January 29, 2010

Bad Attitude.

You know, it is funny how the online world works--just when you need a whisper from God you can get it from a blog!  What a blessing to be able to get advice from wonderful, experienced mothers when often in our own real-life worlds there are few others going through the same things.  Which is why this post and this spoke to me so deeply.  My husband has been out of town every other week since the new year and I have been having a bad attitude about it.  Yes, this is his job.  Yes, I was feeling slightly entitled, I think, because he had been home for such a long stretch before the holidays.  Yes, it has been a hard several weeks with sad kids, cranky toddlers, a fussy baby and way.too.much.on.my.plate.  Yes, it is hard being home alone with the kids and your spouse is away.  No one takes the place of daddy.  No one.

But, nonetheless, I wasn't helping matters with my attitude.  It smacked me in the face this last trip when my oldest son started fussing about Ken leaving and my husband said to him, "Cheer up.  It doesn't help matters for any of us to have a bad attitude."  Well, he should have said it to me a long time ago.  But, being the kind and loving husband that he is--he didn't.

And, in the midst of frustration with the current chaos of my life, I was missing out.  Missing an opportunity to really be with my children and to take joy in them.  So, I reminded myself that this, too, shall pass.

My key points for how to survive with a travelling spouse:
  • Stay home.  My kids need the stability of being home.  No errands, nothing out of the bare minimum requirements.  We went to visit the Grandparents one evening (which is normally lovely) and it was awful.  Largely because I wasn't really thinking about it--it was late, everybody had reached their maximum daddy neediness, etc. etc.
  • Be prepared with food.  I have to have convenience foods on hand.  Things that can be popped in the oven with one hand while holding a baby and the two-year old tries to wrestle me into putting juice in her sippy cup.   Frozen french-fries, chicken nuggets, casseroles and pizza dough made ahead of time.  This is not the time to try new recipes or force the kids to eat foods they don't like.  Save your own sanity.
  • Be prepared with essentials--diapers, medicines, laundry detergent, whatever.  I remember having a little one with a high fever once when Ken was gone and having to ask a neighbor to sit with my kids before she went to work so I could get Tylenol.  Not good to leave a neighbor with your sick, sad children because you were unprepared!  Thank God for good neighbors!
  • Be prepared with something fun.  Yet doable.  It probably isn't a good idea to go wearing yourself out at the zoo all day the first day your spouse is gone.  You know that the baby won't sleep that night and you'll be grumpy and tired all the next day.  Yet, maybe it would be fun to invite over some friends.  Plan an easy, no cleanup craft or a movie night.  Sometimes, something simple can be made into big fun.
  • Go easy on yourself.  Its okay if the house is a mess until your husband gets home and can help you clean it.  There have been seasons (such as when I'm expecting and really sick or with a newborn) when my husband has kindly cleaned the house before he left and cleaned it when he got home.  There are times when you can't keep up with the house AND meet the needs of your children.  Its also okay if not much schoolwork gets done because you have a sick baby (or others) and the best you can do is sit on the couch and hold them.
I think, as in all things, it is best to keep peace in your home rather than try to accomplish too much.  Our jobs as mothers is to really block out the temptation to try to keep up with what the world says we should do.  We must be thankful for this wonderful vocation we have been given, thankful for our husbands who work so hard for our families, and delight in our children even when it seems our burdens are great. 

Now, I must go post my list on the fridge for myself!!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

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