Well, here we are a week ago taking our photo for our Five of Us project. After church, before a birthday party, and before the Gutsy Dad's last night at home pre-BT. (Can't really call it an RLBT or even an LBT, although I suppose by normal standards seven weeks is indeed a long business trip.)
This time he is in a different place, a place that Madelyn calls Danistan.
I won't lie; this makes me nervous. His descriptions of the accommodations and lifestyle there make his previous destinations seem like first-class resorts. While it sounds dirty and gross, it does not necessarily sound dangerous. I cling to that. We can deal with dirty and gross for a quite a while, given the alternative.
I've been trying very hard to think of this as just an extended exercise and not a business trip, so I was surprised when I had to confront all the same heinous emotions as I faced before his longer trips.
That terrible pit in my stomach as the gear gets hauled out, sorted through, strewn all around our home. I hate to see it. Especially the protective gear and the gear that would be used in a defensive manner should the need arise. Of course I am glad he has all this gear; I obviously want him to be safe; but seeing all this stuff sort of ruins my usual ostrich-like mentality. I am forced to confront what my husband really does for a living, what his job requires of him. And I do NOT like to think about that.
I prefer instead to think of all the little ways he showed his love for us before he left: especially that he planted my hydrangeas for me. I see them through the kitchen window when I am at the sink.
When he left, in the wee hours of the morning last Monday, his ride came a few minutes early. I handed him his usual peanut butter toast in a paper towel, but he left his fresh mug of hot tea on the kitchen counter untouched. For whatever reason, this was heartbreaking to me. I came back into the house, cupped my hands around his warm mug, leaned my head down on the counter and just held on. I took a few sips of his tea, but I've never been a lover of tea. What to do? I couldn't bear to pour it down the drain; he had just made it! So I stuck it in the fridge. Two days later I was able to toss it without emotional trauma.
The girls and I have been faring fairly well, though already there are several tales for the annals of RLBT lore: I've had a girls night out, I've scratched up the car (unrelated to girls' night out!), I've fed my children strange combinations of food I would never feed my husband, and I've relied on two visits from my parents for help.
This morning I made it to church with the kids by myself and felt like a super hero. Then I sat in the pew listening to a fine sermon, missing the Gutsy Dad there more than anywhere else in the past week.
And here we are this week. I almost forgot our Five of Us photo (which features, for the time being, four of us), but I dragged out the tripod at story time.
These sweet little girls make me so happy. They make me crazy, too, and very tired. But also very happy. This is what it looks like when we are pretending we've got it all together.
And here's a little glimpse of reality:
Don't worry, honey. I've got everything under control.