Last week, due to a series of co-worker vacations, Andy was put on second shift for 7 days.
Now, before you go all, poor Brittany has to suffer through seven whole days with Andy working at night, whah whah– Imma stop you right there while I pull out my Second Shift Wives Club Rewards Card. You’ll notice it’s laminated.
I earned it while Andy worked second shift when we got married. And when we had our first kid…and the second…and the third. Everyday for five years, I was left alone with three babies, some so fresh they had just dropped out of me.
I’m actually just one punch away from the all inclusive male hooker 3 day cruise to Punta Cana, and by inclusive I mean, they supply the Valtrex and I don’t have to tip for Happy Endings.
Andy worked from 3pm-4am six days a week, and then came home and slept until 11am every day. That equaled about 3 hours of co-parenting infants, give or take the hour it took him to get ready or for me to eat my feelings in the hall closet.
It was hard on him, it was hard on me, and it was hard on our kids, but when he finally got word he would be taking over a first shift spot, I was obviously happy…but also a little sad. You see, second shift sucks. It’s hard and lonely and stressful, but it also had some surprising perks that I totally missed, and was happy to get a taste of reliving last week.
Recently, a few of my friends have had to make the change over to second shift families, and I was all too honored to spend some time getting them shit-faced, talking them off ledges, and sharing with them how I made 2nd shift not suck for us.
1. I bought a good vibrator. No, seriously, a good one. Not the baby pink Oriental Trading Company one you got 5 years ago at your cousin’s friend’s Sex & The City bachelorette party that you were completely mortified about. That one sucks and the batteries have probably expired into that weird liquidy goo stuff they make Skittles with. Throw that one away, go online, read reviews, order a pretty one. If it’s not more than a specialist co-pay, you’re doing it wrong. I wasn’t trying to replace sex with Andy, but there’s something lovely about spending sometime getting to know myself in the biblical sex after an evening in my bed, alone, reading trashy novels or watching Harry Potter (hello to you, Professor Snape.)
2. I had to make afternoons more delightful and less oh my God I’m naked in the daylight. Related to #1, I had to come to a workable sexual relationship with my husband, which, spoiler alert, obviously happened just fine because I have three kids listing him as their biological father. But, this meant that unless I wanted him to wake me up out of a dead sleep at 4am with a sharp jab to the side, we were going to have to have sex in the afternoon. This was a hard concept for me to get behind, because my body was not something I wanted to see, let alone show others in the light of day, no matter how pretty Andy told me I was. This was a mental hurdle I had to clear in my own head… between Judge Alex and nap time.
3. I had to sleep-train Andy. You know when you have a baby and you finally get them to sleep, and you are all, so help me God, if one fucking person rings that doorbell or shouts outside, I will take a wrench and smash their mother fucking throat in, but then your mom is all, you have to get the baby used to sleeping through noises, vacuum, keep the tv on, run the disposal, blah blah your house is a mess. She was right then, and she’s right now. Andy needed his sleep, but keeping three small children quiet in the house while he did it was near impossible, so I stopped trying. I mean, I didn’t let them scream or blow air horns, but we kept a reasonable volume throughout the day, careful not to be loud upstairs, and eventually Andy learned to sleep through the afternoon uninterrupted. Which leads me to…
4. We had the one person’s sleep is not more important that the other’s talk. This was a huge fight for us. Andy would come home from work wanting to collapse into 8-10 hours of sleep, which, news flash, parents aren’t allowed to get by law. Just because he works outside the house, he doesn’t get to sleep like he has mono, leaving me to work from home and care for three small terrorists running on 3-4 hours give or take a bout of baby diarrhea. Our lives had to suck equally, that’s what marriage is, so we came up with a workable sleep amount for him that made it safe enough to operate heavy machinery, but just shitty enough that he had eye bags and was always three seconds from bitching out the lady at the gas station.
5. I reinvented family time. I was lucky in the sense that our kids were young and at home, so since we had to do away with family game night because I’m a sucky loser and Andy hates to have fingers thrown in his face, we decided to take advantage of our days together. We loved going to matinee movies because they were way more affordable, plus less people to yell at you when your kid loses his shit in Madagascar 9. We also hit up the zoo, as there were less crowds during the week, save for school children. If we pulled into the parking lot and saw more than 3 school buses, we went back home. I like tigers, but I don’t put up with unsupervised kids that don’t belong to me love tigers.
6. I had Brittany time. From hair appointments to lunch with friends, I took advantage of having a daytime babysitter and met my friends on their lunch breaks. We’d chat and eat and even have an early cocktail, except for my doctor friend, she apparently can’t drink on lunch breaks. At first, Andy didn’t love this idea, until he tried it himself a day or so every week, but if I was going to have the kids for some of the toughest moments (homework, naps, dinner, bedtime), I needed my mental health.
7. Netflix, Kindle, Showtime, Unlimited Texting. What’s that? You can’t sleep in your bed without your spouse? Oh, that’s adorable. Yeah, I have no experience with that because I’m what Andy calls, a “selfish sleeper.” But, I will admit that fighting insomnia when you are alone sucks, and even though your kids can stay awake for endless amounts of daytime hours, they are giant pussies when it comes to waking them up to keep you company at 2am. So I always made sure I had things to keep me busy, from B movies to sexting.
8. I dated Andy. We were so focused on him getting time with the kids, time with us went pear shaped. It began to feel like we were roommates who lived with three co-dependent midget junkies, and also, we sometimes screwed. When it got to the point when something important happened, and Andy wasn’t the first person I called…I knew things had to change. So on the weekends, we prioritized dates. We went out and tried really hard to talk about things other than the kids. I did my hair and put on jeans that button; talking about soccer schedules and gift wrapping fundraisers was not on the table.
In the end, we came out the other side of this the same way we come out of most things, married nymphos with happy kids, surprised as fuck we’re still alive.