we've gone 7 weeks without ben here with us in pittsburgh. he is in qatar.
but just this past week, he came back for a visit. we felt healing and i had moments of space where i wasn't picking up all the slack and balancing schedules and the food intake all on my own. wow does 2 adults managing a home and family feel so much different than just 1.
phew, that was nice, but very impersonal in many ways. he's here: cram in the time, but please lift all of the heavy things i can't, and spend time with your kiddos while you're here too. switching modes isn't easy and doing laundry for another does take up more time (counted in minutes, but still, it's more). we were glad for his arrival, and sad for his departure.
and yesterday, i saw audrey at her worst. THREE "un-sisterly" hair pulls coupled with a quick punch in the head. i was going about it the wrong way: first i was firm and loving, then i slapped her wrist, then i was mean. no results. but after that third time, she lost out on the bedtime story. boy did that cause some big feelings (and a hurt throat for her from all the screaming). and then she used her words (which would have been better than the hair pulling in the first place).
"i hate you mommy!"
it stung a little bit. but i was mostly at the end of myself and mostly ignored her. but there must be something else going on. why was i tearing up so easily? oh, my husband just left again and here we were, just the 3 gals on one continent without him. um, maybe audrey was feeling something like the loss of her dad and it was coming out in this oh so wrong, but i can understand, way.
and when all else seems to fail with my kids, i tell them a story about when they were little(er). so i gently picked her up into my lap, way past her bedtime, and told her about the time when she tried to catch the light in her hands when we first moved to doha. she wasn't quite one years old.
and then she told me the story about her classmate making up a story of a monster who pushed her mother off the airplane, causing the mom to break her bones. and then she follows that story up with a question: is daddy safe on the airplane?
so i said that he made his flight just fine and i suspect he's somewhere near russia, a few hours from qatar. and as far as i know, he's safe. no monsters.
she was scared. her feelings were coming out all wonky, but normal.
this leg of the absence journey between the three of us and ben will be shorter and full of family, but we miss him. we are not complete without him.
they know it. it's hard.
but there's no monster.