The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt


When we finished rehearsal that night, I could almost imagine myself leaping out into the airy elements and dropping the insubstantial pageant of life behind me.

Two days ago, we bought a couch. M and I are excellent at making large purchases. We met at the Coop after work (the children, they were still at my parents’ house where they’ve been for the week) and made a plan. Order food, shop for couch, pick up food, go home to eat and save the dog from her prison sentence in her crate. And it basically worked just like that. Except, the first furniture store, when we got there, was already closed. We called to the second one to make sure it was open and discovered we only had 20 minutes. “We’ll be right there,” M told the clerk over the phone.

We arrived, meandered the showroom, sat on three couches, and then picked one. Then we picked the material, the color, the colors for the throw pillows. Then we meandered back to the couch and decided to get the chair that goes with it. Same color, same fabric.

It will arrive in five weeks and you are all invited to come sit on it. The dog will probably sit on you while you sit on it. That’s all right, isn’t it?

M and I have spent most of this week on our own. It’s always odd to find ourselves alone in the house without three eager/anxious/excited/focused/scattered/always loud boys competing for the resources. There’s a sense of pressure to conform to the habits of other unfettered couples and we both find ourselves wondering: Is it okay to watch different TV shows in different rooms? Is it okay to eat something for dinner before he gets home? It it okay to go to bed at different times?

These questions are never an issue when we are both continually in the act of surviving the chaos that is life with kids. We make unspoken allowances because we understand that this is what is necessary to withstand this particular stage of life.

But when that stage of life suddenly leaps forward a dozen years to a time when there is relatively little chaos to escape from, are the rules going to change?

Turns out, not really. We spent more time together than usual this week, but we still went to bed at different times, we still watched shows without each other (we have widely different tastes). We still make expensive decisions in about the amount of time it takes for a Mexican meal to be ordered and made. We still had a terrific time, together and apart.

Apparently, we all have our talents.

And then yesterday, the children returned. When I got home from work, I was met at the door by a writhing ball of frantic humans and puppy, all of them wanting to smell my clothing and touch my face. It was gratifying. “You seem different,” the seven-year-old said. “Because I missed you,” I told him.

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