Life is full of ups and downs. Dark days and bright spots. Days when you feel alone and like the worst spouse/parent on the planet and days when you feel like it’s all rainbows and green lights.
When I was in the 5th grade I won my school spelling bee. I remember it clearly. The winning word was puce. More importantly, I defeated a 6th grader. That was a big deal. When I went into the school gym later, the kids cheered for me. That was a good day.
Then there was hard day when someone thoughtlessly made a hurtful comment about one of my kids and their behavior/character. It was unintentional; but I still went into a bathroom stall and cried. I felt like the absolute, worst mom ever. That was a bad day.
Good days, bad days. We all have them. An amazing day can quickly be followed by a day you’d rather just forget
A few months ago, (Though now it seems like forever and a day ago.) The Hubs left on a a 12 day trip to Israel. (I say two weeks because it’s sounds much more dramatic than 12 days. ) When your other half is gone and you are parenting solo for that long, there is bound to be some bad days.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize him being gone for 2 weeks is a drop in the bucket compared to those moms who are actual single parents. They do it alone day in and day out, every day. How about those military spouses whose partners are gone for months at a time? I am most definitely not you. You guys are amazing. You are strong and brave. My hat goes off to you.
But The Hubs had never been gone this long and definitely not while we had kids.
So as I said, The Hubs spent 2 weeks in Israel. When the opportunity came up several months ago it was a no brainer. Of course he had to go. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
As the trip drew nearer, I began to get more anxious. I began to second guess my decision. Why am I such an amazing and selfless wife to let him leave me for two weeks with two kids and two dogs?!? Amazing and selfless were his words, not mine. I was not feeling so amazing or selfless, instead I spent the days leading up to his departure fighting back tears.
//The Kiss Jar. One kiss for each day dad was gone. When the jar was empty,
dad came home//
The first week he was gone was hard. Just hard. It sucked. The calendar was full of commitments I couldn’t change. There was a lot of running around and finding sitters (or arranging drop offs with their Mimi) and just doing things alone. While the busyness of those days made the days go faster, it made for one stressed mama.
And I just missed his face.
Yes, there was a major meltdown (from child and me); the likes of which we hadn’t seen in quite some time. But what pushed me over the edge was the clogged toilet.
First, let me explain to you how often I deep clean my kid’s bathroom. Not often is the correct answer. Admitting that is really gross; but essential to the story. Well, I decided to clean that bathroom top to bottom. I scrubbed that toilet and sanitized every surface in sight. The floor was mopped and sink shiny.
And then one of my kids clogged the toilet.
And then I tried to flush when I should have plunged.
And then the toilet overflowed.
Thankfully most of the nasty stuffed had been flushed; but this murky toilet water gushed all over my newly cleaned floor.
Earlier that day The Hubs had sent me a picture of him floating in the Dead Sea. (Trust me. I see the irony here.) When I stopped to soak in how truly amazing that picture was and what a surreal experience that must be for him, for the first time I felt jealous. Up until that day I had felt nothing but happy for him.
I was holding down the fort and he was floating in the Dead Sea.
I was on my hands and knees cleaning up poo water and he was seeing and experiencing things I would have loved to see and experience.
The next day was church and though it may seem like it can’t get any worse than wading in poo water, it ended up being the worst day yet. I was just having some bad days.
One week down, One more whole, long week to go.
Monday, though, was a good. day. My girl was participating in the Spelling Bee. We had studied hard, she was stepping out of her comfort zone and we were both excited and nervous.
As we went through several rounds of words I thought, “Why are all the third graders such dang good spellers?”
The group started to thin out and it was down to one boy and my girl. At this point I was beyond proud of her. I knew she probably wouldn’t win and I was just giddy she had made it this far.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe in my girl 100%; but this other kid was a spelling machine!! Remember Drago from the Rocky movies? He was like the Drago of spelling. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t pause. Nothing was stopping this guy.
Did I mention I won the spelling bee in the 5th grade? I loved watching these kids spell. There is nothing like a good spelling bee!
There is something so heart filling about seeing your kids work hard at something and succeed, even if it’s not first place.
She got second place. (There was no stopping Spelling Drago.) We were both so excited. Her huge smile said it all. I think mine was bigger.
My string of bad days melted away. In fact, as The Hubs return came closer, ( I could count the remaining days on one hand) the days slowed down and got better, easier. I thought, “I can do this.”
So, I took away 2 pretty big lessons from my short stint as a solo parent.
First- If you think marriage is 50/50 you need to redo the math. It’s really 100/100. Sometimes, it may feel off balance like I’m going 30% and he’s doing 70% and vice versa. The Hubs has been very thoughtful and has been trying to “pay me back” for letting him go. And yes, I needed some alone time and I’ve been on a girl’s weekend since then. But marriage isn’t about keeping score or making sure things are even. He went because it was a great opportunity and he would have done the same for me if the tables had been turned. There will be times when he picks up the slack and does more in our partnership and then there will be times when I will do more. That’s called balance.
Second- I realized how I need to get away and recharge a little more. There are times when “Me Time” seems virtually non-existent. There is nothing like spending 2 weeks without a break to realize that taking some time out for yourself each week (or even each day) is not too much to ask. In fact, it’s essential. I would take time for myself and then feel guilty that I had been gone from the house for too long.
If there is something that brings you joy and fills your bucket, then do it. I’m trying to do that more. What can I give my family if my own bucket is empty?
I feared my post would come off whiny and complaining because yes, we all have bad days and we deal with it. I’m not the only one with kids who melt down, toilets that overflow or have to do bedtime alone.
I guess that’s the point, though. You aren’t alone. If you are having a really bad day or a never- ending string of bad days, you aren’t the only one. There’s another mom out there who is cleaning up poo water, too. It might just be me.