Here & there: The only thing worse than not going to Hawaii

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — Last week at this time I was getting moderately sunburned in the rolling surf of Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai with my oldest sister. We were surfing together – one of her wishes for her fiftieth birthday – on ten-foot foam boards with a local guide half our age and quadruple our skill.

It was a perfect day within a perfect Hawaiian week filled with fish tacos dripping with mango salsa and shave ice drenched in real fruit puree. A perfect week of snorkeling above hundreds of Humuhumu fish, hiking in the red-stained mud and hours lazing on the beach with a book in hand, interrupted only by the desire to wade into the rhythmic surf fifteen paces away.

But this week, not so much. This week I’ve been crawling out of the hole left in my sleep by an overnight flight back to the mainland and a pile on my desk that doesn’t seem to care about my lovely vacation.

At seeing my tan face and eyes parenthesized in dark circles, a girlfriend quipped, “the only thing worse than not going to Hawaii is getting home from Hawaii.” Well, that, and coming home to a fully completed “Honey Don’t-do List.”

You aren’t familiar with the “Honey Don’t-do List?” Think of it as the lesser known, less desirable brother of the “Honey Do List” – the Danny Devito of the Devito/Schwarzenegger pairing in the 1998 movie Twins.

I was first introduced to the real-life concept of the “Honey Don’t List” thirty years ago by a family friend. He traveled three weeks out of every month for work. When he was home, he wanted to be an asset to the family. He wanted to help his wife in all the ways he couldn’t be a helpmate while traveling – with the kids, with the car, with the household.

In the spirit of helping, in between trips, he spent several hours one day with the phone company fixing the family’s landline number. Their somewhat new phone number was coded with a brand-new area code for the city and he didn’t like it. He reasoned they were an established family, not a newcomer to the area, and their phone number should reflect that.

The only problem: the “new area code” phone number was already in full circulation in all the important places. It was in all the school directories. In the soccer team rosters. On the church phone list. On every school emergency phone. These were paper directories, not digital ones.

So, the phone number went back to its original form. After he left town. And after his wife logged in several hours herself with the phone company. Problem solved – and solved, again!

I returned home from my Hawaiian super-awesome-fantastic vacation to a spouse who had shouldered the burden of three kids, a dog and a full-time job solo so I could do it. Let me just say right now that he’s basically a rock star.

Let me also say that I hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours. So, when my husband proudly showed me the few house projects he’d completed in my absence, I almost cried. The bad tears.

I’d been hoping he’d squeeze in a drive-through wash of my car and maybe replace the burned-out bulbs in the garage door opener while I was gone. But the new projects overwhelmed me. Mostly because I didn’t want them done.

He had indeed replaced light bulbs in the garage door opener and even painted the shoe-marked man door in the garage (which was nice). But he also installed a commercial-grade door closer on one of the outside doors (which I’m sure I’d vetoed two months ago) and made the dishwasher stop squeaking – by removing the hinges entirely.

If I’d had more sleep, I’m sure I would have been more diplomatic. As it was, I hadn’t – and I wasn’t. It wasn’t exactly a soft landing.

While he fixed the deck at his childhood home and I washed off the travel fatigue in a shower, I reflected on what else he had done in my absence. He oversaw homework and music practice. He fed our perpetually hungry boys and sent them to school with homemade lunches.

He navigated being rear-ended by a texting 20-something. He cared for our oldest who almost broke his foot doing a triple off the double-mini trampoline at gymnastics. And he managed kids being out of school for the fall break. All while working a full-time job. Without help. No babysitter. No grandparents. Not even Uber Eats.

On top of that, he somehow managed to make several home improvements (even if they didn’t count as “improvements” to me). Rock star doesn’t even begin to cover it.

As I considered my less-than-ideal post-vacation behavior, I realized something important: he wasn’t the only one who had a “Honey Don’t-do List.” I did, too. And top of mine: don’t forget to appreciate your husband. Even if his “Honey Don’t-do List” included taking the hinges off the dishwasher.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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