My wife and daughter left me – for a few days

Goodbye responsibilities, hello carefree bachelor lifestyle



I’ve never had any interest in seeing what life would be like if I wasn’t a father, but I recently had a chance to find out.

My wife and daughter lucked into an opportunity to travel to Toronto with some friends during a school vacation. They’d visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, catch a Bruins game in Buffalo and probably meet Geddy Lee of Rush – because even though I went to college 35 minutes from the Canadian border, I’ve never been there and that’s what I assume happens when you visit Canada.

I’d stay in New Hampshire to watch the dog, attempt to hit a couple of deadlines at work and avoid a 12-hour car ride. I’d also conduct a grand experiment and alter reality, however temporarily, and live in the darkest timeline – the one where I’m not a dad or a husband or, let’s face it, responsible in any way. For a few days I was no longer Dad on Board. I was just Bill on Board – a guy and his dog. Here’s how that went:

8 a.m.: It’s an exhilarating thought – the house is empty and I realize I can do anything I want. Anything.

8:09 a.m.: I can’t find anything to do.

9 a.m.: I take the dog out for the 127th time in the hour or so since they left. I quickly learn this will become the focal point of my entire Bill on Board existence. Taking the dog out is usually my daughter’s job. The longer she is gone on her Canadian adventure, the more I appreciate how much she does around the house without a grumble or complaint.

10:30 a.m.: I text my wife – “I’m bored. Can you guys come home now?”

11 a.m.: I begin to fully embrace the Bill on Board personae and do things I would never dream of doing when my wife and daughter are home. All restrictions are off the table and I prepare to unleash pandemonium. So I buy a loaf of potato bread. I like potato bread.

I spend the rest of the afternoon debating whether I should name my new Warcraft video game character “Shemp” or “Thurthtin.”

6 p.m.: I text my wife – “I ate the shepherd’s pie for lunch so there’s nothing left. Can you guys come home now?”

I do live near Epping, which means there are a number of take-out options, and thus I will likely survive the three short days my wife and daughter are away. I decide to subsist entirely on clams and iced tea.

In the end, I learn three important things:

1. I will never take my family for granted.

2. I can get a World of Warcraft character to level 10 in an hour or so.

3. I’m glad I have the life I do, because evidently I’m too tired to rebel.

What I thought would be a short-term blast of freedom and carefree irresponsibility ended up being a few days of killing time until my wife and daughter returned home and everything returned to normal. Normal is not so bad, it turns out. 

Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with (thankfully) his wife and daughter, who didn’t get to meet Geddy Lee when they went to Canada. He is also the managing editor of custom publications at McLean Communications.

More Dad on Board columns by Bill Burke

The BIG question

What does she want to be when she grows up? She has a few ideas.

The not-so welcome wake-up call

Mornings start early in our house – our teen daughter is less than thrilled

Bringing up Baby Driver

Driving instruction is best left to the professionals – I’m out

Waiting for the insurrection

So far, so good on the teenage rebellion front

How to Dad (On Board)

A decade of Disney and diners with my daughter
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