"I am master of the bubbles!" my eldest declared from the tub of water and plenty of bubbles that almost reached his and his brother's neck.
"Master of the bubbles!" his little brother mimicked.
I was wiping down the bathroom counter, placing toothpaste on their brushes. I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror.
Tomorrow would be Day Nine of my husband away.
Unsurprising that I looked more than a little pale.....completely exhausted. But I noticed my mouth was drawn up listening to my son's chattering.
Friends often wonder how I do it. Honestly speaking...I don't know how I do, other than the fact that I have no other choice.
When I know the day of departure is looming...it looms dark and foreboding. But while he's gone I'm too busy to even think most days. I just go, be, do. Whatever must be taken care of...whoever must be taken care of. I suppose I've gotten used to it. The excessive travel that begins slowly in September and increasingly more frequent come the New Year. I also suppose I should be thankful that the summer months he's here...but there are also the late nights and long days. It's been over 6 years of this but the struggle for balance in both of our lives is constant. Him, family over work...me...my boys over myself, over marriage. It's not a new story and it causes a strain and a stress on the best of marriages.
I begrudge him the fancy dinners as I sit home and eat the boys leftover half eaten Kraft Dinner and chicken fingers.
He would rather be with us, eating a home cooked meal (which, when he's home, does not involve Kraft Dinner or chicken fingers - not that he would care in the least).
I begrudge him the fact that he's actually hanging out and having face to face intelligent conversations with people the same age.
But I know he would rather be with us, listening to the Superhero stories spun by our four and two year old, however hard they are to follow.
I begrudge him having undisturbed sleep in a beautiful hotel room, with room service. Not having to clean up after himself.
But I know in my heart that with the dark of the night comes feelings of lonliness and longing for us. Although I'm sure he is quite content not to have to clean up after himself.
It is the constant influx of emotions....the up-down...the wow - I am supermom - I tie dyed 5 shirts with my 4 year old today and didn't lose my mind. Then comes the wow at bath time when I realize the green dye isn't coming off of his legs...and did I check the box to see if it was toxic free...and OMG will he get ink poisoning?!
What kind of Mother doesn't check to see if the dye is toxic free?!
What kind of Mother tye dyes FIVE shirts with her FOUR YEAR old son?!!!
And why am I calmest in situations I normally would lose complete patience but then yell at my boys when they won't stop goofing off and get ready for bed?
Will they remember these moments? Have I scarred them for life?!
"Close your eyes Mumma". I sit on the boy's bumpy white plastic footstool in front of the tub that contains my sons, a million bubbles and lots of bath toys.
I close my eyes.
"Okay, you can open them now!"
I open them up to see the sopping wet blue washcloth folded and lumpy at the edge of the bath tub.
"Oh! What's this?"
"A present for you!"
I carefully peel the dripping cloth away to find my gift.
An R2D2 toy.
I thank him profusely and he beams with pride.
He arrives home at the tail end of Mother's Day.
I hope his gift to me is just as heartfelt.
Though possibly a little bit more thoughtful.