My last blog entry was all about our wonderful mother cows and sometimes I look at them with empathy and sympathy – for any of your breastfeeding mothers out there you would cringe while watching a calf nurse. But I also see that their one and only goal is to keep their calves fed, safe and warm. Sometimes I envy the simplicity.
I am not only a mother but a full-time professional who balances work, motherhood, domestic duties and a few non-profit obligations on top of it all. Combine that with the fact my husband works 80-plus hours most weeks and I’m basically a single parent for a few months of the year.
This is one of those months. Outside of the normal work hours, my husband and his father split the night hours, checking the mother cows and calves every three hours. Sometimes that check takes 10 minutes and sometimes it leads to an all-nighter of babysitting expectant mothers and watching over newborn calves. Regardless of the number of hours my husband spends in bed each night, he gets up every morning to do it all over again.
I know I am not the only mother with a spouse who can’t make it home for dinner every evening or who is absent from the weekend activities and errands more often than not. I am fortunate in that I can call and visit my husband most days because while he isn’t at home, he’s right down the road. Some spouses are halfway across the world defending our country and our way of life – and to those individuals I tip my hat and offer a sincere thank you.
Outside of the stress of just trying to get it all done each day, going a day, evening or weekend without a spouse means there are no time outs or “me” time. You have no “other half” to watch the kids while you run to the grocery store or make the quick trip to the mall. There is no one to hand the kid off to for bath time or to read the same book for the 1,000th time. It’s you and them and only you and them.
But for all of the times I have grumbled about my situation because my husband is spending yet another Saturday at work, I have also learned to appreciate the irreplaceable one-on-one time I have with my son. I know all his habits, I can decipher his toddler language and can comfort him when something just isn’t going his way. Because we have spent so many mornings, evenings and weekends together, I am his go-to, his protector. And that’s pretty cool. Dad may have the keys to the tractor and access to the cows, but I have the ability to console him when he’s sick and find the blanket he’s misplaced.
I didn’t grow up hoping to find a husband who wouldn’t be home for dinner or away for entire nights and days at a time. But I love and respect what my husband does and I know he is living out his dream. For all the moments I want to complain and fight, I have to remember that there are millions of other women in my shoes and I am one of the lucky ones. Some are fortunate to have a spouse that will eventually return home. Some have forever lost their partner and others are simply hoping that one day they will have the opportunity to just be a parent. My situation may not be what I envisioned as a child but I know I have much to be thankful for.
It’s never easy juggling a job, friends, children, cooking, cleaning, laundry and extra obligations. But I count myself fortunate to have a wonderful little boy who enjoys my company because it’s only a matter of time before friends, sports and the farm will pull him in a million directions. I will never love the idea of going it alone but I have learned to appreciate the time I get to spend as a parent. It’s priceless and fleeting.