieve anything when you’re thinking about consequences in terms of death and divorce, or when you’re thinking of your life as it may look on a geologic timeline. In short, you need to sweat the small stuff. You need a short view to get shit done. And you need less shitting in your house to get shit done.

Now for some filler to make my post look longer…

I got my first fan letter the other day! Thank you, Ava Jaquet! (It’s an inside joke. Only the four people who read my “In the Nuts” post will get it)

It reads:Dear Ben, please recycle these Nerds. Love, Ava


Here’s a nice thing a friend wrote in her blog (a real one that actually pays her money) about our Louisa…

We’ve had lots of family come visit over the last couple weeks to meet the baby. The exciting bit of news from this is that my mom and dad have gotten back together! It’s been 37 years of mostly hating each other and avoiding being in the same room together but last weekend they found themselves falling back in love over a shared Scrabble game on the iPad!

We’re all very excited!

Here’s a picture of my mom with her new goiter…

The goiter was contagious…

Kate’s mom with the new affliction

Here’s the dingo that stole our baby (if you look closely you can see her licking her chops)…

Here’s the sight I often see when I try to return to bed in the morning…


Now, finally, just to keep the ‘top ten worst pet moments’ going…

Worst Pet Moment #8

Angie caught and ate a ground hog a couple weeks ago. I say ‘ate’ because she actually ate it. I let her hang onto it for about a day out in the back yard. I would peek out and see her tearing flesh. When she appeared done, I went out with George to inspect the remains. George decided we needed to bury the groundhog’s head and hide –all that was left. So we got a shovel and started digging. We noticed something strange in the ground, a plastic bag of some kind. We dug it out. It had weight to it, like it could’ve been filled with a lot of money. We tore open the bag and discovered a previous owner’s pet dog. We think. A lot of reddish fur, a big skull and lots of bones. We reburied it and moved down a few feet to bury the groundhog head. George was very excited to see what we’d dig up there. Turned out to be just dirt.

That night, Angie crawled in bed with us, nuzzled right up and put her head on the pillow next to me. Then she burped. I very nearly threw up. It was a groundhog burp.

That’s all. Hopefully the next post will come sooner and won’t include a pdf copy of my divorce papers.


  1. Ben, I HOWLED OUT LOUD when I read this…. I am sure you can get paid for this blog, as it is bloody good and incredibly funny.
    Thanks for the lovely laughs…
    Mabrouk for baby Theo. Boozy says he is delicious.