Okay, I will admit it loudly and proudly. There are days when the countdown to Daddy coming home are definitely on. These days range from everything from two children who fight all day long and no amount of time-out or other punishments will cure to days like today. When I wake up before Daddy has even left with a sinus headache so bad that the sinus over my left eye is visibly swollen. (And by visibly swollen I mean when the two-year-old comes up and touches it (OUCH!) and says, “Mama have big boo-boo on eye.”)
Then there are days when we just miss Daddy. Days when over and over I am asked, “Where Daddy go?” Or when someone is being disciplined, “Not want Mama, want Daddy!” Trust me, in those moments, Mama misses Daddy as much as the child does.
I love my children. I treasure my time with them. Especially my time one on one, but I have deep respect and value for their father and their relationship with them. Daddy allows children to ride on his back like a horse. Daddy plays games that include loud, high-pitched, ear-shattering screeches. Daddy allows late bedtimes. Daddy is the “fun parent.”
But as the “fun parent” Daddy has also learned to respect what I do day-in and day-out: the 15 million questions I have to answer about anything from bodily functions to why we shouldn’t be mean to each other; the thousands of little messes I clean up from potty accidents, food fights and science experiments conducted in secret run amok; and the kisses for hurt bodies and feelings.
Having Jeff gone during the week during the school year (and during the day in the summer) is insanely difficult at times. Having to juggle school work for one with a dentist appointment for another and making sure the dogs are fed and knowing it will not get done if I am not the one who does it is pretty exhausting. And stressful. Last year when I dislocated my kneecap after dinner one night, I called Jeff to let him know but told him not to worry about coming home that night. And somehow, in agonizing pain and with limited mobility, I got Shelby to school the next day and kept the boys on schedule.
But, as I tell anyone who asks, this difficult time of us being in different places when we want to be together, has its advantages. By Friday night, when Daddy gets home, the kids are sick of me and want their Daddy and he has missed them all week and is ready to take full charge of them. And I am exhausted and more than willing to comply with everyone in the interest of being able to use the bathroom uninterrupted and maybe a thirty minute nap.
I have no idea how single parents balance and juggle all the needs to two parents or how parents endure longer breaks (ie military deployments). I do not think I would ever be capable of that kind of “extreme parenting.”
The countdown isn’t on in our house because the kids and I don’t enjoy each others’ company or that we are constantly on each others’ nerves but because we value who Daddy is and what he brings to the table that I cannot. It’s a gift that I could never duplicate for my kids and am eternally grateful they have.