Monday, April 18, 2011

Time Away

I spent some time away from my crew this past weekend. Jon had encouraged me to go to an event Saturday morning and volunteered to watch our kids. I got up early, making sure to prepare in advance for the day here at home, hoping that things would go smoothly while I was away. Half dressed and half in my pajamas, I made sure the kids tended to their morning jobs, I prepped breakfast, unloaded the dishwasher, and braided Olivia's hair. I was running late, but there always seemed to be more that I should do before I relinquished control.

Yep. I think I have a control issue. Several times throughout the day I had to remind myself that a dad is meant to be a dad, not a mom. And dads are not homemakers. They have strength moms don't have, and they bring a completely different set of skills to the table. This is good and exactly the way it was meant to be. Parents work as a team and they complement each other.

But I think most mothers would understand when I say that the house often looks like a dad bomb goes off when I am away for any duration of time. How does the house go from clean and tidy to dirty and chaotic in such a short amount of time? Does everyone forget what to do? Is it a free-for-all? How in the world do the kids get so crusty?

On my way out, I wondered if it's all worth it: The work involved in preparing, the concern while away, and then the recovery/work once home.

But I think we all need a little break now and then. Everyone needs time to recharge and a chance to gain fresh perspective, a change of scenery, or a time to relax. Really, I'm not as indispensable as I would like to think.

On my way home several hours later I prayed that no matter what the condition of the house or the children, or how I was greeted, or how surprised I might be by the unexpected that awaited... I prayed that I would come home with a cheerful disposition and a thankful attitude. That's the kind of wife and mother I want to be, no matter how discouraged I may feel. And I am fully aware that I can't always be that kind of woman without supernatural strength. It does no good to arrive with a critical spirit, or to expect that anyone should give time to unwind. I want them all to know that I am happy to see them, rather than put out because of what they did or didn't do.

When I arrived home there were bikes and scooters and toys outside, but no children. Jon's truck was there, so I figured they must be inside. Inside, however, it was so quiet. I could hear a couple flies buzzing against the windows, proving that the doors had been left open. Dirty bowls and cereal boxes were on the counter. I tried hard not to look for things that were "wrong" or substandard.

For a moment or two, an unsettled feeling of not knowing where everyone was crept over me. Then I was thankful that the temptations I expected were little, and thankful for a moment of quiet to change out of dress clothes and to grab a bite to eat. Within a few minutes I noticed that everyone was playing in the pool across the street, and I was so relieved that Jon was able to take everyone despite his normal Saturday workload.

The kids were having a blast and playing so well together. Several times I heard the kids say they wished every day was as much fun, comments I chose to be thankful for and not offended by! We all got a little sun, too. In fact, some got too much sun because no one got sunscreen until I arrived. I guess moms think of those details more than dads.

I am thankful for Jon. He views time away as valuable for me and he is often looking for opportunities to send me out for coffee, or  to shop, or whatever. I love that he cares for me in this way. The truth is, my favorite place to be is at home. Last week he messaged me while I was at the dentist and told me to take my time and do something on my own before coming home. Since my errands for the week were complete, I opted to come home because that's where I love being the most. I love being with him and our kids, I love getting things done in and around the house, and I love being at home when no one else is.


We have a Meyer lemon tree which produces so much fruit. It's in bloom now and the fragrance is out of this world. The trouble is I have had difficulty knowing how to use these lemons. Regular, tart lemons are a staple in my kitchen, and Meyer lemon simply don't make a good substitution. Every time that I've tried, its been a disappointment. At long last, I have finally discovered something that works great: Mango Lemonade. It's the perfect thing to offer when everyone has been working in the yard, or to casually sip in the afternoon. Olivia and I made some last week for Michael after he spent a good chunk of time mowing the lawn. He is so proud that Jon is trusting him with this job, and we wanted him to know we are too.

And just for my own sake - because I want to remember - this is how I found everyone Friday afternoon:

Olivia often reads to the boys, and on this particular day I was getting things set to take them to see an IMAX film. I figured Jack would take a nap on the way, but he didn't quite make it till we left. Even after Olivia moved and repositioned him, he slept soundly until I carried him out to the car.

I just love that little face.


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