Daddy Travel, Dead Raccoons and Talking About Hard Things...

My sweet Jeffrey has been gone for 8 days and we still have another 4 before we are reunited as a family. He returns the same day as the end of school, so we will have an emotional Friday on his return.

My Beauties have both had the best year ever and it pains me to say that, after the worries of moving them from our fantastic Catholic school. I don't have one complaint about the year, the education they received was beyond my expectations, both children have had exceptional and talented teachers. Both were so matched with folks that "got them", loved them and were able to inspire both with one of a kind learning. It is hard for me to comprehend Ian and Norah moving on to new teachers in the Fall.

As with all of Jeffrey's trips there is a calamity or two. This time is no different, Ian has been running a high fever, been out of school for 5 days and may miss this last week of school. Our pediatrician who is a phenomenal doctor says virus, but we all know it might be bacterial, and today we will make the third trip in for the holy grail of medicine: antibiotics. Please Lord, fingers crossed, please let him have a simple sinus infection. I do understand not giving out antibiotics like tic-tacs, but sometimes it would really help if we didn't have to ride every virus out until it magically turns into a bacterial infection!

As Irish luck would have it and absolutely no surprise to all the mothers out there, Miss Norah woke with the same runny nose and cough this morning. Let's just say it... Flipping fantastic!!!! You know I want to use my other favorite word here. So just say it four times in your head for me! (Thanks I needed that!) And while trying to help me, my very busy Mom fell down my steep staircase (on day two) and sprained and tore the ligaments in her foot. She is now in a Boot!

So as with most voyages on the Pilgrimage, this week it is hard! I'm tired, my pain is horrible and I'm missing Jeffrey.

My sweet friend next door asked just before Jeff left, "what makes it hard when he is gone?" And we both knew the answer.  My soul misses Jeff, I ache when he leaves. I just love being in the room with him, even when he drives me crazy and pushes my buttons.

Plus, I have 20 years of evidence that something wacky, unexpected and tricky will happen in his absence. These little hiccups, shall we say, will make the time apart harder.  From a power line hitting the house, to a raccoon getting trapped in the fireplace flue, which caused a horrid infestation of fleas in our house, (mind you we had zero pets at the time) not to mention an o'so odoriferous dead raccoon trapped in my chimney. To countless crazy illnesses, emergency room visits for both children (croup and chicken pox for Norah at 6 months), a flooded basement and a scary trip to get Jeff home in a straight drive from Mississippi to DC after 9-11. That is just the quick list of the things that happen when Jeff is away.

I don't care how much positive framing I do... Shit happens!

So, I get stressed before each of his trips. Something I have managed for better and worse over the years. This trip, I wasn't worried, 12 nights without him is the longest we have been separated since we have had the children, but I can handle it. More good news, we will do another 12 days again in September. I'm whining. Plain and simple.

I understand, because so many families handle far worse separations, but my body, well she doesn't handle changes in routine well. When I stretch two nights of less than 8 hrs sleep, my body well, she HURTS in a way that is hard to describe. Ian has had me up several nights at 3 am with a 103 degree fever, he has slept in my bed, and has needed a mother's love. Which I want to do in every way, but by 6 pm, I'm a mess, hot, tired, grumpy and my pain is not managed. And it kills me, since he is so easy when he is sick, he doesn't complain, (he does moan, which is hysterical) give my sweet Irish Prince Popsicle-Gatorade-raisin toast, and he is golden, toss in an electronic device and you only need worry when it's time for more Motrin.

The toll is evident, lots of mental fatigue that I can't explain well to folks and worse if you are trying to help me like my poor mom has been want to do! I'm not my best self.

Which gets me back to the Beauties, I try to be honest about how difficult Dad's trips are for me as I know it is for them.  From the logistics of administering my four needles early in the am, to not having backup for all of life's stuff.  I don't like it one bit, and I give the children permission to not like it too!

It's scary for them to be left with the "sick one" as parent-in-charge, to know that Dad isn't right around the corner as usual...  When he travels, they don't have that extra security. It is so important for me to be independent when Jeff travels, I really don't like my Mother staying with us for more than a day or two because in my mind it just feeds the children's narrative.  

That Mom can't do it. 

These times are especially hard for me, because I don't like to see my own shortcomings, my weaknesses exposed. AND I certainly don't like it that my Beauties are nervous because of them.

So as hard as it is for me... I shine the light on them, I say, "Well as much as I would like to do x, my batteries are not going to let that happen" OR talk about not putting myself in risky behaviors that could make it harder for me in the long run. Like going to the movie theater which are generally too cold. But, On Demand an overpriced movie? Absolutely.  I feel great about driving through any disgusting fast food restaurant they want for dinner!

I always say that I'm tired as opposed to sick. Tired is something you can process, sick is far scarier. But, I feel for my Mom who looks at her "baby" and sees me struggle, what parent can sit on the sidelines and watch that. So my Mom and I work on balance, we are two feisty independent women so that always calls for lots of me apologizing (for my shortness, frustration and fatigue) and remembering she is here to help me... as much as I fight her!

We do have special treats that only happen when Dad travels, like cereal for dinner, ice cream at anytime, eating in front of the TV, extra stinky no shower days. All these little gems make my life easier. 

And hopefully, they take away the sting of missing Dad, a tiny bit.

So that is the recap on this extraordinary week... It is a doozy here.

But, we will cross off another day on the chalkboard and cheer when the train arrives at Union Station, Friday at 6.

Until then, please keep me in your prayers...

Much love.



Photo credit: PilgrimageGal