Tim has been away for a week now and I always find it fascinating how I respond to him being away and also how the kids respond to him being away. Let’s talk about the kids first. I remember when I first became aware of how each child reacts to the absence of their father. I think Iraina was one and a half years old. If you’ve ever learnt about the 5 love languages, then you’ll understand this bit. If you haven’t, just go and have a read on Gary Chapman’s website and see the basic descriptions. It has really helped me understand, not only those around me, but myself as well.
With that said, Aislyn is a “quality time” kid. Whereas Iraina is a “physical touch” kid.
So when Tim did his first long trip away from us when she was little, every time he’d Skype, Aislyn couldn’t wait and chatted her heart away when he called. I started to notice that around day 4, Iraina was losing interest and just came in to say, “hi” and at the end say, “bye”. I didn’t think anything of it until it got to day 11 and she didn’t even bother to come to the screen. We had to coax her but she wasn’t interested. It was almost like she went cold towards him.
I was worried, because she had also started being very friendly with many of the men in our lives. At church, visitors that came over……can I remind you that she was 18months old. So it wasn’t an outright rebellion, she was searching for the way she likes to be loved. Physical hugs, snuggles and so on.
When we realized this, we made the decision that for every trip we had to always keep it as close to 10days maximum as possible because of our sweet girl. The rest of us cope quite fine as long as we can talk to him and spend time with him through some form of interaction – but “physical touch” kids or adults, need the assurance of a hug or actual pat or stroke on the back.
So, when Tim goes away now – I make sure that I turn it up with Iraina from my side. Because my love language is most certainly not “physical touch”. I have to mentally make a note and extra effort to invade my child’s space and give her what she’s searching for. Yes, it’s not the same as Daddy but it does helps to tide her over until he comes back.
Besides that aspect, at around day 10, the kids also get a bit antsy and just a little harder to deal with. Once again, it’s not that they’re doing it on purpose – it’s their natural instinct to seek out their father and have that security and authority figure around. This is normally when I either loosen the reigns to relieve the tension or I tighten up and help them feel more secure with a stricter routine or rules.
It’s amazing how just adjusting these few things, helps to manage my home when Tim is away.
How do I respond? Well, obviously I miss the guy – he’s awesome and my best friend. So I honestly go through this teenager lovesick phase, where I’m constantly wanting to message and chat and also wonder – why isn’t he messaging me back or wanting to call. (Yes we’ve been married for almost 13 years and I still have my “teenager” moments)
Once I get over myself and remind myself that he’s busy and he will call or text when he can – then I move on.
Side note: I did have to chat to Tim about this because when he first started traveling, when we were newly married, he would go for days without messaging or calling and I honestly thought something had happened. I explained how it made me feel and asked why he did that? He said, he felt he was doing the whole, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ kinda vibe.
Well, I popped that ‘romantic bubble’ and told him it comes across to me more like, ‘absence makes the wife more insecure, anxious and scared’. Thank the Lord he got it and messages as often as he can now.
Another thing I have to ALWAYS be aware of, is that when he leaves, I step into mom and dad role and run things on my own. (I admire single parents for this because there is no relief without a team mate) when I’m in this role for even three to four days, when he gets back I have to literally step back, shake off the responsibility I’ve had to carry and allow Tim to step back into being Father and husband in our home.
It can be too easy to treat him like he’s another kid in the house when he gets back because I’ve forgotten to step back into my safe space of being wife and mother. If you have this kind of lifestyle, you’ll identify with what I’m talking about. Or you’ll be aware of it from now on.
It’s something that I have to consciously be aware of. Why? Because honestly, when he’s away – I get my home into a well oiled machine that just runs so well. When he gets back I feel I have to switch the machine off and return it back to the machine it was with him there.
It’s not easy and I often feel really guilty about how I feel when this happens. Guilty? Well, I really like my well oiled machine when he’s not there and that means (part of me anyway) that I prefer it when he’s not around. The guilt is because I absolutely love my husband but this almost wishes him away……. does that make sense?
I’ve come to learn that this is a very “human” reaction and I have to respond to it with a Godly guideline and step into the role God ordained me to be in – where I find the most security, fulfillment, love and respect.
So over these next few days I will be navigating the process of making sure that Iraina is loved, that Jude understands that his Dad is coming back and Aislyn is chatting to her Father as often as she can. Then prepare for him to come back and step back into my role.
Has this been your experience? Or do you deal with it differently? Leave me a comment – I welcome as many tips as possible to learn from you guys.