And I can’t blame Paolo for not keeping up with dirty dishes or laundry or spoiled milk. He worked all day and had his hands full with a squirmy, confused toddler every night. The fact that Naomi was just fine when I got back—she just smiled sweetly at me when she woke from her nap and saw me for the first time in a week—is evidence that he and his family did a pretty good job keeping her routine as normal as possible in my absence. Sure, she was a little more clingy than usual the first few days I was back but less so than the dog!

Still, as sucky as the circumstances of my week away from my family, I can’t help but take just a little satisfaction in the knowledge that my husband can’t do it all without me. Plus, I don’t think it hurts our spouses to be reminded of that every so often. Despite our little power struggles over whose turn it is to walk the dog or clear the table or change the poopy diaper, my family is a symbiosis: remove one element from the picture and things just don’t work right.

So the next time I leave town for a week, they’re coming with me (though we are getting a dog sitter).