We have an adjustment problem in our house.
My husband does not travel often, but from time to time he does need to be away for business. In fact, we just got done with a week without Daddy and my kids were still reeling when he told them he had another trip early this week.
As soon as the news is broken that their beloved (because, really Moms, are we not just chopped liver sometimes?) will be gone for any amount of time, the moping begins. The moping leads to whining, the whining leads to walking on eggshells and eventually the eggshells just crack and we are in full blown tantrum mode. “I MISS DADDY!” “I WANT DADDY!”
This week they hit an all time low. As they were desperately trying to find ways to soothe themselves, my daughter starts crying about the training potty that she saw in the garage. The training potty she never actually used. The training potty that is about to be sold at consignment. The training potty that is shaped like a froggy. “I WANT MY FROGGY POTTY! I MISS DADDY! I WANT MY POTTY!” I mean, the child was desperate. Here, give me that random thing that I haven’t seen in about a year and then all my pain about missing my daddy will go away.
Later on in the week, my son was at a sports program and as I watched him at practice, he was bounding around like a kangaroo, distracted and just not paying attention at all. After class, I asked him why he was so distracted today and he said “I didn’t pay attention because Daddy wasn’t there. I miss Daddy.”
Isn’t that how we are though? Aren’t we always looking for ways to ease or diminish our pain? Wouldn’t it just be easier to buy something, take something, eat something, smash something, hurt someone, ignore someone or slack off just so we can just FEEL BETTER? Our culture has a bad habit of just pushing stuff underground and thinking that they will just deal with it later. I’m not saying that wallowing in our emotions is productive or beneficial all the time, but left invalidated or ignored, they will come back roaring with a vengeance to be heard. Regardless of what we try to do to hide or mask them sadness, loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear, anger, longing or any other unpleasant feeling will come out of hiding eventually. Sometimes, it is a daily surrender…
In a moment of clarity during my daughters crying, I said to her “I miss Daddy too. But that froggy potty is not going to make you miss him any less. Sometimes, we just have to miss Daddy and deal with the sadness that comes along with it.” She didn’t stop crying right away, but by validating her feelings and then letting her know that I missed Daddy too, we were able to move on – and I didn’t have to bring that froggy potty into the house. I said something similar to my son about him being distracted in his class “Son, even if Daddy is not at our class, we still have to focus and do our best. We cannot do a poor job just because Daddy is not here. It is not always going to work out that we can all come to every class.”
My kids (and me too) will likely feel the pain of missing Daddy again and dealing with the unpleasantness of being sad is a skill they are going to need to thrive.
*I am truly amazed by military spouses, first responder spouses, single mom’s, young widows or any other parent that has to take on the responsibility of their whole family without their partner on a consistent and frequent basis. My kids do not know how good they have it and I am always trying to teach them that while they miss their Daddy for a few days, that we are incredibly blessed to have him around as much as we do.