Right now Brandon's in the Ankara airport, waiting to go to Istanbul so that he can get on a plane and come to Baku - at 3 am tomorrow morning - and rescue me from the six days of single parenthood I've had to endure while he's been gone.
All things considered - considering that braver women than me with more children than me do this longer than I've had to do it - it hasn't been too bad. Not that I'm asking for any more separation, but I can confidently say that no children have been harmed in their father's absence and today when I went to go find Edwin during dinner and discovered him busily cleaning up an amazing large puddle of pee on the floor, I didn't even yell at him. I'm not sure if that is a sign of my emerging ability to handle being the person who has cleaned up every mess, changed every diaper, spanked every bottom, led every prayer, and read every book, or just because I've run out of energy to yell.
I've tried to keep the time while he's been gone fairly full of things to keep us all busy while he's been gone - today we went swimming with friends, yesterday some other friends came over to play, on Sunday we had church, and Saturday afternoon we attended the embassy holiday party.
When I told Brandon that I was planning on attending the party, all by myself, with all four children he asked if I insane or just overly optimistic about the behavior of our children at public events. I shrugged in response. "What else are we going to do? At least we can get out of the house and spend a few hours in a place that has unlimited cookies." In the middle of the party as I was trying to shepherd Edwin and Sophia clutching heaped plates of cookies through crowds while holding their glasses of lurid-green apple juices sufficiently far away from the one year-old strapped to my front so that he couldn't grab them, I reconsidered my plan. It was fun to see friends, however, and I got to enjoy the pity of being stranded - with all four children! - for a week by myself.
The week previous to Brandon's departure, I made sure to cook dinners with larger leftover-potential and so have managed to cook only one meal - pizza - the entire time he's been gone. Luckily we've had a large variety of leftovers, so the children have been fairly patient, but today Kathleen asked hopefully if I would be cooking dinner tomorrow. Yes, I assured her, there would be hot food tomorrow since Daddy will be here.
I've also made liberal use of movies, feeding everyone dinner at five, and then sending them upstairs to watch movies until bedtime while I work on Sophia' christmas present, a tutu. Since Kathleen can read and turn on movies, I just let them loose and they choose whatever they can agree on for the night. Deep in the throes of gathering and sewing tulle Saturday night, I wandered upstairs to find them all sitting in the completely dark toy room, lined up on chairs placed as close as possible to the computer screen. They were in the middle of some Rankin-Bass Christmas special (abomination), so I told them when it was done, they should go downstairs and go to bed.
But everyone needs a little neglect now and then, right?
Thankfully, however, the weeklong-feast of leftovers and movies comes to an end tomorrow and we can return to normal lives that include things like family interaction and hot meals and both parents and mom being much more cheerful.
I'm not sure how you other ladies, the superpower-posessing ones, do it.