I have had days where friends or family have popped over unannounced and I have been mortified because I hadn't yet cleaned up breakfast dishes, combed my hair, or gotten the kids dressed. And I feel judged. Although, I'm sure they aren't judging...but I always assume I'm under scrutiny. Those days where the boys are acting up...and I instantly think that they see me as a spaz of a mother who's bad attitude is washing over her children. That's not the case. The truth is, you walked into our home in the middle of a long, three week shift where we are all tired, missing daddy, and feeling down. I am a little annoyed at people who presume that my kids are acting up because of me and my actions, and yes, I know 100% that parents affect their kids. But so does solo parenting. The lack of a father around the house causes more pain than you may know. And it affects MY home in a HUGE way...my husband is a devote father and husband, who rarely takes time for himself. Aside from the odd beer with friends, he does nothing. I bought him an ice-fishing shack for Christmas and its still in wrapping paper. I've told him, begged him, encouraged him to go on a trip with his buddies...he won't. So when someone who is such a positive reinforcement of love & discipline is gone, it hits us hard. The boys fall to pieces for the first four days after he's gone, as I try to get a home that had a whirlwind of a week with daddy home, back in order. When daddy is home it is all about him and the boys...we do everything together. Every. Thing. There's not much alone time for him and the kids, or for myself and him, or for just me, or just him...
The weeks he is gone are long, we struggle, but we look at it day by day, and get through it, sometimes barely, sometimes with flying colours. We have days where we excel as a little team of three, and days where we don't. Days where they boys listen and act perfectly, and days where they don't. Days where I am patient and days where I'm not. And boy do I ever feel bad when I'm not. I always feel like I'm not quite good enough...like I'm not quite doing the job and being the best mom my boys could ask for. This is where Jesse comes in...he always has the right words to say to the boys. I feel I can't quite word things the way he can. I guess that happens when you are constantly trying to talk the little people up, teach them to be kind, solve their little (big) arguments, and are working around the clock. I know that these years are short, and I try to relish in them, and take pictures, and remember funny stories they tell me, and feel their excitement, and hope that their sweet small voices will forever be etched into my memory...I try so hard to answer all the questions and pleas; why do we grow up, why do we die, where do we go, will we come back, I don't want to grow up, I always want to be your little boy...it's exhausting...and fulfilling. But that stuff takes two. I need that support, where when I'm slipping and feeling a little overwhelmed, I need that extra little push, those small words of encouragement that take a stressful, gloomy day and turn it around and make it a bright, happy day. I need to feel like I am not doing this alone. I know that I'm not "technically" doing this alone...but three weeks at a time gets lonesome and discouragement creeps up out of no where. It's overwhelming to think that I am the soul person caring for and in control of these little men, that every move, word, and step I take are plowing the way for these two little boys. That everything I do and say is moulding them into the grown men they will one day become. It is such a bright and glaring light to look in to. Every downfall and mistake I make burns me, makes me feel like I am doing them such an injustice, that they won't excel in certain things because of me, and what I couldn't provide for them. Because of what I lack. How do I teach them things that only a daddy can teach them? I feel like they are missing out on so much because I am one singular person and can't possibly be spread so far thin. And some days that is how I feel...and I have to try so hard to shake that thought, that I am not good enough. And that I deserve a break. And that I deserve to feel good about that break. I feel like I shouldn't leave their sides when Jesse is gone, because it's unfair that their daddy is gone away, so why should their mommy be away too? I went on a five day trip in February and I felt guilty the entire time. And I still do. I know how sad they are that their daddy is gone away for work, and I have to scoop them up and make them feel good about it.
I need to find some balance, and I will find it. We have been doing this for seven months, and can continue to do it. I just need to know that I have been doing this as best I can, and tripping and stumbling is normal, and its easy to get back up, wipe the dirt off and go on. I will continue to give hugs and kisses every day, I will sooth sick, scared little boys at night, I will go through days of little to no sleep, days of cleaning, grocery shopping, play school, play dates, swimming lessons, and I will do it all as best I can. And I will try not to feel an ounce of guilt when I need to picked up, dusted off and sent on my way. Being a parent is the absolute, hardest, most rewarding job out there. And if you don't have kids, you really, really will not understand. So be soft on your judgments. Be kind to little kids who are having a bad day because they cried at bedtime for their daddy to come home...they aren't bad kids. They aren't being brats. They are sad. They feel lonely for their daddy. They don't need a time out, or a spanking. They need a hug. They need to be told that its ok. That daddy will be home soon. And that they are good little people. It breaks my heart when my kids are acting out because they don't know how to express how much they miss their dad. And I have to try and remain calm, keep my frustrations at bay, and calm them down, while teaching them how to properly show emotions. That its ok to cry, it's not necessary to be mean, and that talking is the best thing you can do when you're sad. Then reaffirm all that with hugs and a long cuddle. Kids are so delicate. Why do we want to harden them?
My boys have their calendars marked for the day daddy comes home. They stand on a chair, get a pen and make an "X" and tell me its almost time. All the while, I try to make it enjoyable, productive and comfortable for them. We build forts, paint pictures, do crafts, tell stories, they have chores, we clean up, walk the dog, and just BE. We try to keep things as normal as we can while daddy is gone. And we try not to be sad that he is working away, we try to stay positive. (Not easy, but we try.)