Monday, March 14

Trappings

I stepped into the shower today, and was greeted-not for the first time-by the sight of a moderately sized clump of hair-wet, disgusting, and left in a wad on the small bench in the corner of the shower enclosure.

"Gross." I thought. "Why does he do that? Would it be so difficult to fish the hair out of the drain and then put in the trash, instead of leaving it here for me to find?" I asked myself, irritated. I slid open the shower door and tossed the clump of hair into the toilet, and made a mental note to talk to Kevin about it later. "He should know better." I told myself.

As I slid the shower door re-shut, my mind shot backward. Backward to the days when I exhibited the same sense of irritation about a pair of white, nondescript sweat socks. Always crew length, always slid first off one foot-then the other, and left on the floor in front of my sofa. Endless were the days I nagged about these socks. For years these socks made their nightly appearance on my living room floor, and for years I either cajoled the owner to pick them up or I would begrudgingly gather them myself to be laundered.

Nearly 3 years ago, those socks stopped appearing on my living room floor.

I missed those socks-desperately. I longed for their presence, for the signal they left that there was another person in the house with me-somebody that shared my burdens and my life. I thought endlessly about those white socks, and would have dreams about walking into the living room to see them.

As I lathered my hair today in the shower, I thought about the disgusting clump of hair left in the corner. I thought about the pants that get left on my bedroom floor. I thought about the shoes that litter my bedroom floor. I thought about the countless little things that signal that there is another person in this house with me-somebody to share my burdens and my life.

Instantly, my mood changed from annoyed to grateful. Grateful that this is my life-surrounded by the paraphernalia of a good, gentle man.

I still don't love that there is a clump of hair in my shower every week. I still don't love that I trip over shoes sometimes on my way to the closet. However, instead of getting frustrated and demanding that my standards be met...I choose to be grateful for my life. For the chaos, the mess, the noise, and the love that fills it.

I wasn't always so lucky.

Friday, February 18

Sunday, January 30

Abandonment

Growing up wasn't easy for me. It seems as though growing up isn't really easy for anybody, but it seems to me as an adult that growing up in our family was a little more difficult than it needed to be. I'm not pointing fingers or laying blame, and I'm certainly not going to go into details-but it was rough. I'm blessed to have a good relationship with the members of my family now, but it took some long years to get there.

When I was a teenager, my older brother and I shared a strong bond. I'm sure at least partly based on the difficulties of growing up together, but also because we genuinely enjoyed one another's company. We shared much over the years-joys and tragedies and everything in between. I was 18 when he tragically died, and the grief was overwhelming-something I've written about here before. Ammon and I were newly married when Jeremy died, so it was easy to transfer my intense need for male trust and love to my husband when I lost my beloved older brother.

I mourned Jeremy for a long time-still do, in many ways. Ammon and I built a good life together, and chose to name our oldest son after the brother that had been stolen from me.

Then, another man was stolen from my life.

When Ammon died, everything fell apart for our family. For the first time in my adult life, I was without a strong male influence. My father was living halfway across the country from me, my older brother had been gone for almost 10 years, and now my spouse was out of my life as well.

The recovery I made from that loss has been well documented here, and although there are still wounds from the losses I experienced earlier in life, nothing is as bleak as it once seemed. The kids and I not only learned to survive without a man in our lives, but we thrived. We learned to rely on the people around us when necessary, but also how to fend for ourselves and build a life centered around each other. When Kevin met us, we had finally figured out how to become a family again. Not just a functioning (but broken) puzzle, but actually a family-vibrant, happy, and full of life.

The fact remains, though, that I am a girl with abandonment issues-and it has never been more apparent than every time Kevin packs his single small suitcase to board yet another airplane bound for yet another conference or meeting.

When Kevin and I were dating, we discussed his travel schedule. As an astronomer, he travels a great deal more than most people. In fact, the frequent and extensive travel is one of the perks that drew Kevin to the field in the first place. For years he had enjoyed the luxury of being unattached and free to travel as often and for as long as he or his employer wished. He has an enviable ability to function away from home, and freely admits that although he misses people-he never gets homesick.

The first time Kevin traveled after we met was to Germany-he spent 10 days there, but it was during our intrepid 3 week trip out west so his trip was barely a blip on the separation radar. The second time he traveled was about a month after we got married, and he spent 6 days in Pasadena at a conference. I cried when he left and nearly every day that he was gone-a fact that I hid well from him until about the 4th or 5th day when I ended up sobbing uncontrollably with him on the phone. By the time he returned from that trip, several more trips had been scheduled-roughly one week out of every month for the next several months.

I wish I could say that having Kevin travel has gotten to be old hat for me. I wish I could say that I handle it better these days than I did a few months ago...and maybe I do. Or maybe I don't. I know that the kids handle it better-as I mentioned briefly before, Kadon struggled a great deal with Kevin's first trip, but once he was assured (and shown) that Daddy Always Comes Home, he has handled subsequent separations much more calmly. I wish I could say the same for myself.

Oh, I cope with his trips the best I can. I cope with the long silences- the days that are punctuated by one 90 second phone call in the morning, and a 3 minute one in the evening. I tried requesting more phone time before the last trip, hoping it would help assuage my struggle, but it really didn't-it simply placed additional (and unnecessary) pressure on Kevin and made my disappointment when he wasn't able to carry through more acute. Even as I write this, Kevin is stuck in meetings in Pasadena and I have a slim hope for a short conversation late tonight before he rushes off to his next obligation.

I know I'm painting an unfair picture-I have no doubt that since Kevin and I got married, some of the lustre of traveling has been removed for him. I know that he is happiest ensconced in our home with our family, and the days he is required to be away are taxing on him as well. I know that the days when he IS away and isn't able to have long telephone conversations aren't a result of choice, they're a function of his busy schedule. I know he isn't lounging by the pool-he's stuck in long meetings discussing important matters and meeting with important people. I know that he has to eat, and that a great deal of his job (especially at this point as he tries to make a name for himself) is the ability to network and get to know the more established scientists. Often this involves long, late dinners from which he cannot escape to call home before I go to bed. I know that meetings and conferences are mentally draining for him, and physically exhausting. I know that in his position there is an enormous-HUGE-amount of pressure placed on him, with generally very little recognition. I know that he is hyper-sensitive that within a few short months he will be back on the job market, and everything he does or says at these meetings could either help or hinder his search for his next job. I know that because most of the traveling he has done to date has been to the west coast, the time change is part of the problem-by the time he is through for the evening, it may be only 10 o'clock there, but for me it is 1 am...and I am usually sound asleep. Prudence will often keep him from calling me at that hour, and I recognize it as a kindness.

I could go on and on and on about the logic of his trips, and why communication is necessarily suspended for the length of them. I deeply understand the restraints he is under, and I hate that I add to his burden. I hate that almost always, at least once while he is gone I will end up in tears on the telephone-with Kevin miles away and helpless to do anything. I know every time it happens it breaks his heart, and I hate myself for it. I hate that I cannot control this-this separation anxiety, abandonment issues, or loneliness-whatever name I choose to give it. He tries so hard-and I know that many wives aren't even as lucky as I am-no matter how busy he is, he always calls at least once. Even if it's incredibly short, I know I will hear his voice every day and that he will tell me he loves me. On a grander scale-I know he isn't dead. I know that in a few days, I will see him come through our door again, a luxury that my widowed friends don't get to enjoy.

I have to figure out how to conquer this. I don't know how-the response feels so ingrained and guttural and I'm not optimistic about ridding myself of it, but I owe it to him to try. And if I can't completely obliterate it, I owe it to him to at least be a better actor. He works so hard-and would do anything for our family and the impossible for me. I've ever met a more devoted man, and I am the lucky recipient. I have to stop adding to his burden.

Friday, January 28

A Fairy Tale



















Sick

We've all had the plague this week.

It started on Sunday afternoon, as we lazed about on the sofa spending time together. Kadon came down with a fever, and acted sleepy and sick. We canceled our dinner plans with friends and settled in for the night, dosing him with ibuprofen before bed and hoping for the best. My Monday morning, Kevin and I were both sick. The symptoms of the household have ranged from fevers, violent coughing, runny and/or stuffy noses, body aches, chills, upset stomach, and sore throat. Thankfully, not all of us have had all the same symptoms at all the same time. Kadon stayed home Monday, Thursday, and Friday, and Kevin finally went into the office for about 2 hours yesterday and has been there all day today.

I actually skipped the gym every day this week. THAT'S how sick we've been.

On top of it all, I also haven't been able to sleep. I tossed and turned all night long Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, never getting a solid night of rest. I napped fitfully during the day some, but by yesterday morning my spirits in particular were at an all time low. I called the doctor and made an appointment for this morning, convinced that the 'burn in my chest' cough I was experiencing was pneumonia, that I was NEVER going to get better, and that holycrapIthinkdyingmightbeeasierjustshootmenow. Poor Kevin was at his wits end dealing with me, as my attitude unraveled and my spirits spiraled downward.

Finally, last night I broke down and, as I held a feverish Kadon in my arms, asked for a priesthood blessing for both of us. Kadon writhed and cried through his-a phenomenon I have witnessed before and still don't understand-but later when I received mine, I was promised sleep and recovery. The recovery part didn't surprise me...it seems a fairly standard practice to be promised the blessing of recovery when receiving a blessing for sickness. I was thrilled, though, at the promise of sleep.

After the blessing, Kevin sat back down in front of his computer where he has spent the majority of his week, even sick, and continued to work. I laid on the guest bed in his office and attempted to read, but was sound asleep by 8 o'clock. I woke intermittently throughout the evening, sometimes exchanging a few words with him as he worked, once requesting ice cream, but always fell back asleep quickly. At midnight Kevin woke me and we both retired to our bedroom. I slept soundly until 6:30 this morning. By 7:30 I decided that the trip to the doctor wasn't necessary after all, and I called to cancel the early morning appointment.

Today, I'm focusing on trying to put the house back together. Kadon is home from school again, but Kevin felt well enough to go into the office and my cough seems to finally be breaking up some of the mucous in my chest.

I'm so grateful to be on the mend. I think next time I'll stock up on ice cream in advance, though. Having to run to the grocery store to get your fix when you're feeling awful is less than perfect.

Wednesday, January 26

Resurrected

Sorry, I've been a bit busy.

Short recap:

We got married as planned on September 18th, and the ceremony and the reception were nothing short of a fairytale. During our entire honeymoon (during which we were COMPLETELY disconnected from reality for 8 GLORIOUS days) I continually asked "Did that really happen? Was it really that wonderful?" It was, indeed.

Like a light switch after the wedding, all three kids (especially Kadon) began calling Kevin 'Daddy'. It was strange and unexpected at first, but now it's a welcome and blessedly normal part of our lives.

The boys started school, and Brooklyn and I threw ourselves into making friends at the gym, neighborhood, and church. Success reported on all fronts!

The holidays were fabulous-traveling to see our new extended family for a few (CRAZY!) days at Thanksgiving, then a few wonderful days alone at home for Christmas.

Several business trips for Kevin...clearly, a new way of life we're all adjusting to. The first time Kevin was gone, Kadon regressed into an extremely angry stage, and it took me a few days to connect the missing Daddy with the resurgence of angst. After the trauma of the first trip, the separation has been a bit easier, thankfully.

And that, in a nutshell, is what we've been up to for the last nearly 5 months. Nothing earth shattering, but at the same time...something earth shattering. Life is good. Different and chaotic and noisy, but so good. I look back at our lives a year ago, and in my wildest imagination I would not have anticipated being where we are now. I'm so grateful Kevin and I didn't wait longer to get married...September was fast, but perfect. The peace of the last 4 months have done nothing but reinforce what we already knew.

Life is really, really, really good.