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I’m grumpy. Which figures, since yesterday I was congratulating myself for being so patient, so courageous, so compassionate. Yay, me. I’m such an amazing mom. I’m such an incredible wife. My family is so blessed to have me.

Yeah, right.

So we went to Nathan’s preschool spring program last night, which was adorable, and – as Michael aptly noted – it was our first preschool program without a stroller. Small victories! The happy and hands-free couple sat with their two elder children to watch a stage-full of precocious 4 year olds scream “OUR GOD IS A GREAT BIG GOD!”

Except that we maybe could have used a stroller. Or some other type of restraining device. Elder children were picking and arguing and shoving. Mostly the younger of the elder two.

Then when we exited the auditorium to collect the youngest cherub, the energy and inability to obey were completely unleashed.

Why can my children not stand quietly instead of running around like wild monkeys while in public?

And why, when we returned home, can they not just do as they are told? The first time? And stay in bed? And go to sleep at a decent hour?

Which would not be such a big deal if my husband were not leaving this weekend for a nine-day stint in Vietnam. Saving the world one eyeball at a time.

The big kids’ school open house is next week while he’s gone. I’m thinking: No. Friggin’. Way.

I’m grouchy. And I’m a wimp. A big ol’ grouchy wimp.

You might recall that during Michael’s last trip to Vietnam, Nathan ended up with three staples in his head. I did not emerge from that trip unscathed. It did not go well.

I thought I was better prepared this time. I was all set to be supportive and understanding. I know that my job in this is to keep the family intact and the household running smoothly so that he is free to go save the world.

I overestimated myself.

I seem to recall his first trip that went really, really well at home. I seem to recall a complete empowering from God to do what I needed to do with a smile on my face.

Also known as G-R-A-C-E.

Needin’ some of that. In large measure.

So between now and Sunday night, I need to get over myself and get on my face and BEG for the grace not to kill my children and spend the entire week in bed, cowering from the reality of temporary single motherhood.

Let me say here that I know many of you have husbands that travel often, and I absolutely applaud you. Please let me know how you handle it – because I am not doing a very good job. I know there are some of you who might be full-time single moms, and wow, you are my heroes. Please share your wisdom.

I highly value authenticity – and I am authentically grouchy. And angry. And overwhelmed. Oh, how I want to cuss. (I’ll keep that in my head. At least until I talk to Gretchen on the phone and vent – loudly – to her.)

OK. I almost feel better. I’m off to Costco now. You know – the happiest place on earth. Think I’m needing me some retail therapy.


6 thoughts on “Humph.

  1. Not that I ever feel equipped to give advice, yet I still feel compelled nonetheless. My husband travels a lot, until recent months he was consistently gone Tuesday-Thursday of every week. As a mom of five, those days are always a challenge. Sometimes I feel very empowered only to get out into public and wonder what I was thinking. Other times I just say to myself “it’s only an hour trip”. Do what you can and don’t beat yourself up over what you can’t. Our abilities change from day to day, mood to mood. There will always be another open house, another party or another “something”. We can’t do it all and there should be no shame in it. When we do something great we should congratulate ourselves and when we have a bad day we too should give that a voice. There is nothing wrong with saying things seem to go better with our significant other, after all that should be one of the reasons we picked them right? Ok, I guess there really wasn’t any advice just my exhausted two cents. I hope all goes well while your husband is away.

  2. Jen–I saw you called and I am going to call you back right after I write this. I am writing and not just talking to you this time so you can come back and look at it whenever you need a boost!First of all, I love you, your kids love you, MY kids love you, your dear husband loves you! Nobody expects as much from you as you do from yourself! Though we know they don’t often show it–your kids appreciate you! You know I struggle with this daily! Last night I had a peace and calmness come over me that I haven’t felt with my children for a while. As you know, BJ is gone. Last night was Christian’s last basketball game and Daddy never made it to one and Mommy only made it to two. Our dear babysitter endured the rest and really got the brunt of Christian’s bad attitude about the circumstances. I’ve been dealing with him and this over the past few weeks as he has acted out toward our very patient, sweet and loving babysitter. Each week I have thought that we had gotten through to him. We’ve tried to be loving and understanding that the situation stinks a little bit for him. However we are trying to raise a kind, loving young man. As I talked to Lisa, the babysitter, last night she told me he appologized for his behavior yet still whenever she asked him to do something he would say “No, I don’t want to.” Hmmmmm…. He wandered downstairs as I was talking to her. BUSTED! But you know, I felt compassion for him but also a need to firmly express my expectations of him and his behavior for the future–with Lisa right there. I was a calm mom this time. She told me as I walked her out that most parents just don’t care and wouldn’t do anything about it. She said that most parents don’t even ask how the evening went! I told her that respect is very important in our eyes and that when we are not there and we place our children in her hands that she is our voice. My kids have been stinkers in general lately! I don’t think there has been a single conversation in our house that has not revolved around how they are treating each other and me! What is wrong here?! Then it came to me. We have not talked about the Golden Rule in this house in a long time! I went upstairs and talked to them about it.It is not only for them to think about but me too! I certainly have not been treating them the way I want to be treated–at least not consistently. I told them to always ask themselves–did I just say or do something that I would want someone else to say or do to me? (I’m reminding myself at the same time!)I’ve been grumpy! I’ve been mad–I’m not exactly sure why. I’ve been having a big pitty party for myself. I have not been very nice. BJ pointed it out–big mistake! I gave him THE look! I know I haven’t been a great mom (or wife) for the last couple of weeks…maybe more. I’ve decided to end my pitty party. At least for now. I’m sure I will get another invitation in the future. It is HARD to decline! Even though it is not fun when you get there. Interesting. When Adrianne was just fussing at me about WHERE she wanted to get ready for dance, I didn’t give in to the fight. I just said we are doing it here and I smiled at her and played with her while I dressed her and we started laughing. I don’t do that enough with them! I don’t smile and laugh often enough!I am going to try. I am going to work on it! I love them. I am going to try to not let them get to me. When they make those pick,pick, pick at each other comments I am going to calmly ask–is that what you want her to say to you? Does it make you feel good when you say that? Would it make you feel good if she said that to you? And if it still doesn’t work I am going to try to not get mad.I am going to be calm and I’m just separatin’ ’em!!;) For the first time in a very long time I sent the big two to separate corners yesterday–calmly. That’s a big deal. I haven’t been very calm lately. It’s hard to be calm in the middle of your pitty party! When I released them from their corners, I had them try the whole conversation again–as I guided them through it. Why am I saying all of this? You know me. I know you very well! I’ve been in your shoes and you in mine and we know how it feels. For the next week we are going to help each other.We are going to:1. Breathe (Inhale AND exhale. I sometimes forget the exhale part!)2. Remain calm in all situations. Don’t let anyone else control your attitude! You are in control–with God’s help!3. Choose to only do the things this week that you think you can calmly handle. If you don’t think you and the kids can all be happy and calm at the open house–don’t subject yourselves to it. 4. Smile and laugh as often as you can! Relax with the kids. Pizza and a movie is definetly in order!5. Schedule at least one babysitter and go out with a friend who makes you laugh! I wish it could be me!6. Call me–anytime!7. Have a good stock of Ben and Jerry’s! Look forward to it at night as you reward yourself for the AMAZING person you are! TRULY! If you don’t have any good DVR things keep a stock of happy movies to watch as you enjoy your ice cream! look forward to it–not just because it means you don’t have to look at your cherubs anymore but more because you are doing something for you that YOU want to do!8. If you are feeling lonely at night, ask one of your friends to come over and watch a movie with you after the kids go to bed! Remember when we used to do that! You know, the week will fly by if you plan fun things for yourself! Make it an event for yourself and the kids and not just a bad thing that Michael has left you for the week! It’s all about perspective!!!Love ya!Gretch(How is this for the longest comment EVER!?!)

  3. I love it Jennifer! You describe your frustration so well… much better than I ever would. Does it make you feel any better that my children are wild monkeys in public as well? Call me if you need a break from your eldest son… he can come over for a playdate. Hope all is looking brighter today.Becca

  4. I LOVE the comment, “saving the world, one eyeball at a time.” You will be fine. you have no other choice, really. it will give you good fodder for your writing. Did I ever tell you about the book “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg? She’s a little like Anne Lamott. I LOVE that book. maybe you can find it on Amazon or something. I think you’d really like it.Also, your husband’s a doc. Get him to prescribe everyone a fine bottle of Ambien! problem solved!!!I’ll be thinking of you,one temper tantrum at a time. =)love,Auntie.

  5. Since I’m the husband and the one leaving in this scenario (and therefore creating most of the angst), I feel really blessed by the close friends that we have who can come alongside a grumpy/stressed out mom, otherwise known as my beautiful, amazing, and angelic wife. As much as I try to plan, prepare, and empathize in an attempt to soften the blow of my being gone, I can’t truly say “I know how you feel” like you can for Jennifer. This is where I quickly recognize that the same words out of my mouth don’t carry as much weight as the words from her friends who have fought the same battles.So, honey, I’ll try to call and e-mail when I can. I’ll try to help with practical ideas to manage the frustration, and I’ll pray a whole bunch for things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. But all along I’ll continue to be so thankful for God’s provision of sisters for you who know how you feel and can walk through these days with you.The Hubby

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