Admittedly, I do not spend much time reading blogs, outside of those written by my friends, let alone randomly commenting on the content of them, but I recently read a blog post on modernmom.com, (5000 dinners) that spurred me to comment and also write this post.
As a military wife to a hubby that is gone 200+ days a year and mother of 4 children, age 5 and under, I know all to well the challenges of caring for children without my partner. Having cared for children ailing from the stomach flu while I battled it myself just this week while Zach has been on a trip, I know that some days can be downright miserable! I get tired of cooking every meal, cleaning up every mess and changing every diaper! Let's face it, much of what I do is not glamorous... AT ALL! In fact, it is so tedious, sometimes I could (and do) cry. Not to say, "Poor me," but I think every mom has felt this way at one time or another.
I find myself fighting the urge to resent my husband's "freedom." Oh to be able to say, "I'm leaving Tuesday and will be back ten days later," and know that not only will the children be cared for in my absence without having to give any instructions or payment to anyone, I will return to happy kids, a tidy house and clean laundry. Wouldn't it be nice to workout when I want to, eat meals that are prepared for me, and go to bed at my leisure in a room that was cleaned for me while I was away for the day?! However, I need to remind myself that this is not all that makes up Zach's time spent away. He is also often working long, tiring days, dealing with issues and solving problems that you couldn't pay me enough to take on. He risks his safety in the name of defending freedom for those that are unwilling to. He misses me and the kids, and often, must share in milestones, like seeing Francesca take her first steps or Eva crawl for the first time by viewing a movie that I have emailed to him. He must comfort me in moments of sadness or frustration through a phone conversation, when all he really wants to do is hold me. He must express his enthusiasm over daily "joys" like a new belt in Tae Kwan Do for Asher or a stunning ballet performance by Sophia via Skype. This is no picnic for him.
After reading this blog post, I realize, yet again, how blessed I truly am. For all that he can't be here for, Zach does a great job when he is home to share in the work of the home and the raising of our children. He often thanks me for all that I do. He frequently tells the kids that, "Mommy is the best part of our family." While I don't necessarily agree, I do appreciate the praise! He models ways for the kids to express their gratitude for the ways I care for them. "Mommy will know you are thankful for this meal if you clean your plate." "Mommy works hard to keep our clothes clean. Have you thanked her today?"
The author of this particular blog ends her post by stating that she has prepared her family roughly 5000 dinners and her husband has prepared a mere 26. I am not judging her, I mean, don't we all have a tendency to want to "keep score"?! But, in the end, marriage is not a competition; it is a partnership. I cannot control Zach's absence or presence in our home, nor can I control how much he shares in the responsibilities of the home when he is here. Furthermore, while I can express a desire to receive thanks, I cannot control how frequently he thanks me for what I do. What I can control is my attitude while I care for my family. I can take it as a compliment, that Zach can leave for days, weeks, and sometimes months and not seem to notice my daily struggles in our home, because he has so much confidence in my ability and feels I am handling things so well in his absence. And finally, I can be grateful and thankful for all that he does that I have absolutely no idea about, the countless moments he misses out on and doesn't complain about, and the long days he works tirelessly to provide financially for our family. Love may be a game of give and take, but marriage is not a competition. No one has to lose, and that's pretty cool!