Being a missionary has meant that I have had to travel a number of times during recent years. After one of my overseas trips which lasted nearly three weeks, my wife commented in passing that I had no idea how hard it was for her while I was gone. I tried to empathize, but candidly, I really didn’t have any idea at all until this week. Deb had to fly out to Vancouver, Washington to be with her mom who is recovering from hip replacement surgery. I can now say that I have had a tiny glimpse into her world of keeping things going on the home front by yourself while still being involved in full time ministry every day. So in homage to my beautiful wife, whose birthday is tomorrow, I want to start this blog with one big statement to her – YOU WERE RIGHT. The picture I chose are of her favorite flowers which she will be seeing a lot more of when she gets home. So in her honor, I am going to share a few of the lessons that I have learned so far this week:
1. Cats can be almost as demanding as children and they will get what they want – After a late night of fun with the boys, I dosed off in hopes of getting a few hours of decent sleep on Saturday night knowing that we had to get up early on Sunday to be at the 8:30AM service. Par for the course, I was awoken rudely at 4:22AM by a call from our alarm company, which as it turns out was a false alarm from one of our stores. Then at 5?AM, the cats started scratching at the door insisting on being fed – what happened to their normal wake up time at 7AM? Big lesson learned – don’t ignore the scratching thinking that it will stop, they will wait until the very moment that you are about to dose off again and begin all over just to see if they can get a response.
2. Shopping for JUST what is on the grocery list is nearly impossible – especially at Wal-Mart and especially if you created the list yourself. I normally consider myself a reasonably self controlled person and a planner. But, as it turns out I am a real sucker for a 5 pack of Mac and Cheese if the price is right whether we need it or not (we will of course need it at some point in the future with ravenous teenagers in the house). Then there is the can of Francesco Rinaldi meat flavored spaghetti sauce, also not on the list but so effectively merchandised in the check out aisle and priced to move. I will be surprised if Deb ever lets me shop on my own again. I may need to attend some kind of shopping therapy lessons first.
3. Planning, preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up from every meal every day is a lot of work (eating seems somewhat anti-climactic after all that). I can hear every married woman in the world cheering on this one. We guys really don’t get it at all. Somehow these amazing hot meals show up on our plates everyday and we have the gall to think that it must be easy. I already knew my wife was amazing before this week started, now I am beginning to think that she (and all other women in the same situation) have some super human gene in them that allows them to make it look effortless and easy.
4. Teenage boys have far too much laundry to do (and maybe grown men too) – who knew that laundry needing to be done could actually grow even though it was being done regularly. Apparently teenage boys do not wear the same number of items every day and when it involves baseball uniforms, their needs seem to increase based on the number of games they play each week. Just my luck that this was a three game week for each of them. I was nearly tempted to ban the use of sliding into base during their games just to preserve the uniforms, but somehow they didn’t go for that idea.
5. My wife is either a scheduling genius or just the most organized person in our family (or maybe both) – before she left, I insisted that Deb do a spreadsheet of our events this week. That was a great start for the week, but clearly did not account for the number of last minute changes ahead. These included my ambitious last minute plan for a sleep over with three of the boy’s friends and the impromptu gathering to watch the Philadelphia Flyers win game 4 of the series. Somehow, I overlooked some of the details like how these boys were getting to and from our house and how that would work with our neatly prepared plans. Praise God for other parents who have a flexibility gene and for their patience with me.
This has been a great week of learning about my own weaknesses and Deb’s incredible work ethic (as if I did not already know that). To God’s glory, it has also been a great time of bonding with my boys, living in the present and enjoying every moment of every day as we struggle along until Wednesday when mom gets back. From here on out I will have a renewed passion for the wife that God has given me and a new desire to support her in real and practical ways. Being a single dad for a week has been an eye opener and a good one.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEB – we miss you, come home soon!!!!!