Over the last seven months I have had many experiences I have never had before. Most of them have been life changing. But frankly, I wasn't looking for anything life changing. I also wasn't looking for the amount of stress I have experienced.
Our house finally sold. This came after seven months of living without a husband. It is a relief to finally be moving forward with that. We stayed at our place in Idaho so the kids could finish school and a few other commitments before we took off for Montana. Especially since we didn't have a place to go to in Montana. I have a new respect for families that live apart. It is definitely not my preference.
The first three weeks he was gone at least one kid threw up every day. I finally realized it was anxiety since it kept going around and it was only once and they were done for a few days. It also made sense that when a pack of kids whose dad is super awesome and super involved in their lives suddenly find themselves without a dad on a daily basis could experience some anxiety. But still it was not fun.
It was not fun for us adults either. I have had that man around for long enough that he is now a part of me. And neither one of us have been apart for more than a couple days or a week at a time. People ask how he is managing or how I am doing with the kids and I can't put it into words really. I am not worried about him taking care of himself or me getting the garbage taken out. He can cook and clean do laundry and take care of himself just fine. I can take the garbage out, feed, cloth and bathe four kids, cook, clean and do laundry, and haul them and their horses around the country. I can even unplug a septic system if I need to. (Yes, I do know that to be a fact since it has been tested and proven that I can wrestle the lid off a septic tank, diagnose that the potty-training boy needs to not use a wad of toilet paper as big as his head, and fix the problem with a hose and a giant metal rod that weighs almost as much as I do.)
I already knew I have awesome friends and neighbors. But they have also been tested and proven. I have been sour and angry and not my normal self. They have taken my children, brought food and coffee and beer, helped pack, fed cats, checked the house, returned routers, mowed the lawn, and just about everything else that I could not do from where I was. They have saved my sanity by calling even from clear across the country just to check on me even after I lost my sense of humor and felt like a needy pile of angry and emotional liability that lives with her parents. In short, I have not been a pleasant person lately and they all loved on me anyway. I am so thankful.
Yes, at thirty-nine and married with four kids, I am living with my parents. Here we are a good four hours closer to the husband and the horses are just down the road. I am super thankful for that as well.
Yesterday we had two trailers packed beyond capacity with our stuff, four kids and a dog and headed out with our two old vehicles that have over 400,000 miles between them over two mountain passes in 90+ degree weather. I have never pulled a trailer that heavy and that far following my husband with four kids and a dog. But I had told him I would do whatever he needed me to do. I trust the man and would obviously follow him anywhere.
Still, I was praying for an anniversary miracle at 60 miles an hour.
The trip was absolutely uneventful. I am beyond thankful.
Over Lookout Pass I felt my sense of humor start to loosen a little. I decided that Lewis and Clark probably went faster on their way back home than we were going. But that didn't make me go any faster. I don't think I could have if I even wanted to.
About half an hour from our destination the husband called me. He had a smile in his voice and something to say.
"Do you realize that eighteen years ago we had all our belongings packed and we were headed out of Montana? And today we have all our belongings packed with four kids and a dog and we are headed back to Montana?"
He was right. We were freshly married, as in hours married, and headed out for Oregon and ultimately Washington. I don't think I would call it irony. But somehow this whole adventure feels right again. For a while it just felt like a miserable holding pattern, not an adventure. In fact, I resented that term "adventure" for a really long time. When we made the decision to move, I remember it felt like we were supposed to be doing it. And then we hunkered down without him and waited. And he hunkered down without us and waited.
We were all lonely and miserable. There was even a point in February that we didn't see him for three weeks because the weather kept him away. It was a really long three weeks.
I finally figured out that we were waiting for something to happen. I have no idea what we are still waiting for, but after that I could feel my hope returning and a new confidence that things were bound to just click into place if I was patient enough. My sense of humor was coming back, and I could use words like "adventure" to refer to our life again.
Through it all I have realized a few things. Being separated from my husband is miserable. And it isn't about not having him around to back me up when I could use some help with the kids or take out the trash or even take care of a septic system gone backwards. It's about him coming home every night to his family and just being there. It's about having him available to talk things through and muse about our days and the kids and the kids being able to pile onto him and get what they need from their dad. It's about having him being able to just grab me while I am in the kitchen and kissing me and hugging me just because he can and he wants to. It's about having him in my bed every night and waking up to him every morning. It is about being able to stop by his office while we are in town and just seeing him and knowing he is close. It's because we have a good marriage and without him I am literally missing a huge piece of who I am and who we are and how we work.
Without him there is a giant void that cannot be filled. It is HIM that we miss. And being with him makes life so much better. Being without him is miserable. So miserable that I believe that I can say without a doubt that I understand why some marriages don't make it through this kind of upheaval we have experienced. This has been the hardest year of our eighteen year marriage. But I believe that what doesn't kill you does make you stronger and knowing what I have makes me want to hold onto it even tighter and cherish it even more deeply. Time and again it would be horribly tense up until that moment he walked through the door. And that moment I saw him all that miserableness would just melt away and suddenly it was all okay and I just needed to hold him and be held.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago why I haven't been blogging. I answered him quite honestly that I haven't been blogging because I really have nothing nice to say. I am too angry and I don't want to put that out there. It is not who I am and apparently I have to deal with it a little more quietly than some people.
Actually, I don't deal with anger quietly. But I don't deal with it publicly. Maybe that is more accurate.
But even with all that has been going on, I think the kids are having a good summer. We have been riding horses (even me!) and they are doing the summer reading program and the summer explorers down at the Grand-Kohrs Ranch. We went Oregon to visit family, to Eastern Idaho to see all our great friends down there and we have seen their daddy quite a lot. We have begun exploring Montana and have a list to continue. They all have the tan lines to prove that summer has been great fun. And we can't discount that it is the summer at grandma and grandpa's. What kid doesn't love living with grandma and grandpa for a summer?
It has definitely been a year of many changes. But now we are moving in the right direction. And we have a new appreciation for what we have. And really, what we have is each other. Definitely an anniversary of note in our lives together. I may even go as far as to say that the anniversary itself is a miracle. So we had two miracles yesterday. And I am so very thankful.
The adventure, to be continued . . .
After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.