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I am about to become a single parent for the week again.
This has to be up there with my least favorite things in life. My husband probably travels about 8-10 times a year but when he does it wreaks havoc upon our lives. We have a carefully constructed house of cards over here and it doesn’t take much to disrupt it – but removing one of the main support beams is sure to have it all crashing down.
I don’t know how single moms do it. I don’t know how military moms do it. After nearly 18 years of marriage, I still haven’t mastered the art of parenting alone while my husband is away. The night before he leaves we are all in a bit of a funk – my husband included. It will be a quiet evening as we are all processing the upcoming changes for the week.
I am so lucky to have my parents nearby who are always willing to help. But if truth be told, I do hate bothering them. I have a terrible problem with guilt. I always feel like it is my problem not theirs. Besides, I purposefully made each one of these children – it’s not like I could claim ignorance or insanity. I am pretty sure my husband and I were both in our right minds at each conception. So caring for them is really my responsibility and I am not one to ask for help very often.
I am carefully orchestrating the week. Driving the older boys to school. Going to the grocery store. Homeschooling the younger kids. Driving carpools for football. Arranging pick up for the older boys. Planning dinners and meals for the kids on the evenings that I work. Trying to juggle vehicles making sure they are all properly fueled for the transportation craziness that will ensue. I try to be proactive and work through most possible scenarios and outcomes. We call this my “disaster planning mode”. I have been told that this would be a great career pursuit for me. I can take any situation from 0 to Mock Two in a heartbeat. I can present you with every negative possibility you could imagine. It’s a gift, really.
It probably stems from the fact that most of my husband’s business trips usually result in something bad happening here. Most times I can guarantee a nasty stomach flu will hit the house or one of the dogs will develop horrific explosive diarrhea. One of the children will ultimately present with a broken bone of some sort or at the very least spend an evening in the emergency room. During my husband’s business trips there have been numerous broken bones and mysterious illnesses. There was one trip that Son #3 presented with the symptoms of appendicitis and we were sent to the ER. He was admitted and the surgeon was ready to cut. I left the 3 other children at home with my mother and tried to connect with my husband in the hospital hallways via cell phone. After 3 days in the hospital it was determined that he didn’t have appendicitis – but a virus that mimics it and was released. That was fun. Most of the excitement does manage to take place during my husband’s absence. I haven’t quite figured out how this happens. I really had enough on my plate without the extra detour to the hospital that week.
So I sit here on a Sunday evening, preparing for my husband’s early morning departure. The weather is especially yucky this week so I did make sure that he went to check our boat today to at least make sure I don’t have to worry about the boat sinking or floating away this week. I’ll ask him 100 times before he leaves which days the garbage goes out. This has always been a mental block for me. Not sure why. The last time he went away this summer we had a fantastic experience with the garbage and recycle collection. Without going into too many details, I’ll suffice it to say that it involved me and all of my kids at 7:00 am heading to Wal-Mart to buy several cans of wasp and hornet killer that could shoot up to 30 feet away and a garden hose while we put on quite a show for the neighbors running, dodging and screaming as 100’s of bees swarmed us. That was the last time I bought those little ice cream cups for the neighborhood boys to devour and throw into the trash and recycle without rinsing them out. Don’t think that would have even happened had my husband been here. No - God reserves those special moments of bonding for my children and I alone.
Right now I am thinking about all of the rain that we have had. The ground is pretty soaked and I know we have two very dead trees behind the house. They are pretty big trees. They are located in such a way that if they fall – they will crush my home – particularly the family room. You better believe that this is on my mind. I wouldn’t think twice about it if my husband weren’t traveling, because nothing happens while he is here. But the moment his jet leaves the runway – that’s a whole different beast right there.
You can also expect that anytime my husband leaves the garage door no longer closes. I don’t know why. I’ll call my father and he’ll have to come over and work on it. My husband will return and there will never be another problem with it until he leaves for his next trip. It’ll be that I am running 15 minutes late as it is and I’m flying around like a complete lunatic and then I hit that garage door button and that blessed thing will bounce and go up 10 times. How can I leave the house when the door won’t close? Same scenario every trip. I will call my father to rescue me – but that is after I call my husband to yell at him while he is in his meeting – because he can do so much from 3,000 miles away – right?
While my husband is gone I don’t sleep. Again no explanation. I get in bed with that man every night and within 15 minutes I am completely asleep. He would definitely attest to that situation - as it is not one of his favorite things about me. In fact, it is probably one of his pet peeves. But when he is gone – I am up all night. I see late night television. Play Bejeweled. Read books. Doesn’t matter – I can’t sleep. I feel this huge burden of being “on duty”. Listening to every sound. Hearing every creak in the house. Every cough of a child. The click of the dogs nails. The shutting of a car door outside. It’s ridiculous. By the time my husband gets home I am truly exhausted and bordering on insane.
I called my parents and warned them that my husband would be gone for the week. I think I have them on full alert and ready to intervene at a moment’s notice. I’ll keep you posted in the next blog about any of the parenting excitement that I experience.
In the meantime, Son #3 had a football game today. He has an injury to his hand. We’ve iced it and I have it wrapped in an ace bandage. I am fully expecting that we will be going in for x-rays during my husband’s absence…I could take that scenario to a complete disaster plan right now but I know that my husband is about to travel and I have other obligations. And all of the wives out there know what this means for tonight. It’s time to end this blog, turn off the computer and go to bed to spend 15 minutes with him – before I fall asleep.
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