This week Brandon will board a plane in Tashkent. That plane will fly to Korea, where he will wait nine hours before boarding a plane to Toronto. Thirteen hours later, after nearly flying over the North Pole, Brandon will be on the same continent as we are. After that, it's only a short hop down to Raleigh, where I will be eagerly awaiting him at the airport (the children will be asleep. Thank heaven for children old enough to watch themselves).
I can't say that our five and a half weeks apart has been terrible. Surprisingly, I've been able to homeschool, grocery shop, keep the house clean, and mother the children entirely on my own without completely losing it. I've always been secretly afraid that if I were ever dropped off in the States without the aid of household help, I wouldn't be able to actually adult successfully. After all, it's been a full decade since I cleaned my own toilet.
I've been somewhat shocked to discover that I am a Real Girl after all and can do all those things that my brave America-living counterparts do as a routine part of your lives with nary a housekeeper in sight. And not only have I done those things, I've done them while being very pregnant and a single mother. It's cheering when you discover that you have more abilities than you credited yourself for.
I can't say that I've done things up to the highest standard, however. Our weekly menu has a dedicated breakfast-for-dinner night in addition to frozen-food night. And there might have been a few busy nights where cold cereal counted as a meal (of course, this won me highest acclaim in the under-thirty-seven population of our household).
Story time has been hit or miss, depending on how tired I've felt. One night Eleanor asked me to tell her a story - Brandon is the storyteller in our family and makes up wonderful stories about Eleanor, Space Donkey, and their extra-planetary adventurers. When I came up with the shortest story I could think of, she folded her arms and pouted, "Mom, you tell terrible stories." It had been a long day, so I shot back, "Well, I'm all out of talking. If I had children that listened to me the first time I asked them to do something, instead of making me asking them ten times, maybe I would have some words left to use for stories. But I don't and I spend all day telling everyone to do things over and over and over again, so my stories are indeed terrible."
I'm somewhat surprised that the neighbors have not called CPS on me yet, as most days William can be spotted wandering around the yard in just his underwear. Joseph has taken to climbing trees and yelling at the neighbors across the street as they play with their children in the yard, calling out our life story to anyone who would care to listen. I'm constantly leaving most of them home alone while I take one child or another to one more doctor's appointment. And, of course, someone always starts screaming at some point every single day during afternoon outside play time.
So yes, nobody has died. But we also haven't devolved into total chaos while living in our own filth (an my toilet has been cleaned almost every week), so I count my single-parenting time here as an overall win.
But it will be very nice have two parents to mind the food and conversation (and maybe even start reading scriptures again) at the breakfast table Friday morning, and two voices to encourage the children to stop fighting, and two sets of hands to make and clean up dinner. My hat is off to those of you who do this full-time or on a regular basis. Life is much easier with two adults running the monkey circus.
But even more than having another set of hands around, I'm just looking forward to being together with Brandon again. We try and talk several times a day, but a phone call is no replacement for having your husband there. I've realized (again), that I just don't do well alone. I may have six children surrounding me, but I'm still alone when I need real conversation that isn't punctuated by repeated commands to eat something or clean something or leave someone alone. Thankfully, time with friends and family has kept me from completely losing it (and how grateful I am to have friends and family who will keep me sane), but I'm so glad that my best friend will be showing up this week. I can hardly wait.