We are a family like many others. Little kids + grown ups.
As a family we whole heartedly-give-you-a-kidney like each other. I think a lot of family's love each other, but like - can be another story. When one of us is absent (usually the Papa) we feel the loss. What do we do?
We cry a bit. We mope a bit. We acknowledge our sadness, then we make a paper chain.
One link foreach day, we number the links and victoriously tear another link off witheach passing day. We celebrate with each passing day, week, month. This little exercise of making a paper chain helps us keep the hope up there floating above us.
In the last 4 and a bit years we've been separated by work related travel for more than 18 months, bits here and there, some times for many months at a time. Yes friends this is an emotional way to live, the highs are high and the lows inflict the most painful of pain on the tender chambers of our hearts. Perhaps it would be easier to disconnect from one another to makelife less painful? You know I've thought about it. But the truth is we need eachother, like plants need water. Not in a needy co-dependant way but in a "I think you're the best thing ever" sort of way.
We *choose* to stay connected. Believe me when I say it is a choice though, it's human to try to protect ones heart from the inevitable loneliness and terrible pain that comes with separation. Psychological studies have shown that when there is an impending separation spouses will often argue over trivial things in a bid to emotionally distance themselves from each other therefore making said separation less hurty.* So in a nutshell there's no way around the sad parts you just have to go through it and know there is something better on the other side.
Ok, now let's get practical. How do we keep the love boat afloat when parted?
We keep busy for a start, pray for each other, exchange pictures and photos, call each other,email, send awesomely decorated with rainbows and love hearts care packages,we skype and when we can have family prayer via skype too. All these things combined help us to stay connected as a couple and family. For the children keeping the Papa in mind involves talking about him, planning things we want to do together when he gets back, buying loads of goodies for those spangly care packages, remembering fun and tender times together, phrases he says and games he plays. There have been a number of times the kids have asked me to save a particular meal for the papa that I've just served up so he can enjoy it upon his return. I promise a remake but appreciate that they are thinking about him and how he loves good food. We're blessed with exceptionally sweet kids. With our baby who's 2 years old I play a game called "does daddy" which involves me asking questions like"does daddy drive the car?" "does daddy pick you up?" "does daddy feed you dinner?" "does daddy give you cuddles" "does daddy do the laundry?" and soon. This is a game I'm pretty sure I invented one day when I was worried she would forget all the things he does and how he fits into our family.
We're in the middle of a 7 month separation and even though baby and Papa was best buddies before for me this game is like insurance on their relationship. When we're together we cherish time and try our best to make memories. We like road trips, reading together, going to the beach, eating out, cruising the book store, getting an ice cream and more. This past summer/autumn we would pack the kids bikes into the car on sunny Saturday afternoons and take them to ride through the shady trees down by the lake. During the colder months we would snuggle on the couch watching cartoons, bewitched, old movies or football (if the papa has control of the remote!)
Our little family has to come first, our base needs to be solid and fortified. We build a sure foundation with scripture reading and prayer and the rest is frosting. We say 'I love you' A LOT. We hug A LOT, we work together, cook together, play together, cry together, celebrate together and listen to each other.
Wait I see a pattern.
We do stuff together.
Reunion is all the sweeter because we like each other and we try hard to make our lives together as good as can be all the time. Just keep on trying.
*psychologists don't actually use the word "hurty"
Today's Post is by Hello Lucky Holly. She's opened her private blog especially for us this week. I chose Holly to talk about 'Family - when we are apart ' as I knew she would have a lot of knowledge and advice in this area. She's an amazing strong woman looking after 3 gorgeous girls, often on her own!