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The Husband's best body part? I've come to realize it might be his ears

Mar 13, 2014 - By Clair McFarland

Last week, The Husband was compelled to leave town for work. He did so with regret and concern, as it would be my first series of evenings without his help parenting our four children.

He made certain to remind me of all the things a lone-dwelling woman ought to know: where we keep the pistols, how to make coffee that doesn't taste like soap, and all of the circumstances under which a hormonal hand should alter the thermostat settings (virtually none, save for spontaneous combustion and liquid nitrogen warfare). Then he gave a tender farewell and left.

Only one positive aspect of his trip seemed apparent to me, and that was the fact that he would return two days before the day -- also known as the worst day of the year -- upon which daylight saving time would start. The onset of daylight saving is no fun when you are simultaneously a morning person and a non-vampire.

Sure, I value The Husband's help and companionship. I knew that it would get rough putting the older boys to bed during the baby twins' wakeful time with no one around to rock the twins for me. I also knew that I would miss his ability for conversing sensibly and without the help of spontaneous, toddler-esque coinages or references to Jake the Pirate.

What I didn't anticipate was how badly the children would miss his conversation -- a bereavement of which they did not seem wholly conscious, but which was made apparent to me by the ways in which I was forced to fill the void.

Let me back up. I'm raising talkers. The children contain my genetic propensity for frequent, rapid dialogue, and they are also given to such by the waterfall of words they have already absorbed during their short lives.

I always assumed that one of my chief functions as a mother would be as conversationalist, because my mom was always such to me. She endured my endless yammering for hours, days, and now twenty-some years, and she has always framed useful replies to what those of you who know me or who have overheard me at the grocery store would consider wild soliloquy.

Now that I am a mother to two -- potentially four, but it's too early to tell -- auctioneers, I wonder at the fact that I haven't driven Mom mad by now. Oddly, she is as sound as ever. Perhaps this is because I have finally relieved her by having found someone who provides as much of a conversational outlet as she has: The Husband.

The children are no different when it comes to their need for an outlet for verbal expression. They are not the kind of children, like so many of their fortunate-mothered peers, who only need to run around for a while to attain bedtime calm. No, they need to get their words out instead. For this, they require more than one set of ears and more than one repertoire of responses.

With the two older boys regaling me with the full force of their imaginations and their questions for five straight days, I began to realize just how much I value The Husband simply for his presence and his two ears. I grew giddy at the thought of his return to share some of the ceaseless listening and responding they demanded of me.

Oddly, however, when he rushed inside and gave each of us a bear hug, neither the children nor I felt like yammering -- and all became blissfully quiet.

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