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A woman in a messy room | Source: Shutterstock
A woman in a messy room | Source: Shutterstock

I Came Home from a Trip to Find Our House Being Destroyed by My Husband and Kids — It Was the Last Straw

Prenesa Naidoo
May 15, 2024
09:45 A.M.

As Jo returns from a business trip, she walks into a messy and chaotic house. Her husband, Brandon, greets her with a comment that gives her no choice but to run to her parents' house for refuge. When she returns, things seem to be better. But will Brandon learn his lesson and play his part in their marriage?

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I walked through the door, the clack of my suitcase wheels echoing off the hallway walls, and I was absolutely stunned.

It looked like a tornado had swept through our living room.

Toys were strewn across the floor, dishes piled up in the sink, and what? A blackened banana on the couch?

A blackened banana on a couch | Source: Midjourney

A blackened banana on a couch | Source: Midjourney

My heart sank. This was the last thing I needed after a grueling week of meetings across the state.

I just wanted to come back home to my husband, children, and my own bed. To come back to a clean home.

A clean living room | Source: Pexels

A clean living room | Source: Pexels

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When I left for my trip, I had left explicit instructions for my husband, Brandon.

I had even prepped meals to last the week, sorting out lunches and dinners. I wanted to make everything as easy as possible for my husband.

Containers of food | Source: Unsplash

Containers of food | Source: Unsplash

All Brandon had to do was sort out the kids' cereal in the morning and get them dressed, which would be easy enough because I had sorted the kids' outfits by day. The laundry had been done before I left, too.

Everything was set for my husband to take over seamlessly.

Milk being poured into cereal | Source: Unsplash

Milk being poured into cereal | Source: Unsplash

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And yet, as I walked into my home, craving the comfort of the house I had left for a week, I was only met by disappointment.

Walking into the kitchen was even worse. The sink was piled with used mugs, and the fridge was nearly empty, save for bottles of sauce and a pack of beer.

Used mugs | Source: Unsplash

Used mugs | Source: Unsplash

How had everything unraveled so quickly?

I heard the back door open and close; Brandon had been outside with the kids when I walked into the mess.

"Honey!" he said, rushing toward me to hug me. "I'm so glad you're back! I'm starving!"

A smiling man | Source: Unsplash

A smiling man | Source: Unsplash

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I met his greeting with silence; his words felt like a slap in the face.

"You didn't make enough food for the week, Jo," he added nonchalantly. "I've had to give the kids pizza for the past two nights. We're also out of milk. And I've had to focus on work, not worry about the house."

A box of pizza | Source: Unsplash

A box of pizza | Source: Unsplash

That was the final straw.

The frustration and fatigue of months, no, years, of feeling undervalued and overburdened, boiled over.

"Not enough food?" I asked, my voice eerily calm, despite how I felt on the inside. I wanted to scream.

A woman with her hands in the air | Source: Unsplash

A woman with her hands in the air | Source: Unsplash

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I didn't wait for a response. I didn't even go outside to see my kids, Ava and Max. Grabbing my still-packed suitcase, I turned around to leave.

"I'm leaving, Brandon, and I won't be back until this house is the way I left it. Clean, organized, with a stocked fridge and sorted laundry. Okay?"

A black suitcase | Source: Unsplash

A black suitcase | Source: Unsplash

Brandon looked at me, puzzled and then concerned, as I headed out the front door, but he didn't say anything. He didn't try to stop me at all. He didn't call me back and make promises that he would sort the house out while I took a bubble bath.

He let me leave.

A man looking puzzled | Source: Unsplash

A man looking puzzled | Source: Unsplash

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I drove straight to my parents' house, the one place that still felt like a sanctuary despite my having outgrown it.

When I arrived, my mother opened the door before I could even knock, her expression shifting from surprise to concern at the sight of my tear-streaked face and the suitcase trailing behind me.

A woman driving | Source: Unsplash

A woman driving | Source: Unsplash

"Jo, what in the world happened?" she asked, pulling me into a tight embrace.

I stepped inside my childhood home, the smell of pot roast filling the air. This was a home. This is what I wanted to walk into.

Not the chaos that my husband had let the house escape into. My dad entered the hallway, and I walked into the living room I knew well.

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A pot on the stove | Source: Unsplash

A pot on the stove | Source: Unsplash

"You look like you've been through a storm," he said, taking my suitcase and hugging me.

I sighed, sinking into the couch. The comfort of being home, in a space where everything was as it should be, made the disparity even more painful.

"I might as well have been," I replied, trying to muster a smile.

A woman with tears in her eyes | Source: Unsplash

A woman with tears in her eyes | Source: Unsplash

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"Tell us," my mother urged.

"I left everything organized for Brandon," I began, my voice shaking as I recounted the preparations I had made before my trip. "Meals, kids' schedules, clean clothes—everything he needed to just step in and take over for the week."

Woman organizing clothes | Source: Freepik

Woman organizing clothes | Source: Freepik

My mom sat beside me, her hand reaching out to cover mine. Dad's chair creaked as he leaned forward, his typical joviality replaced by a growing frown.

"And when I got back today," I continued, tears of frustration streaming down my face. "It was like I'd never spent all those hours planning. The house was a mess, nothing was where it should be, and Brandon? He actually complained there wasn't enough food prepared."

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A crying woman | Source: Pexels

A crying woman | Source: Pexels

"That's ridiculous!" my father's voice was unusually sharp. "After everything you do?"

That night, at my old desk, I laid out the financial equivalent of all the tasks I'd been juggling silently. I knew that maybe I was being too much, but I felt forced into it.

A woman sitting at a desk | Source: Unsplash

A woman sitting at a desk | Source: Unsplash

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My entire soul felt heavy. And more than that, I felt guilty that my feelings had forced me out of the house before even looking for my children.

The next day, I knew that I had to return home.

"You do need to go home, honey," my mother said, as she made breakfast. "The kids need to see you."

A breakfast sandwich | Source: Unsplash

A breakfast sandwich | Source: Unsplash

When I returned home, the atmosphere was hopeful. Brandon stood in the doorway, his posture hesitant. Beyond him, I could see the glimmers of an attempt to restore order to our home, with the vacuum left out in the open.

But it was the sound of laughter from the backyard that drew me, tugging at the corners of my heart.

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A vacuum cleaner on a carpet | Source: Unsplash

A vacuum cleaner on a carpet | Source: Unsplash

I walked around to the back of the house, and there they were. My children, playing around with a soccer ball.

The sight of them, so carefree and happy, momentarily washed away the turmoil of the past 24 hours. Max spotted me first, his little legs carrying him as fast as they could across the grass.

A boy playing with a soccer ball | Source: Pexels

A boy playing with a soccer ball | Source: Pexels

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"Mommy!" he shouted, launching himself into my arms, Ava hot on his heels.

"Mom! You're back!" she screamed.

I hugged them both, soaking in the comfort of their closeness.

A smiling boy and girl | Source: Unsplash

A smiling boy and girl | Source: Unsplash

"I missed you guys so much," I said, my voice thick with emotion, the guilt heavy in my heart.

We spent the next 30 minutes playing in the backyard, with Brandon watching from the sidelines. I could see him in the kitchen, doing dishes at the sink.

I knew that I should have gone to him and helped out. Or even begin having our conversation. But I wanted to soak up the time with my children.

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A person washing dishes | Source: Unsplash

A person washing dishes | Source: Unsplash

"Mom, can we get ice cream?" Ava asked after a little while.

My children deserved an outing, so I promised them we would get ice cream before we went out to do a grocery run.

"Go wash up," I told the kids, while I went to Brandon.

I took the envelope that held all the financial statements I had worked on while I was at my parents' the night before. And I slid it across the counter for him.

A closed envelope | Source: Pexels

A closed envelope | Source: Pexels

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"What's this?" he asked, eyebrows knitting together as he pulled out the papers.

"Read it," I said, my voice firm. "It's a bill. For everything I do here that goes unnoticed by you."

He scanned the document, his eyes widening with each line.

"Jo, this is a lot," he said.

"Yes, it is," I said. "And it's time that we rethink how we manage our home and respect each other, Brandon."

A shocked man reading a piece of paper | Source: Pexels

A shocked man reading a piece of paper | Source: Pexels

He nodded.

"I'm taking the kids to the grocery store because we need food," I said, looking into the fridge to make sure that my husband hadn't done any shopping.

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"Do you want me to come?" he asked.

"No," I replied. "You can finish up here. I'm sure that there's laundry to be done, too."

Clothes in a laundry basket | Source: Unsplash

Clothes in a laundry basket | Source: Unsplash

When the kids were ready, I got them strapped into the car and set off. I felt better, knowing that everything was out in the open. I knew that Brandon felt dejected, but I couldn't be responsible for his feelings.

It was about more than my husband's feelings.

The kids enjoyed their ice cream cones as I dragged them around the grocery store, almost happy to be back to my routine.

A person holding an ice cream cone | Source: Unsplash

A person holding an ice cream cone | Source: Unsplash

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When we walked through the door later, my arms laden with shopping bags, the smell of dinner wafted through to us.

"You cooked," I said to Brandon, who was mixing through a pot of pasta.

"I want to do more, Jo," he said. "I want to be part of the kids' lives like you are, not just someone to fill in their basic needs when you're gone. When you took them out now, they didn't even ask me to come with."

Grocery bags | Source: Unsplash

Grocery bags | Source: Unsplash

I knew my husband had finally learned his lesson.

"I just want to make life easier for you, too," he said, plating the pasta. "I'll do better."

We all sat down for dinner together in a clean house, which was exactly what I had wanted the day before.

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I think everything will be better now.

A plate of pasta | Source: Unsplash

A plate of pasta | Source: Unsplash

What would you do?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you |

When Ellie's stepdad randomly gives her a newborn baby to babysit, she has no idea who the baby is or where she came from. But when she has to change the baby's diaper, Ellie finds a name and an address. With the baby in tow, she heads over to the address to uncover the truth about the child and her stepdad.

Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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