A post I wrote a few weeks ago when my husband was in Peru for a 10-day mission trip. For obvious (security) reasons, I’m just now posting it. I hope it’s helpful. And, hey, I did survive that trip. The two things that were MOST crucial were (1) my mom coming to visit and help out for the second half of his absence (just when I felt like I might pull my hair out, or someone’s hair out) and (2) LOTS of grace extended to me and the girls by Jesus – good sleeping, no illness, presence of mind to take breaks when I/they needed them.
Two years ago, my husband led his first mission trip to India. Our twin daughters were 18-months-old, and they were just rounding the bend of that quite difficult “terrible two’s” stage that lasted for quite too long. Needless to say, the ten days he was across the world serving God in vibrant, spiritually energizing ways, I was pulling my hair out exhausted and worn out from solo-parenting these girls. He returned home, and as he shared stories of seeing God work in incredible ways, I grew increasingly resentful and jealous. I told him in bitter jest that I would not allow him to go on another mission trip until our daughters were in school full-time.
Three days ago he left for Peru for another mission trip. And you know what? This time around it’s been so much better. I have taken a few pages out of the books of my amazing Navy wife friends who are called upon to endure MONTHS of deployments, sometimes at little more than a few weeks’ notice. As I have seen them (you) endure these long days and weeks and months without your husband, I have learned a few tips that I tried to implement this time around. I share them in hopes of encouraging you who may be in the same boat.
- Say yes to help. Myriads of people in your community really want to help you. If they offer, take them up on it. Say “yes”! Write their names down; call them when a need arises. We cannot do this alone. Just like it will take an entire team to do the missions work my husband is engaged in, it will take a team (of your “village”) to help sustain you while you await his return.
- Plan fun activities. I’ve tried to do things we do not usually do, and to plan one main fun activity each day. Like going swimming; eating ice cream; having a sleepover with friends. This has made the days pass more quickly for them and for me.
- Be especially intentional and attentive. It’s not just hard on me – it’s also hard on my kiddos not to have Daddy around to break up their days. So I’m trying to stretch myself and do more spontaneous play than I usually do – and if the dishes don’t get washed by the end of the day, no big deal. There’s always tomorrow … !
- Join with them in prayer. I joined with the other wives of team members to pray for our husbands and their team. It was encouraging to lift up this team together and feel like we were a very real part of their missions work. It also helped to build camaraderie among us “left behind.”
- Stock up on supplies. Day one (when we had the most energy), we went to the grocery store and loaded our cart with lots of “happy food.” Meaning, ice cream and chocolate syrup and frozen meals and sugary snacks we don’t usually buy. I put a few beverages of choice in the cart, and we went off on our merry way into the week ahead.
- Remember that Jesus is my provision as much as he is my husband’s provision. Part of God providing for Seth to go on this mission trip is an implicit promise that he will also provide for me as I’m at home alone with our girls. I also have an opportunity to trust God more fully and to watch him show up in surprising ways for me.