My husband had been gone for three months and I was tired. My five year old son and I were making life work in North Carolina, while my husband completed a nine month deployment to Okinawa.
One of my favorite things to do is to eat out. So on this particular night, home alone with my son, we decided to eat out.
Never in my life did I think that particular decision would lead to my inevitable “major mommy meltdown.” We all have these at least once in a deployment, right?
Tonight was that night!
All was going well throughout our appetizer and entrees. My very picky son decided he would eat which is always a good thing. We were having a nice conversation and I was feeling like a well-put-together mommy. “See I CAN do this all on my own.”
If I had only known.
It all started when I decided to order my very favorite dessert….Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. My son is not much of an eater so I was persuading him to share the cake with me. He wanted nothing to do with it so when the waitress asked if we wanted two spoons he despaired as I told her, “yes, of course we want two spoons. I couldn’t possibly eat this all by myself.”
Visions of me force feeding him chocolate cake sent fear through my sons little body, and he started to cry. I tried to whisper that he didn’t have to eat any of the cake, just pretend to. (come on people…we’ve all done this right? I just wanted him to hold the spoon and look like we were sharing the cake!!) My husband normally goes along with this charade quite well but my son was having none of it.
“Our” dessert arrived and I started to indulge. But after three bites, my son’s tear stained face began to shatter my ability to hold it together and I could feel myself spiraling downward.
This is not what I signed up for….this single parent thing.
Our family is not complete without my husband here.
How can we survive this for another six months?
Why won’t my son just eat the darn cake??
At this time, Kyle decided he needed to go to the bathroom. Leaving my partly eaten cake on the table, we made our way to the bathroom.
A mere five minutes later we returned to an entirely empty table.
That was it! The dam broke and the tears spilled (mine, not my son’s) and the waiter wasn’t sure what was happening.
Profuse apologies. Offers to bring us more cake and drinks (please, NO, or my son will have a meltdown that rivals the yummy goodness spilling out from that chocolate cake center).
As I lay in bed that night, I realized I was desperately trying to keep our “normal” normal. I was walking around acting like there was nothing askew. No missing link to this puzzle we call family. No absence of a father or husband, and no void because of that absence.
The thing is, our normal was no longer.
There is nothing “normal” about your spouse being absent.
But it is our reality.
And we do it because we HAVE TO.
This is the life we are called to and the life our Lord equips us for. Not my neighbors life, not even my husbands life, MY life orchestrated by the Lord for ME.
So I remember it is just a season.
I remember I am not alone.
I remember God is present when no one else is. He is our ever present help in times of trouble. We can’t claim our husbands are always present in times of trouble, but we have a Father in heaven who never leaves, never forgets us, and is never absent from our lives.