Tuesday, March 15, 2016

All by myself...but not really!

I'm so glad that I am able to walk through this life with a partner. My husband is the guy who I depend on to BE there, to pick up what I put down, bolster what needs bolstering, take over and carry on with me or without me through whatever comes our way.
There are definitely days when we would both like to just phone it in and not really 'show up' for the daily routines and responsibilities. But for the most part we are both devoted to being here emotionally, physically, and spiritually for our kids and for each other.
I am blessed!
However, Andrew had two business trips this winter. He was gone for a whole week at the very end of January and gone for 3 days near the end of February. I was nervous before he left the first time.
How to handle 3 small kids on my own every single day? How would I keep up with all the needs 24/7, every whine, every request, every emotional meltdown? When would I shower and how would we get out of the house on time? And would I be totally crazy by the end of the day each day?
I mean come on! By 5:00 most days I'm counting the minutes until he is home and I have another adult to help buffet the energy that two four year olds and one 15 month old can exude.
AND I have to say, it went well. It went better than well, it was totally fine!
There are several factors that made things run smooth:
1. I think the kids were a bit calmer and more considerate of me because they knew I was all they had.
2. I took things slower and had fewer expectations of us all and that lead to a calmer household and daily schedule.
3. I did ask for help: I hired a babysitter for Cierra so I could take just the twins to their soccer game. I accepted the offer of a friend to take all 3 kids so I could go grocery shopping one day. What a glorious 1.5 hours that was! I asked another friend to take care of Cierra while I took the kids to school the first morning.
4. I still had my partner ... although he was quite distant, we were still able to email, Skype with the kids and just generally connect each day, which did wonders for my mood and feelings of support.
I was really proud of all of us for doing so well without Daddy. And I learned things from each trip, the biggest one being that most of my stress and frustration can be limited (if not entirely eliminated?!) by adjusting my expectations.
When Andrew came home from the first trip he was terribly jet lagged and by day #2 I was already back to my usual weekend mode/expectation level of 'hey there are two parents here, we should be able to do X and Y, maybe even Z! And when that was really hard to accomplish, I felt really frustrated with Andrew. So I took a breath and fessed up to my feelings and my thinking and we had a laugh.
Andrew related it back to project management theories: throwing more people at a workload does not necessarily improve the timeline for a project! 9 women cannot give birth to a baby in 1 month! No matter how we wish that were possible. :)
So, in the end, I have a better appreciation for the pressure my expectations place on us as a family, and a much greater confidence in my skills at parenting all three kids by myself and I'm so grateful that that is a rare occurrence.... and I'm never truly alone.