When Dad is gone

You know, four years ago Jason was gone for work all the time. I can vividly remember sobbing against the garage wall with four screaming kids in the car and nights where I wanted to give myself an emotional epidural because it was all so exhausting.

But now that they’re all older it’s usually so much better. We pull together (kind of) and attempt to foster a togetherness-rocks kind of attitude. This method works at least 7% of the time so I can’t say it’s a complete waste of time.

I especially like our Family Circle of Love where we all stand and hold hands together for family prayer. Jason hates this and thinks it’s hoaky and refuses to participate when he’s home. I save it for his TDY’s.

After listening to General Conference I’m trying really hard to implement a few more Get The Kids To Heaven If I Have To Drag Them There Myself routines in hopes of giving them habits that might, if they’re lucky, help them through all this frequently difficult Earthly crap. Yes, there are moments of loveliness but really? Lots of dog poo to pick up and plenty of time warming the Repentance Bench.

Tonight I was attempting to study the scriptures with Harrison who was being totally sweet and receptive when June decided to Strike. This means her father has been gone for more than 72 hours and she misses him. It usually presents itself with some sort of destructive, disobedient act that brings out my inner Mother Monster.

I asked her three times to go up and put on jammies and get into bed so I could come snuggle. The third time I warned that if she did not obey, there would be NO snuggling. She came downstairs five minutes later with a paper mustache and little pointy devil beard taped to her face. I am not even kidding.

I might have screamed her up three flights of stairs before reverently returning to read the Bible with my OTHER child.

Three stories below her I could hear the damage in her room. I gave her ten minutes to calm down before I started hearing unsettling noises in her bathroom and had to take action.

She had ripped all the pictures off her walls and was tearing our bathroom apart in a completely wild way, having a full-blown meltdown.

She’s six and honestly, I wanted to kill her. No really, it’s a good thing I had just come from reading the scriptures or I might have tossed her out the top story window I was so angry.

Instead I calmly moved her back to her bed and informed her that if she got off again I was taking her to stay with someone else. And I totally meant it. Almost instantly I thought of how nice it would be to farm her out while Jason was gone. Kind of horrible of me isn’t it?

We calmed down and prayed together and she apologized a lot for her behavior. I went and got some of our snake oils to rub on her feet and we talked post-bad behavior talk.

I guess sometimes this whole mommy thing is really hard. Right when I think we’ve totally got this under control with Jason being gone she reminds me that, um, not really. Jason will be gone for four months this fall, slated to go right after we move our family halfway around the world.

Not looking forward to it.


  1. The good news is that they can & do grow out of these behaviors. The bad news is that they become actual teens! Ok, so that part is a little scary 😉

    I’m so impressed by your willingness to share what was obviously one of “those” moments that we all are afraid of. If it helps at all, my daughter would tear apart her bed (darling little tykes cozy cottage bed) when she was little whether she was upset or not.

    We have all survived at least for now. She turns 12 on the 30th. And on Sat she even cleaned the bathrooms for her brother since he was helping my husband & she knew he was tired from a dance he’d gone to the night before. It does get better. I promise!

  2. Anna Dailey says:

    I feel your pain. When you were in Maryland, I was in the same boat. For us it was within 48 hours of John’s departure, every darn one of them would become evil. I knew I had no backup; they knew I had no backup. And they took it in turns to melt down so I’d have a full day of it. Hooray. It’s awful and exhausting; and I hope your ward family is there for you. Someone less than half a world away to can provide backup once in a while. Good for you and the scriptures.

    It’s good to recognize your inner Mommy-Monster. When you let her out in controlled moments, then you don’t Hulk-out dangerously. You have a wonderful way of processing things and not taking yourself too seriously, so you can see when you’re being unreasonable. It’s marvelous.

    I loved your General Conference paragraph. So true and so eloquent.

    Hang in there. Breath deeply.