Frankly, I'm disappointed.
I rather expected the news that Jason will be spending the next six months in New York to provoke more of a reaction. The announcement of a new baby is big, but hey, we've all known it's coming for quite some time. A six-month separation from my hubby, however, is not just unexpected--it's colossal! (Calamitous and catastrophic also come to mind.) Condolences from the President himself wouldn't seem too out of order.
(By the way, I hope everyone catches the tongue in my cheek. If this post provokes a slew of pitiful comments, I'll feel really embarrassed...)
Seriously though, by this time next week Jason will be starting a new job on the eleventh floor of a New York City high rise and the kids and I will be on our own. In truth, I'm terrified. I haven't put all four kids to bed even once, let alone for months on end. Every meal, every spill, every diaper, every midnight waking--all my responsibility. No one to shuttle Brooklyn to piano, pick up eggs on the way home, or swaddle the fussy baby. No one to watch the fort while I shower, send me for a run I get cranky, or hold me when I cry. (Gosh, I better stop or the tears will start too soon.)
I keep reminding myself that it could be much worse. I have so much respect for the military wives who send their husbands overseas. Some say New York is dangerous (when compared to St. George), but I'm glad it's not Afghanistan. Think about all of the courageous pioneer women who scraped a living out of the earth while their husbands were away. And then there is the reality I never want to think about--those who have lost their husbands for this lifetime.
As much as I admire the valor and resourcefulness of these women, I never wanted to be them. It's no secret that I rely on my husband completely. In matters small and large we work as a team, all the way from scrubbing dishes to birthing babies. Ironic, I know, since I used to be dauntlessly independent before marriage. Never afraid to do things alone, I seized every opportunity, whether traveling overseas or simply going to the theater. While not opposed to the idea of marriage, I never doted on it like some girls. To the contrary, I worried that it might impede my freedom.
The past decade with Jason has transformed me. Our partnership has become so engrained into my sense of identity that I often speak in terms of "we," even when Jason is not around. Hardly a decision is made without my considering his wishes. Yet instead of feeling restrictive, this connection is liberating: no matter what happens, I know he is likewise thinking of me. As a team, it feels like we can do anything. Rob me of my better half, and I feel broken.
With Jason leaving, I find myself feeling timid and vulnerable. Raising four small children on my own--this is the trial I never wanted. The challenge feels too great--physically, spiritually, and above all, emotionally. Leave that for the strong women--I was happy being weak, even needy. After all, who wouldn't want to need a guy as great as mine? In the past, I've whined and moped when Jason left town for a few days. Suddenly life flips upside down and a weekend together becomes a cherished treat.
Last night I had a terrible time focusing at a planning meeting for Primary (children's Sunday school). An activity in April? Doesn't the world come grinding to a halt on Thursday? No, the Lord is teaching me that whether my husband is here or in New York, life goes on.
I can be strong. I'll have to be--for myself, for the kids, for Jason. These next six months will most certainly be a tutorial in regaining independence. The kids will be surprised to discover that Dad isn't the only one who can change a light bulb or mow the lawn. Perhaps I will surprise myself with strength born not out of desire, but out of necessity. And when Jason and I are reunited again, I pray our marriage will be stronger than ever for having the courage to persevere while apart.
At least that's what I hope...frankly.