Mister J is taking twelve weeks of paternity leave. Today marks the conclusion of week one, so I hugged him really closely and said, “Where have you been for so long? I have missed you.”

The Mister J I miss is Home Mister J.

Work Mister J is necessary and loved, too. I mean, he has to work because of bills and mortgage and food-on-the-table and all.

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Work Mister J is very studious and serious. He’s got a giant head (No, really, he has a giant head.), which houses his giant brains. His giant brains pay precise attention, which can be, quite frankly, a little annoying to me.

I am the kind of person who skims over instructions to get to the point, meanwhile missing several steps I typically don’t notice anyway, such as, was that inchworm supposed to move up and down in addition to rolling back and forth? No, I didn’t think so, either.

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Home Mister J likes to relax and typically overshadows Work Mister J’s keen attention to detail, unless he is planning a vacation (when he actually gets to take one); however, my skill set comes in pretty handy once we get there, reminding him to chill out and just be.

“Let’s not over-plan this,” I will eventually blurt out.

(So what if we get lost on a 5 mile hike and end up on the 9 mile trail with three kids! Right? I mean, that totally happened once, but I totally hitchhiked us back to the main lodge where our car was parked AND no one got murdered!)

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Work Mister J is the Mister J who gets stuff done, which helps us to take care of all of the necessary parts of our livelihood, such as electricity and water. You know, those things you think are otherwise free until the bill arrives; those things you are grateful to afford, such as good hygiene, clean laundry, and the elements required for boiling spaghetti.

On a rare occasion, I even enjoy listening to Work Mister J ramble on about work. He rambles on in the official IT Language of Jargon and Acronyms, which, I am thinking, must fulfill the foreign language gen. Ed. requirement for any university computer science degree. (Most of the time, I don’t even think in the very middle of what he is saying, about how I should go clean out under the beds, or perhaps cut the lawn with a pair of kid safety scissors.)

I love Work Mister J, but Home Mister J, he is my favorite!

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Home Mister J is goofy and he makes a really good cocktail. He is lighthearted and enjoys good jazz.

Home Mister J and I like to make Sunday night dinner together listening to NPR, or sharing some cool new band one of us discovered that week.

Home Mister J and I sneak away to little corners of the house where there are no kids to be seen or heard, so that we can pretend, for a brief moment, that we are still those same two college kids living together in a tiny apartment on campus. We remember things like how he first proposed to me in our tiny kitchen of that tiny apartment with an inexpensive mood ring that eventually turned my finger green.

Because when you fall in love as two college kids, that’s all you can afford, and the blissful experience of knowing you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, makes fancy rings seem rather small and unnecessary anyway.

Mister J, before he was Home Mister J or Work Mister J, used to always take life too seriously. I, however, had a terrible habit of not taking life seriously.

I like to think that I softened him up a little to let him know that he is never too old to play. I like to think that he toughened me up a little to let me know that, sometimes, doing life in preprogrammed rhythm, serves a good purpose for simply getting things done on time.

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Home Mister J is still that same boy who is was gifted in the art of useless, interesting facts about the world.

Home Mister J is still that boy who could make me laugh so hard with his odd sense of humor.

It’s nice to get to spend all of this time together with Home Mister J. It’s been a long time.

I was reminded today, when we were walking along, that he has always had this uncanny ability to make humorous observations while maintaining composure. He will make a remark and then stand there, retaining his cool and calm, as though he had merely rambled off something rather boring about the weather.

Today the 13yo was getting annoyed with us for walking too slowly in the mall.

We had a showing because I’m irrational, and thought that if we didn’t like living in this new town we had moved into less than a year ago, we should just pick up and move again. And Home Mister J and Work Mister J thought that seemed like a good idea, too, because Home Mister J and Work Mister J are amused and contented with letting me be me.

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There we were in the galleria mall in the middle of mega suburbia–where the schools are good and the restaurants are chains–with our breeding family of six. We were killing our time before we could go back home, moving slowly while occasional groups of teenagers would text their ways around us.

Home Mister J and I, we didn’t care. Neither did the 7yo, nor the baby. The 11yo was occupied with being mad because Home Mister J and Work Mister J and I wouldn’t spontaneously buy her a pair of $70 Snoopy sneakers.

“Why are we ambling through the mall? This is annoying!” said the 13yo.

To which Home Mister J replied nonchalantly, “Ambling. Well, the last time I heard that word was when I read it in a period piece.”

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