Rollercoaster…

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two weeks from today, it will be November 4th.  If you’re smart, you’ll head to the ballot box and cast votes in a myriad of Congressional and Senate races.  For me personally, it will also mark the fourteenth month my husband has been gone, running a US Senate campaign in his home state.

And whatever happens on election night, I will be celebrating because it means he’ll finally be coming home!  The last year has been a lot of things…short, long, hard, rewarding, teaching, growing, frustrating, bitter, prideful…and more.  I feel like I’ve been on a rollercoaster—one of those old, wooden jerky ones with a lap bar nowhere near your lap, that make your neck hurt.  You know, the kind you get off, wonder why you ever got on, and swear you’re never doing again. ;) 

As this time is coming to an end, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how things went and I can easily break it up into distinct phases… Here’s how it went down:

The Honeymoon Phase

This phase was full of crying departures {me}, baked goods, and lots of hugs and celebrating homecoming.  I never want my husband to dread coming home or always welcomed by a nagging wife, so I was very intentional that when he came home, it was to a home happy to see him.

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This phase {and all of this ^^^} lasted about three weeks.

The Bitter Phase

My “I can do this!” attitude waned REAL FAST.  About three to four weeks in.  Exhaustion took over and I was in breakdown mode every Wednesday night {our busiest day/night of the week}.  I was angry and bitter that I had to do everything by myself and no one was throwing me a ticker tape parade or baking me casseroles.  I had a very hard time adjusting to being with Charlotte all.the.time, especially as she was just getting mobile {at the time, the hardest part of parenthood for me}.  Every quick errand, every jog, every bathroom break, every grocery run.  Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte.  You couldn’t leave her anywhere unattended without finding her trying to scale the oven.  My only break from her was to go to work…to play with somebody else’s kids all day.  I was exhausted and very much in need of a break that was nowhere in sight.

6746_10102786117155730_68995803_n{Oh, you said you needed to go to the bathroom did you?}

And very tired of being asked, “So, is Tyler home this week?”  “No, he’s not home.  He’s never coming home. Whyeeee do you keep asking me???”  I was a joy to be around.

Tyler received the brunt of my frustration {the nice word to use}, usually in the form of snarky text messages.  I was pretty much mad at him all the time, feeling like I would always be second, third, or fourth on his list.  And if he came home for a weekend, it took me a good twelve hours to be happy to see him—a long time when you only have two days together!  Of course, not all days or weeks were bad, but this was the overarching theme November through January. 

Yep, this phase lasted about three long months.

The Indifferent Phase

Sometime around February, I hit my stride with the whole single working mom thing.  A few key moves were using grocery delivery and joining a gym with childcare—just thirty minutes or an hour to myself, head phones in, no talking.  Bless these services.  I lost five pounds that month- never missed a workout!  Charlotte and I just found a rhythm, and I discovered the most efficient way to do ev.er.y.thing.  From laundry to packing lunches and preparing meals, I got it done and I got it done fast.

My neighbors also took us in and regularly had us over for dinner, I started having girls nights in on Fridays, and my introverted self found myself loving the solitude.  Life wasn’t nearly as hard, I wasn’t mad all the time, and I was actually proud of myself for juggling life and work and doing it fairly well, I thought.

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But this was a dangerous place to be…because I didn’t need Tyler.  I didn’t miss him, I wasn’t mad at him, I didn’t care if he came home or not, we barely talked.  As long as he kept paying our rent, whatever man.  Even in the midst of it, I was well aware how dangerous indifference is to a marriage, but I couldn’t, or didn’t want to do anything to change it.  I think it was just self-preservation… We saw Tyler for a total of ten days maybe between January and May, and I just didn’t have it in me to care anymore.  The only thing I could do was hope things would go back to normal in May, when the primary was over. 

This phase lasted about two or three months, but really peaked in month three {April}.

The Back to Normal Phase

{AKA I no longer want a divorce- yay!}

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Primary Day!!  Our candidate won, Tyler flew home with us, and we saw more of each other that week than we had all year.  I was happy to have him around with no lingering bitterness.  He still had to travel quite a bit, but the balance was good…because I’d grown quite comfortable in my routine and all my Real Housewives.  If he traveled, he was still home Friday night through Monday, which felt like a lot.  We went on vacations in June and August.  Things were good.  {I was originally under the impression that the May Primary was the end of traveling for good, so I was still plenty frustrated at times, but overall, we were good.}

This phase lasted four short months, May through August.

The Indifferent Phase: We’re baa-aaaack!

And now here we are again.  Back to indifferent.  This time, my attitude stems more from a more mature “It is what it is,” rather than “I hate your stinky guts forever” which, I suppose, is a bit healthier.  But as election day nears, there are debates to prep, rallies to organize, commercials to film.  Tyler’s just gone all the time…nothing I can do.  So life goes on—I went to New York, Tennessee, and Georgia, ran a race, went to football games, concerts, and fall festivals.  I’m sad Tyler wasn’t a part of most of it and I hate what he missed out on, but we have great friends and a precious daughter and I’m just tired of sitting at home by myself.

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I also learned a valuable lesson along the way in self-control: there is no point in arguing or being angry about something that can’t be changed.  I reached a point where I realized, what good does it do to make my husband feel guilty for working too much, knowing full well there is nothing he can do to work any less right now?  He is powerless to change the situation, so why rag on him for it.  I typically just vented to my sister or scratched my thoughts in a journal and moved on.  It makes for a much happier existence, at least in the short term!

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So here were are with two weeks left!  It’s almost weird.  I’m binge watching all the “Call the Midwife” and “Scandal” I can {and exercising some serious self-control by not watching those Homeland episodes on our DVR}, getting in all the girly stuff I can.  I’m somewhat hesitant in my excitement because the role he’s taking on when he comes back doesn’t guarantee a nightly presence at the dinner table.  We’ve been through the opening-a-congressional-office thing before—it’s hard work and takes a lot of man hours.  Only time will tell—is it harder with a newborn or with a toddler?

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{Charlotte then and now}

To be honest, if I knew then, what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have let him go.  If I’d known how big Charlotte was going to get, or how many milestones he’d miss, or how many insignificant moments he would have loved to see, or knew how many nights we’d actually spend apart, how many social invitations we’d turn down, the thousands of miles I’d drive alone, the opportunities at work and church I’d miss… I would have said no.  I didn’t realize how much our friendships would suffer, or the hit our church life would take.  My “me things” took a backseat: blogging, Etsy, running races.  I’m honestly not complaining, but if you would have written out a list of these consequences and showed it to be last September, I would have put on my Mean Wife hat and made him turn down the job.

But here’s the flip side…I would have spent the last year following this race, wondering if I’d made my husband miss out on the opportunity of his career.  Feeling like I’d sidelined him, forcing him to stay in a job that wasn’t great anyway, missing out on the chance to work in his home state, for a great candidate who we also call a friend.  And he has shined over the last year.  He has made front page news, he’s had articles written on the successes he organized.  I’ve had countless folks pull me aside and brag on what a great boss he is, how patient he is, what a pleasure it is to work with him.  And he’s never run a campaign in his life!  This was a big gamble—taking a job that was not a sure thing, and splitting up our family—and I am really, really proud of my smart, dedicated, hard-working husband.  Even when his work ethic drives me crazy.

And there will still be plenty of issues to sift through when we’re back together—reacclimating to life together, dealing with issues swept under the rug.  It will take another act of self-control to not be ready to pounce the minute he walks in the door…to be a constructive, helper-suitable, not a nagger-appointed.

But whatever dude!  This year is almost over!  My man is coming home and I’m about to go to Target all by myself whenever I want.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

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