Matt was able to take a pass from school to come home for the President’s day weekend. Thankfully Fort Huachuca, Arizona is only 4 1/2 to 5 hours away and he was able to leave after being released on Thursday night. We had decided not to tell the kids that Daddy would be coming home, because if you’ve been in the Army for even a minute you know that nothing is absolute. Also, he didn’t end up getting in until around 10:30pm and they were already in bed for the night. Gabe had school on Friday and there was no way I would let him stay up until Matt got in. Instead, I told him I’d have a surprise for him as soon as he got up in the morning.
Both boys were very surprised to see him. Zander, who has taken to sleeping in my bed, rolled over into Matt in the middle of the night and woke up screaming for me. He didn’t realize it was Daddy and thought it was a stranger. After climbing on top of me, screaming and pointing at the “stranger”, Matt turned on the light and tried to talk to him. Zander was having none of it and finally fell asleep on top of me, keeping as much space as possible between him and the “stranger”. The light of day changed everything and he was perfectly happy to wake up with Daddy sleeping next to him. While Matt and Zander got some snuggle time in, I got up to get breakfast ready for Gabe. He, of course, jumped out of bed in anticipation of his surprise. I went to the kitchen, to give the boys some bonding time, and told Gabe the surprise was on my bed. He walked to my room and I listened to hear the excited laughter. Instead, Gabe came to the kitchen and just looked puzzled.
“Mom, how did he just get here?”
“He drove in last night. Because of the holiday, he has four days off training and he was able to come home to spend time with us.”
And he sat down and started eating his cereal. Matt came out a couple minutes later to see what happened with Gabe. Apparently, he had just walked into the bedroom, saw Matt and left to the kitchen. The shock had worn off by that time and Gabe started talking Matt’s ear off. He was a little disappointed to go to school and leave Daddy, but we promised he would be there when Gabe got off school.
The rest of the weekend was very relaxing. You really forgot how much you depend on another set of hands until they’re gone. I showered alone, by alone I mean without little ones peeking in. Matt folded a basket of laundry for me. He hung out in the front yard with all three. I ran into the commissary by myself to grab a couple items. It’s the little things like that that I miss the most when he’s gone. Yes, I miss the companionship, the love and affection of my significant other. I miss the adult conversation and staying up past the kids bedtimes so we can watch a show together in peace and quiet. But I will never say I don’t miss the extra hands and help.
When Zander accidentally dumped ketchup all down the front of his white (yes, white. Don’t judge, I know I’m crazy) sweatshirt in a restaurant and then tried to clean it up by smearing it all over with a napkin while I nursed Calla, I’m glad Matt’s hands removed the napkin and tried to remove the ketchup stain with a baby wipe. When the kids wanted to play at the park and all I could think about was the Starbucks across the street, I’m glad I had Matt to watch them so I could order a coffee without Gabe whining about how he wants to go play and Zander ripping off all the little straws off the sides of the little juice boxes in the cooler. At bedtime, when Gabe cried about taking a bath and Zander was half stripped down and in the water and Calla howled with exhaustion, Matt sat with the boys so I could change and nurse baby girl.
Monday afternoon came around, when he had to leave, and it was Matt that was sad to go (I can’t say I wouldn’t be running for the hills). It seems that while I missed the extra hands, he missed the organized chaos of our family. The loud screams and shouts of siblings, how you never get a minute alone (especially not in the bathroom), crazy bedtime struggles and the smell of homemade lasagna. Even as crazy as they’ve been known to get, our kids have somehow squirmed their way into our hearts. While I wouldn’t mind an occasional break, I can’t fathom being away from them for five weeks. I’d be chomping at the bit to hold and squeeze them too.
And so, we have one more week until Daddy is back from training. One more week of three against one. One more week of trying to nurse Calla to sleep while snuggling Zander. One more week of school, soccer and sleep deprivation. One more week until my other half and his hands are back to help manage and organize this chaotic life. One more week.