Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mommying when Daddy Isn't Home

Many mom's find themselves home overnight with the kids while dad is gone for work.  Whether its an overnight trip, a weeklong trip, or a year-long deployment, the struggles are all the same! 

Before my husband left for his deployment, I found myself psyching myself up so I wouldn't worry.  And then, when I thought it was all good, I'd wake up in the middle of the night in a dead panic.  What in the world have we gotten ourselves into???  How am I going to care for 3 kids under 3 for six and half months...by myself? 

As we got closer to his 'deploy date', we did more things to prepare myself and my children.  We made a countdown calendar for the wall, a 'kisses from dad' jar, build-a-bear stuffed animals with a voice recording, and my husband recorded a book on video for every week that he would be gone. 

Aside from the obvious fact that you are now playing BOTH roles and have no back-ups, I had to come face to face with the things that I do, as a mother, that have ADVERSE results.  Let me tell you, thats humbling.  My shortcomings became obvious almost immediately and I needed to figure it out if I wanted things to run smoothly.  This was my first lesson.

Secondly, I realized that my son needed 'boy time'.  That meant, finding things that he could do, away from his sisters, that really played into being a boy!  He needed to get dirty, be competitive, and show his 'manly' side.  Yes, believe it or not, a three year old boy DOES have a manly side.  So, I started asking any guy friends that I had to come over and play...ANYTHING.  Throw the baseball, wrestle, go fishing.  Whatever made his little boy heart content.  Once I started acknowledging that boys and girls have different needs and that, innately, I couldn't satisfy all of my sons needs, his general attitude got better. 

And lastly, I learned how important it is to take a break.  Depending on the length of dad's trip, breaks equate to different things.  Whether its going to dinner alone or taking a full 24 hours away from the kids, it is necessary.  What we don't realize at the time is that stress has a tendancy to build up and we don't know we are losing it until we are just about to or already have lost it!  It's important to address this on an ongoing basis instead of a 'rescue me, I'm sinking' basis. 

So, when it comes down to it, my concerns about my kids during my husbands time away had nothing to do with them but, rather, EVERYTHING to do with me as a mom!  The power, more or less, is in my hands and I could make or break this whole experience.  And no matter HOW long your husband is gone, don't shortchange yourself, doing this alone is HARD, and it's okay to admit it!

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