Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When He's Gone

I’m no stranger to being home alone.  I guess that’s the up side to spending so much time apart from Jason.  When the husband travels, the wife knows what to do.  Anymore I rarely lay in bed jumping at every noise and missing that warm body beside me.  The stormy waters of afternoon-to-evening - when your sweet child turns into some kind of frothing Gremlin - I can usually navigate safely, arriving at bedtime with both kid and mommy mostly intact.  And I can go from cooking nightly dinners down to quick little healthy meals in a snap.  Yup. I can do the home alone thing.

I guess the big home alone test is when your military hubby is mobilized.  Once a wife makes it through that, she figures she can make it through anything.  Oh sure, it’s not like she loves having him gone, even after she's survived mobilization.  She really doesn’t ever completely enjoy being without him.  But she can reach back into her mind and say, “Man, I made it through THAT.  I can make it through this no sweat.”  And she’s off.

So, what’s to do when the husband is gone?  Well, my preference is to turn it into an adventure - especially now that my Sweetheart is old enough to partake in said adventure.  The first day he’s gone I sit down and make my lists.  I do love lists.  I’ve been known to add “Make List” to a previously existing list.  Hey, don’t knock it til you try it.  Scratching something off a list is incredibly rewarding.  But I digress. 

I sit down that first day and make a list of Need To Do’s and Want To Do’s.  The Want To Do’s are, of course, the most important.  Things on my Want To Do’s usually include projects I’ve been working on for a hundred years (and keep hidden from the husband), buffing and repainting the toenails, and some sort of waxing. 

I also add big things to my NEED To Do’s, just to keep them interesting.  You see, the point of all this is to make the week that the husband is gone into something different.  Something unusual.  Fulfilling.  Rewarding.  Special.  So “Give Sweetheart First Hair Cut by Mommie” is added to the NEED To Do list.  So is “Make Cookies with the Sweetheart.”  Several decorating tasks also make the list.  “Fix the Cat” is added this time around.   See, it doesn’t all have to be something fun and enjoyable, big tasks that need getting done are prime for the list.  You know - those tasks that are often pushed to the back burner where they sit, simmering, for far too long and start to turn into messy, boiling ORDEALS.  Then when the week is done, I can look back on it and - with some coquettish bragging to Jason –say, look what I did when Husband was gone.  Go me.

Another trick of mine is to get special food.  Nothing outrageous.  I mean, sometimes I’ll make some special recipes, especially from Pioneer Woman’s Cowgirl Food recipes.  Have you ever tried out her most favorite salad ever ever-ever-ever recipe?  Oh my goodness.  Salad heaven!  But I didn’t do that this time.  (Although now I’m starting to regret that.)  I’ll make things Jason either doesn’t care for or really shouldn’t eat.  (Although, my husband will eat just about anything, so I don’t have a lot in that “doesn’t care for” category.)  I’ll eat things that wouldn’t fill him up unless he ate several pounds of it.  Sourdough bread with EVOO and balsamic vinegar, maybe some goat cheese.  Random snacks of avocados, Roma tomatoes, and whole wheat tortillas.  Angel hair pasta dishes.  Those little meals most men scoff at.  That’s what I like.  This time I got some boxes of vanilla pudding – NOT the instant kind – to cook and revel in.  I knew the Sweetheart would love it.  And boy, I do too. 

I’ll also go to bed early.  Really early.  Well, after the kiddo’s asleep, of course.   Can’t fall asleep before the 4-year-old.  Or I won’t go to bed early.  I might stay up.  Late.  Really late.  Reading.  Writing stories.  Getting wrapped up in those worlds I weave in my mind, with characters and plots and all kinds of intricate storylines fraught with dramatic climaxes and humorous conundrums.  But then, of course, I pay the price the next day with the up-and-at-‘em kiddo.  So the staying up late isn’t as enticing as it once was.  But the point is that if I want to, I CAN.

When he’s gone, my time is my own.  I eat what I want, when I want, or maybe I don’t eat at all.  I may go to bed early, or maybe I won’t.  I can slack on laundry – as long as the Sweetheart and I have what we need.  I may not make my bed (okay, that’s a lie – I always have to have my bed made.  Even if the room’s a hurricane victim, the bed - snappy).  These are the things I focus on.  And before I know it, the week has gone by.  Husband and Daddy is safely back home.  Meals are made.  Bedtimes are abided by.  And I no longer have to remember not to miss that warm body beside me.


heather said...

♥ this post. Probably because I can really relate.

When my hubby is gone I tend to tackle all manner of projects. It feels good to accomplish something. And I am really big into preparing foods that I wouldn't probably make if he were home.

So while I miss him so very much when he is gone. I have learned to use that time to pursue my own interests and and to enjoy a shift from the normal routine.

Anonymous said...

My husband isn't in the military - but he has traveled most of our marriage - increasingly in the past 10 years until last year he was out of the country more than in. I have lived what you talk about. You live differently when you're the one holding the fort - the little guys always slept with me when he was gone:)I also discovered that after a trip of 3+ days, there is an adjustment period of about 48 hours when they return - I guess it's difficult to share running the fort then:)

However, this year we went out on our own with our own business. Our home is our office - and our warehouse is our factory. I am loving it - but it is a totally new life. No more little guys sleeping with me, too!

I'm going to make a list for next week - set goals with my sons like you did. I think that will give me a mom-sense of success which is difficult to find when you have teens.

It's nice to read someone's story and how they handle things are not so different from mine. SShhhhh - don't tell my boys. They think there's nobody out there like me - LOL - and they don't mean a compliment:) But that's how teens are:)

Jen Rouse said...

I do the same things you do--the meals that I adore but he wouldn't, the either going to bed early or staying up really late, the tackling big projects. My goal is always to get SO MUCH done when he's gone that he'll be super-impressed when he returns. Why I feel that need, I don't know. Now that he's not traveling much, I actually find myself thinking things like, "When am I EVER going to finish painting the dresser?" Because I started the project on his last trip two months ago and haven't ever gotten around to finishing it up!