Most mornings, I wake up alone. Yes, there are four people clinging to me, begging for my attention and toaster waffles, but for all intents and purposes, I am alone while I foggily pour juice, change diapers and try to solve the inevitable quandary of who indeed dealt it. Alone, I teach my 7-year-old to read words with complex digraphs, alone I teach my 5-year-old to recognize sight words, alone I teach my 4-year-old to recognize letters in print, and alone I pray my 2-year-old just keeps his clothes on.
Yes, I can call friends. I’ve been blessed with several who share my viewpoint of life, and approach their own with a light heart. I can set up play dates. When he’s in our country, my husband might be home for a few hours while the kids are awake, but other than that, I am parenting alone.
Humans are social, communal creatures. We aren’t meant to live like this.
I need a military sister wife.I want someone else to help make breakfast in the morning, a fellow human old enough to understand the social implications of riding the Quad City DJ’s train. I want her to help me separate fire and kerosene, I mean my two middle children who fight like Roman gladiators. I want her to remind me to drink my coffee before it’s cold. I’ll get the syrup while she pours the juice.
I suspect she would have her own kids. That’s okay. My kids could use some others to keep them honest. It’s good to grow up in a herd. One learns kindness and responsibility. Maybe she will love art, but hate math. I can hand over my drama queens for some painting, and teach her kids the finer points of the order of operations. I’ll even let her kids play with my fancy pants graphing calculator while I wipe the paint off the table.
She can read to the kids while I mop the dining room floor. If I had a sister wife, my tile floor might not be a carpet of spilled juice puddles and fish stick crumbs. Mostly, we could just yell adult conversations across the house at each other. They would probably still be about bodily functions, but that’s okay, too.
We could cook better lunches, and start dinner on time. Maybe she would enjoy grocery shopping. She could go alone. It would be like a date, but with explicit lyrics on the radio. I could supervise the kids as they played outside, and she could put away groceries without someone maniacally ripping the Box Tops off the cereal.
We could back each other up when the tiny tyrants gang up on us. No more toddler fodder music. The radio will be rocking “Livin’ on a Prayer,” on repeat. The kids will just have to let it go.
The kids wouldn’t even mind that much. There would be more kids to help them build a fort out of the coffee table, an ottoman, a bed sheet, and two winter scarves. Yes, more kids might mean more fighting, but there would be two of us to referee, like breaking up a fight at a hockey game. We could take turns, with one separating with the use of brute strength, and the other calming the children and sending them to their penalty boxes.
There would be two of us to remind each other to parent positively. We can get through this without yelling.
One of us could wash, while the other dries. One could fold clothes, and the other could put them away. Yes, we would likely squabble with each other and pout when we’re just tired of it all, but ultimately agree we’re fighting the good fight together.
Then, on the rare occasions my husband is home and awake when I am, I wouldn’t alternate between throwing the kids at him while I hide in the bathroom, and jabbering his ear off because his age has two digits.
This brings the sticking point: my husband. I don’t want to share mine, so I guess wanting a sister wife really means wanting a commune. “Commune” stinks of patchouli and bad weed, but maybe we could make it our own. We could grow fresh vegetables in container gardens in post housing, and take turns watching our children play in our tiny, shared yards. It would be like Big Love, but without the polygamy.
We always hear, “It takes a village.” I guess it’s time I found mine.
Hannah Weatherford is a homeschooling mom of a 7-year-old math prodigy, 5- and 4-year-old MMA hopefuls, and a naked toddler. She's been an Air Force wife for 8 years, and the family is stationed at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.