This month started with Marleigh sharing my bed with me while JR was away in Kenya and it is ending with all four of us in the same bed by the time the alarm goes off each morning. Add in some musical bed playing and as I am sure you have guessed, we are all more irritable, tired, and weary this month.
JR’s flights to Kenya began early on February 1 so we decided rather than trying to get up crazy early to drive to Little Rock, we would just spend the night with my family who live nearby. This way we did not need to figure out childcare arrangements and the kids could see him off. It felt like a good teachable moment. Marleigh asked some good questions and wanted to watch JR until we could not see him anymore. On the way back to my aunt’s house, she kept saying she could see Daddy’s plane in the sky (despite the fact it was not set to take off for another two hours) so it was precious. We spent most of the day with my aunt making pancakes and watching Animal Planet. Marleigh had the best time. We left for home with enough time for a Target run and to get Mar to dance class. We were able to FaceTime JR for about 10 minutes before his flight from Newark to Zurich departed. As soon as that phone call ended, I went straight into single parent mode. I say this somewhat lightly because I have a village of people who are gracious to step in when possible, but taking on JR’s family duties in addition to my own definitely was not a small task.
We survived by getting up an hour earlier, dropping Baylor off at daycare in Jonesboro, driving to preschool in Paragould, and then I would go wherever my schedule required for the day (I’m currently teaching classes in three locations), work my job, and pick them up from school or from family members, feed them something, baths, stories, and bed. I threw in a lot of evening activities to make the days go by faster and for less friction. My logic was “if they are busy, they can’t miss him, so they can’t act out, and they’ll sleep better.” This logic worked for one of them….ironically the baby. He was a blessing and slept his crib that week. As promised whenever JR goes out of the country, Mar sleeps with me. It is a special and fun tradition.
About 3/4ths of the way into the trip, JR calls me to tell me that he is sick. From the sound of it, this was something he could have easily overcome had he just had the amenities we are so blessed with in our country. As a result, I made him go to the ER as soon as we got home. After a bag of fluids, he was good to go!
In hindsight, I felt many emotions that week. I felt overwhelmed and tired (obviously), frustrated at my children for their elevated emotions (probably not entirely their faults), and a little resentment if I am honest. JR and I were engaged when we went to Nicaragua for the first time. We have been together twice, but since having children, I have not been back. I have been so used to being the person who goes that I occasionally struggle knowing it is my season to stay. I am not angry because I am not “the goer,” believe me when I understand that my mission field is my children. My resentment began when I felt that people were not giving me any credit in being “the sender.” Everyone is always so excited about the person who is going and experiencing new adventures, but hardly anyone wants to know how the sender is trying to keep it all together back home. I wanted someone to notice my hard work too….I needed to be seen. I now realize that I was seen. The two little people who rely on me for everything saw me. No one else’s thoughts, comments, or opinions should have mattered. God also noticed.
In this season of my life, I often wonder if He thinks I am ever going to come around other than the nighttime prayers and bedtime Bible stories. I was reminded today that those prayers and stories are an integral part of Marleigh’s faith. They are how she communicates with Him. He said to “let the little children come to me,” “to have faith like a child,” etc. This season does not allow me an hour-long devotion with Bible readings and intense journaling, but I am fervently seeking His will for my life, for the lives of my children, and for my husband’s calling. I am looking for him in small things. I am teaching my children His word and how to pray. This season I am seeking him with more childlike faith. This reminder left me in tears as I was driving to work, but it was so freeing to not feel so trapped in my “perfect Christian quiet time expectations box.”
This month has been a blur. Other than the Kenya trip, we have experienced sickness and sacrifices. Some wanted, some needed, and some I am still fighting to hold onto despite knowing it is a losing battle. TRUST. SURRENDER. OBEY. Transitions for a new job for JR are about to occur. New opportunities are coming.
And despite all our greatest efforts to put them in their own beds, both children end up in our bed before the night is over. Marleigh’s argument to this is that she needs “real humans” to comfort her. I sleep very little these days, my mind will not shut off, I am nursing a baby, or I am struggling to find a few inches of bed to get comfortable. I know this season will not last forever, but I am not above bribing them to sleep in their own beds….even if it means giving them a puppy.