Children bring poetic justice to a marriage.
Last week, my hubby planned a hunting trip to the cabin. And our seven-year-old was not happy.
“Daddy, don’t go!” She pressed her nose into my husband’s shoulder, clutching his arms and staining his dark shirt with tears.
“Hey, lovey, you’ll be fine. I’m only going to be gone for a few days!” He smoothed her hair and let her climb onto his lap.
“But Daddy, I’m going to miss you!” Her nose dripped onto his camouflage vest, and she squeezed her leaky eyelids in heartache.
“I’m going to miss you, too, sweetheart.” My husband raised his eyes to mine, looking for solidarity or assistance, or both.
“Come on, sweets, Dad has to go now. It’s getting late.”
“Nooo! I want Daddy to stay.”
“Alright,” my husband caved. “I’ll stay here until you fall asleep.” God bless him, he tucked our daughter into bed with a stash of tissues and sat beside her until she stopped sniffling.
Sweet girl. I felt her pain. Truth—I was darn near smug about her pain.
Because it’s my pain, too.
And she could freely express what I could not.
I’ve never been a big fan of hunting trips. Not because my husband doesn’t need the time away—he does, I support it, and he’s a happier guy for it. But let’s be selfishly honest. I miss his company when he’s gone, and mommy life is easier when he’s home to share the load.
So when my daughter fell apart, I agreed completely in my heart, but as her mom I had to buck up and preach the opposite of what I felt. As if my mouth and my brain were at odds.
What I said: It’ll be alright.
What I was really thinking: I hate it, too.
Said: Daddy needs this time to recharge. It’s good for his soul.
Thought: Where’s MY forest hideaway?
Said: I know you’ll miss Dad, but we’re going to have a really fun week together!
Thought: Three days on solo mom duty—heaven help me.
Said: And when Dad gets home on Friday, he’ll bring you a turkey feather. Won’t that be cool?
Thought: Then he’ll feed you frozen pizza for dinner while I escape to Kohl’s for shopping therapy.
When my daughters were younger, I used to mope whenever my husband left overnight. Now that the girls are old enough to miss him, too, they do the moping for me.
And my role shifts.
Instead of pouting, I must be strong.
Instead of complaining, I console.
Instead of expecting to be served, I serve.
Huh. Who does that sound like?
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them,” (John 13:14–17).
This passage comes from the last supper, the final gathering of Jesus and his twelve disciples before he was arrested and crucified. He chose that opportunity to deliver a key lesson—the importance of serving one another in humility.
Now think about that. Jesus knew he was about to go to the cross. So if anybody had a right to throw a pity party at that moment, it was him.
But he didn’t.
He chose instead to look with urgency to other people’s needs—weaker people who needed guidance and wisdom. People whom he knew would need to trust him when everything tanked.
And what did he tell them?
Do what I do. Forget whatever you think you’re entitled to and serve each other.
And then—you will be blessed.
As I read those words in preparation for Easter last week, I couldn’t help but apply it to my own hubby’s-gone-a-hunting grumbling. Jesus is saying that when I shift my eyes from my own wants and heartache to the needs of others, I will be blessed. And it’s true.
Consoling my daughter forced me to find a brighter perspective on our circumstances. Yes, major bummer that Dad is gone, but hey! We can go out for supper and skip the dishes! We can watch movies and eat ice cream! We can have a slumber party in Mom’s bed! And when Dad comes home, he’ll be less stressed and extra happy to see us. What a bonus!
Do you see? Children give us a built-in opportunity to see our lives in a more positive light. When they fret, we cheer. When they fear, we fight for their courage. And somehow we parents glean a little cheerfulness and bravery of our own in the process.
My husband returned on Friday to a messy house and three smiling girls—two daughters, one mom—and together we discovered that caring for each other is, in itself, a form of happiness.
That, and ice cream is a breakfast food.
Oh, how I love your honesty.I used to make my poor man feel terribly guilty for taking a little time out of a weekend once in a while to go golfing while I did diaper duty for one and pouted about my gaping need for “me time.” Now that life is crazy with five kids, he never asks to go golfing anymore.I’m not even sure he could find his clubs in the garage if he needed to. And NOW,since in time I’ve realized that having a man who is filled and fueled is a great gift, I bug him to find “something” just for him, something that would give him a break from our madness. Hmm.. think he gets dizzy living with me? I’m still working on being that servant that Jesus modeled. Thankfully, HE doesn’t give up on me. (And neither has my husband!) Hope you had a happy Easter, my friend.
I’m still working on that, too, my friend! It’s a lifelong process! Hugs!
My husband is a fire fighter/paramedic and his regular shifts have him working 24 hour days 10 days a month, but with overtimes it is double that amount (and his city isn’t hiring new fire fighters, so the overtimes are plenty and have been for years) Our typical months look like this: away for 4 days, home one day, away for 3, home for 2 days, away for 4, home for 2, away for 5 days, home for 2 days…and so on and so on. But even though he’s gone more of the month that he is home, that is still better than being a single parent. I have his support and his friendship, even when he’s away from home. We’ve been married 21 years. I’m used to this schedule. We just had our 10th baby last June 🙂
Tenth baby?? You must have a beautiful system down by now, Katrina. Not easy, but support and friendship from a hard-working husband is a tremendous blessing for sure.
I really enjoyed this post! I am also a hunter’s wife but we are very fortunate that we live in the woods and he can hunt almost literally from our back yard. So there are no long absences and plenty of yummy meat!
Oh, Cyndy, that is my dream home! If my husband could just shoot something in the morning and bring it home for dinner that night… lovely.
My husband has had years where he travels a lot – and I miss him – and it was really hard when there were 5 at home – but I learned to find a silver lining. We did things differently, ate differently, spent time differently – and then they’d all dog pile in my room – and then we all cheered when he came home. Yes – we moms have to be tough – and find that silver lining! I think it’s so sweet how your girls miss him before he goes. My boys were more that way about me than my husband – now they love hanging out with Him:)
I suppose we can count ourselves blessed to have people we love enough to miss and who miss us, right? My family is always my first choice of company. (Until they drive me nuts and I need an hour or two with girlfriends, ha ha.)
Too funny, Becky! You always make me smile when I visit here–especially that last image of you and your daughters among the mess, eating ice cream for breakfast! ha! I am so glad that you are honest about your struggle as well as pointing the way to Christ. It’s a hard balance to strike, but you always do it so beautifully! Love ya!
Your encouragement blesses me beyond what I can explain this week, Beth. That balance is tough, and sometimes I still want to hide beneath my “I’m a shiny happy Christian” façade, but that does nobody any good in the long run. I am so eager to meet you in person, my friend!
I’ve learned to be happier with my husband’s trips away… but only because it means that he can’t grumble about mine.
You have a great point, Shell. I’m traveling to a conference this summer, so then it will be my husband’s turn to cheer up the girls. As much as I want to go to the conference, I dread leaving my family. 🙁
I enjoyed this post.
My daughter is 7 and is a Daddy’s Girl too. She hates when he has to go away. We are a military family so my husband does go away a lot, but like you said, it means we can skip dishes and have some fun.
Blessings to you, Amber! Dads who travel a lot for work have to sacrifice a lot in order to provide for their families. I admire your family’s commitment to the military (because it is a FAMILY effort) and so appreciate the sacrifices you all make for the rest of us!
The only reason he can leave for a week is because I am the built-in, free childcare. I could never leave for a week because: 1-he would have to take vacation days to care for the kids, 2-he could never appropriately care for them for a week, 3-I could NEVER leave them for that long. IT would be too emotionally difficult and I would feel too guilty!! Obviously he has none of these 3 problems and actually is excited when he leaves. I HATE HUNTING!!!