Peter isn’t home.
It seems so strange to be in the house with just Philip and Roscoe. For the past four years, Peter has been home. I leave for work, and he’s here. I come home, and he’s here. Except for the times he runs one of our cars to his friend’s garage for a couple of hours or he drives to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes, Peter is home.
When I got pregnant, we decided together that I would return to my job outside of the home, and Peter would provide child care. We both assumed that Peter would eventually return to work at least part-time. Neither of us realized how fortuitous our arrangement would be. We couldn’t have known Philip would be autistic and therefore need the structure and consistency that a stay-at-home parent can provide.
However, I know that Peter often feels terribly bored, lonely and frustrated with his stay-at-home role. Even though he is a homebody and not socially out-going, he still wants more from life than changing diapers, doing laundry, driving Philip to and from preschool and the other tasks that need done but just aren’t that exciting.
“I never go anywhere,” he complained to me. That statement resulted in a day trip to Niagara Falls last December. It’s also how we ended up doing more things as a family, too. From participating in Family Nature Club to attending Hobo Day, Peter has begun joining me as I take Philip out exploring and experiencing. It’s been quite nice to share these times together, to have an extra set of hands and to discover some really cool places and activities that aren’t that far away. I keep an eye out for fun things in the area that we can do together.
Despite the fact that I grew up in the country, I had never been to a tractor pull until two years ago. We went to the one at our local county fair. It was Peter’s first time, too. We decided to make it a tradition to send Philip to Grandma’s so that we could attend the pull at our local county fair.
After attending last year’s event, however, Peter starting checking out YouTube videos and visiting pulling websites. What else did he have to do during Philip’s nap time?
So it was that, in early June, Peter talked me into driving 160 miles round-trip to attend a National Tractor Pullers Association regional event. I talked him out of taking Philip with us.
We became hooked on pulling.
We now have favorites. We recognize vehicles and know the names of drivers. We critique the speed and efficiency of the track crew. We always agree that the announcers either talk too much or are hard to understand. We like traveling to new places and driving through parts of Ohio that we’ve never been to before.
A coworker laughed when, after she described spending last Friday night at the opening of a fancy new restaurant, I told her that I had spent the evening at the Crawford County Fair’s tractor pull. I tried to explain the appeal, but I won’t worry if I didn’t change her opinion.
Peter and I have been to four tractor pulls together this summer. Three of them have been date nights for us. We took Philip to the other pull and quickly discovered that the pacing of “the heaviest motorsport on wheels” is not enough to keep his attention.
That’s why I’m at home and Peter is not. He’s at the Seneca County Fair watching an Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association-sanctioned event. This is the eighth truck/tractor pull he has been to in July and the second one this weekend. I’m not counting the pull he drove to last Saturday only to learn it had been rained out. As much as Grandma loves spending time with Philip, we hate to impose on her so frequently. Rather than having Peter miss out and “never get to go anywhere,” we decided that I would stay home and watch Philip so that Peter could attend these events.
As much as we enjoy going together, it’s working out for Peter to go alone. He gets a change of scenery and an evening’s entertainment while I have time at home to do things I want to do.
So, here I am taking advantage of my solitude. Philip has fallen asleep. I should go to bed soon, too, in case Philip wakes up in the middle of the night. I’ll have the whole bed to myself and not have to fight for the covers. Peter won’t get home until late. Most pulls usually last at least four hours, and tonight’s is over an hour away.
Yet, even if I do go to bed, I’ll probably be awake until I hear his car in the driveway. When he climbs in beside me, we’ll quietly talk about how our favorite drivers performed, what the venue was like, about the nice people Peter sat next to or the rude people that he tried to avoid.
Finally, I’ll be able to fall asleep. Not because I’m hooked on pulling and couldn’t wait to hear all about it.
Because Peter is home.