When my husband first brought up the idea of going out to Oregon to mine for gold with his uncle and his mother, I brushed it off as a passing fancy. With the new baby cooking up, using the majority of his vacation time seemed like a bit of a stretch, and this summer had already been pretty full. I assumed it would just kind of go to the wayside like so many half-planned vacations, and honestly didn’t think much about it until he brought it up again. And again. And again.
After many conversations and a lot of thought, I began to see this as a great opportunity for all of us. Sure, the timing was a little wonky, but it would be much harder for him to go do something like this once there are two littles around. Plus, I tend to take a lot of short trips throughout the year with my own mother or with friends, and he never really takes the same amount of time for himself. Every parent deserves a break, and I knew he really needed this.
As he started planning for his trip, I started dreaming of all the things I could get done while he was gone. I immediately decided that cooking full meals for just my 4 year old daughter and I was absurd and created my meal plan around simple dinners and frozen food. That alone was going to save me time! Add the hours after my daughter goes to bed and the possibility of sending her to my mom’s for a night or two, and I was looking at a little vacation of my own. By the time he came home, we’d both be refreshed.
On the Sunday he was set to leave, our child woke up vomiting and the excitement I had built up began to wane. I remained focused on the positive. Surely there’d be some great lessons to be found in this.
Boy was I right.
The first lesson I learned is that my husband is much better at dealing with illness than I am (among other things).
He’s usually the one cleaning up bodily fluids and offering comfort to our daughter, while I take care of things like bringing soup or administering medicine. Sure, I always give snuggles and do what I can to keep her comfortable, but he is much better at being a calming presence and making her smile than I am. I hadn’t really recognized this until he wasn’t here to dad it up, and I instantly felt guilty that I hadn’t ever given him credit for that. In fact, over the course of his trip I discovered that there are many things I don’t give him enough credit for. I hadn’t realized how much I rely on him throughout the day.
Instead of allowing myself to feel guilty about this, I sent him a quick message to let him know how I felt and have set my sights on making sure I thank him more often. We really are a great team, and part of being a team is being encouraging to one another.
The second lesson I learned was that I have more time in a day than I think.
We soldiered on and Monday I kept my child home from school. By mid-afternoon she started perking up a bit and had finally stopped throwing up and Tuesday I let her go back to school. As she had slept a lot, I took care of a lot of cleaning and organizing that needed to be done and I realized how much time I waste waiting for the weekend when I have my husband home to help with these things.
By the time I dropped her off Tuesday, I was out of stuff to scrub in the main area of the house. None of it had taken long at all, and I’d worked in short bursts, taking long breaks between tasks. It was interesting to me, because I had had the same amount of time in a day that I usually have. In fact, I had stopped working about the time he would usually be coming home from work. The only difference was I’d psyched myself up about getting everything done instead of sitting around dreading the work and finding ways to distract myself. Maybe I needed to keep that in mind.
Come Wednesday she was sick again and I had to drag her to the doctor, and by Friday I was being seen for the same bug. Although the illness slowed me down a bit, I still managed to knock a ton of stuff off the to-do list, which helped me come to the realization that there is more than enough time in a day if I keep my head in the game.
The next thing I learned was that my life is just as interesting as anyone else’s.
This may seem like a ridiculously reductive statement, but it’s something I’ve struggled with when it comes to keeping up my social media presence. We all know that in this day and age social media is incredibly important when building a brand, and it’s something I often find myself slacking on. In fact, I’ve mentioned it on here once or twice.
The problem has always been that I’ve never thought I had anything interesting to share. If I’m not writing, I’m doing normal stay-at-home mom stuff. I pretty much stay in my house, and since I don’t do the cell phone thing, when I do go out I don’t have the ability to instantly upload a photo. On top of that, I’m generally a private person and don’t even share on my personal Facebook page that often. I look at all the posts from other bloggers, authors, and assorted artists that I admire and they all share personal posts that make me feel like I can relate to them, and yet seem so much more exciting than my own life.
Before my husband left, I decided to use the two weeks to give myself a social media challenge. During those 14 days I would have to find at least one thing to share. Since my Instagram links to my author page of Facebook and my Twitter account, I set my sights on taking one picture per day to document my time home alone. Surely I could find something funny or at least slightly interesting to share if I focused on the perks and challenges of handling the homefront on my own.
I managed to hit most of these days, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Sure, there were a few days where I couldn’t find anything to post, or simply put it off, but I dramatically increased my confidence in using the various social media platforms that used to fill me with dread. Not only did it help me overcome a huge stumbling block, but it increased my engagement, which was definitely needed!
The last thing I learned was that I can really hustle when I need to.
By the time my husband called to tell me they were leaving a few days ahead of schedule, I was more than ready for him to come home. Between my daughter being ill and passing it on to me, the challenges of dealing with a child who’s routine has been completely turned upside down, and the lack of adult interaction, I was beat. I was missing him like crazy and couldn’t wait to catch up…and then dump the kid on him so I could take a breather.
However, I was slightly panicked as I had hatched a plan to completely redo the bathroom before he returned. Due to conflicting schedules, the only day I could get both a sitter and some help was the Saturday before he was to come home With the trip being cut short, I now had to rush if I was going to pull off the surprise…and that meant doing it alone.
I managed to get everything done, except painting the very top of the walls.
As it turns out, even with a ladder I wasn’t tall enough to reach, so I had to leave it to be finished later. Still, I was happy to have made so much progress, and he loved the results.
All in all, the time alone was extremely eye opening, and I’m glad for the experience. That said, I am certainly not in any rush for my husband to take another trip alone! Getting back to the routine has been wonderful and I can’t wait to see how these lessons change the way things run from here on out.