I wrote this note to Dave last week while he was in China.

But in the commotion of “single-parenting” I never sent it.

And since he’s gone again this week (but this time in the same country), I figure the sentiments are still the same…

Dear David,

While you are on the other side of the world for a week things are different here.

We spend Family Home Evening traipsing through Costco.

Kids yelling “mom!” from two aisles away.

Flip flops tromping, scraggly hair flying, playing tag, hiding in the giant refrigerator section.

We listen to the radio full blast.

We are five minutes late for scriptures.

Every morning.

Max and Elle stay up late with me…one night decide we must make cookies at 9:30.

I vigilantly check each of our childrens’ heads for lice each morning and night following enlightening news that Claire’s friend she hung out with last week was “infected.”

I feel itchy all week as a result.

Although I’ve triple-checked and I know we are completely lice-free I still dream of those things crawling around and it makes me freak out a little bit.

We go from Elle’s volleyball games to orthodontist appointments to Lucy bawling about something or other in the middle of a parking lot.

I call for impromptu family-laundry-folding sessions and we laugh about the funny stuff that happened that day over our sock sorting.

I spend my evenings running to commitments (church obligations, a choir concert, book club, evening carpools) the children by my side for most, then jumping from correcting homework and quizzing for tests to sitting on the piano bench while kids plunk out their new songs.

It’s the same routine when you are here, but when you’re gone it feels heavy.

I think about how you’ll drive any evening carpool without hesitation when you’re home. You want to be there to watch the kids. They come in with stars in their eyes because you have built them up somehow on the way home. You only give sincere compliments and they know it.

The girls take turns sleeping sprawled across our bed in your spot. Their soft snores lull me to sleep after I crawl in to join them, exhausted in wee hours of the morning because I lack the self-control to go to bed at a decent hour when you’re not waiting for me, our “pillow talk” as a lure.

When I want to tell you something in the middle of the afternoon here, I sadly realize you are sound asleep there and it will have to wait. And it does. And then I forget. And it makes me miss you more.

Sure, we survive just fine while you’re gone. In fact, most of the time I get going on projects like I’m “nesting” waiting for a baby to arrive.

But when you come home our family is whole. And we can all feel it.

Then it goes on to some mushy stuff he’d be embarrassed if I included…wait, he’s probably already embarrassed. Sorry Dave.

Needless to say, we’re antsy for him to get home tonight.

Single-parenting can be rough. I so admire those who do it on a regular basis.

And I so admire Dave for being the help-mate that he is around here when he’s home. (whoops, embarrassed him again…)

But seriously, I find it interesting that sometimes it takes him being gone for a while for me to realize how much he’s doing “on the sidelines” when I’m bellyaching that I need more help around here.

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  1. Hey Shawni, you talked a while ago about having a lady archive all of your family movies onto DVD's. I have been trying to find someone to help me with that. ??? How did you find this person, what is her "job title" so I can "goggle it" 🙂

    If you get a minute, email me at nhellis@hotmail.com. I know you're busy, no pressure if you don't have time.

  2. Very beautiful and honest memory of this time in your life.

    We are very similar–my husband was just gone for two weeks and will be away again for another. I do exactly the same stuff–why DO we stay up late when we need the extra energy?!! I can't explain it, but it happens every single time.

  3. I feel the exact same way all the time though my husband is never out of town much, his schedule keeps him away from before we wake up to about 30 minutes before bed, and when he works nights I stay up WAY to late. I too feel things just run along quite well when he is home, and I'm at ease when he's here (and so are our boys). I loved reading your words, and I love that daddies are needed and missed so much!

  4. I'm laughing uncomfortably over the lice searches. When I was little, there was a lice epidemic in my grade school. My mom was incredibly diligent and my hair was spared–no lice. What I did get was a major phobia of lice. I'm not even kidding. If it actually happens someday, it will put me over the edge. Guess what I discovered, though? There is this stuff called tea tree oil that supposedly lice hate. It has a pungent (but not unpleasant) odor. You can put a few drops into shampoo, detangler, the squirt bottle of water–anything that goes on hair–and it makes an effective prevention measure.

    Crazy story–when I was in college, our college campus had an infestation of lice. (Gross, I know.) My sister was a nurse at the public health department, and kept telling me all these stories about college girls with lice. One night, my scalp started to crawl. I couldn't stop itching. I just KNEW I had a head full of lice. I was so grossed out! I made my sister check, and guess what she found? Hives. I was covered with hives, literally from head to toe. Turned out, I was having an allergic reaction to antibiotics I'd been prescribed a couple days earlier. I was so happy! I'm so paranoid about those critters!

  5. We do the same thing here when my hubby is gone.

    Good luck with the lice thing. We just went through that. My nine-year-old daughter got it at school, Then I got it. I thought I would die. DIE!!!!! It is over now–but my head won't stop itching. Yuck.

    Anyway, on a nicer subject, when my two big kids were little (and I only had two) my husband was gone for a week. It was winter (in AK) ans we had no where to go & nothing to do, so we stayed in our PJs for four days in a row (never left the house). It it one of my cutest memories. 🙂

  6. I appreciate that as I feel the same about single mothers.

    I have been immensely blessed with a wonderful, active husbands (my friends even call him, "Our Ned") because he is just so amazing. So when he is away it works, but it is SO different and hard and I have often thought COULD I do this always on my own.

    So I have a TON of admiration and appreciation for my all single mothers out there as they must be amazingly talented and grounded.

  7. I'm with Ruth–lice would put me over the edge as well. But not because I'm particularly squeamish, but because I have FOUR little girl heads of thick hair (plus my own) to check. Just like you, I guess! The one and only time I think having boys might be easier. 😉 You just shave their heads!
    I use these all-natural products when there's an outbreak at the school–just in case. Makes me feel better, anyhow: http://www.fairytaleshaircare.com/

    p.s. Sweet sentiments about your husband, and oh, can I ever relate. We have the travel thing a lot here. One classic example: I once threw up 20 times one night, and one of my kids was sick as well, and my husband still had to leave early the next morning to catch a flight. We all survived. The only way out is through, huh?

  8. I am one of those single moms – and it is a challenge, just as you imagine. Parenting is challenging in general, but single parenting has a loneliness that makes everything seem harder. I have four kids – 18, 14, and 11 (twins), so am past the little-kid stage, but smack in the middle of teen and pre-teen issues. I've long wanted to ask you if you knew of a single-parent blog that you would recommend. Something specifically for divorced parents, as the issues are unique. I'd love to know how other handle some of the logistical issues that arise – "I left my homework/soccer uniform/favorite snuggly at daddy's house . . .", etc. Thanks, and like everyone, love your insights, stories and pictures.

  9. Ya know…I think the mushy stuff is important! I work in HR…and do you know the #1 reason employees leave a company? Lack of appreciation! That is universal in ALL relationships! I see so many marriages that are falling apart…and the first thing I notice is HOW people talk to each other. Rarely do you see a couple that consistently expresses appreciation on a DAILY basis. I like to challenge my married friends to try it for just a week…express appreciation to your spouse for at least 3 things every day…for…a…week. I get some fun feedback. Their spouses start doing it BACK to them…and guess what…the positive energy between them increases! (And not just a simple “Thanks”…a DETAILED “Thanks”! Like…”You know Honey… when you wear that dress and walk in the door…I literally get a warm feeling in my chest just looking at you. You really look amazing!” (woman like details….details…details) OR…”I really appreciate how you really listen when I am having a tough day…and give me positive feedback.” OR…”Thanks for getting the yard done love…it really looks amazing!” Or…As Shawni writes in this post about David being willing to driving any evening carpool! A perfect example of expressing appreciation! Try it…3 detailed appreciations to your spouse…for a week. (Then…keep doing it…as long as you wanna have a happy marriage) 

  10. Shawni, I met you at the Power of Moms St George retreat a little over a year ago, and have loved ready your blog ever since. I feel like I could have written parts of this blog entry. My husband doesn't travel for work, but he works the weekend graveyard shift as a police officer and spends most other waking moments studying for his MBA, which leaves me on my own with our 4 boys (including a 2 month old) most days. We too spend family nights at Costco, etc, etc. And I definitely suffer from a case of stay-up-to-late-itis when he's gone. Somehow things that easily seem like they can be put off when he s home, seem like they just can't wait till the next day when he's gone.
    I really loved the sentiment you shared with your husband about how much you appreciate him, though. I am so grateful to have an amazingly supportive/helpful husband too, and this just reminded me that I need to share that with him as often as possible too. Thank you so much for that reminder and for giving me a chuckle at realizing that I am definitely not alone in the quasi-single mom moments.

  11. OMG! I couldn't help but laugh out loud at some of the things you talk about here.

    My daughter just had lice over the summer and it was horrible, even though I went into efficient mum mode at the time. I'm still itching at the very thought though, and I get paranoid as soon as she scratches her head now. They're such resistant little critters. After reading the previous comment I'm going to go get some tea tree oil. Don't want to have go through that again.

    And I also stay up way too late when my husband is away, even though I normally go to bed quite early. On top of missing my husband like crazy I get really paranoid about house fires and being able to get the kids out should there be one, so I don't sleep well. Don't think I could hack my husband working away very often.

  12. Amen. Well said. I absolutely hate it when Chris is gone — and I stay up way too late but can't because I'm up at 5:30am to get Sadie (our oldest) to seminary. It's killing me! He is always so great to get up….. I would sleep forever if I could! It doesn't help that I'm 30 weeks pregs. I can't remember when I've been so tired or felt so old! Oh well — he's been gone a week and is back Saturday night… You have inspired me to write something similar to him….

  13. I am wondering, for those times when Dave is gone a lot…how do you stay connected. Between work, school, kids, and church responsibilities, I don't get a lot of my husband's attention. I find myself wondering how other "pseudo-single" moms keep the spark alive in their marriages. How do you stay on the same page when they aren't around a lot? Anyone??

  14. I feel all of this when Newel is gone but I try to treasure the moments that a looser schedule can bring. Some of them are rare. Glad you have him back.

  15. Single mom here too. @Lisa…tell me when you find something that is a good resource…

    Shawni, it is nice to hear from you that even the super-mom-of-america 🙂 feels like things are "heavier" when you don't have your spouse in town. Heavier…that is such a good word to describe it. I am so tired of friends and family who think I'm some how lucky to NOT have my kids when they are with their dad. It is very hard to explain how heavy things feel even with the so-called "break" that ends up being just playing catchup and trying to keep my life together and even though it sometimes is nice to have some kid free time, I miss my children with an indescribable ache that is completely different than if I had a true break with a babysitter or family member watching them for a short time period.

    Ok, I'm done with my rant 🙂

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