Two months ago, John mentioned that his friend Hodding Carter was planning another historical re-creation of an adventure. He was planning to retrace Benedict Arnold's voyage that he took when he and 1100 men attempted to take Quebec City in 1775. It didn't matter that it was a failed mission, but he was planning to build a bateau and he wanted John to join him for the month long adventure.
John was a part of one of Hodding's other adventures in 1997 and 1998 when he sailed a Viking ship from Greenland to Newfoundland. It was an adventure I'd heard a lot about. The idea of having my husband and the coparent of our children gone for a month to do another such adventure honesty made me queasey, but I didn't want to be the reason that John didn't do this adventure. So I put up some hurdles that needed to be overcome for this to work. First, he'd have to keep his job, get paid, and hopefully make more money than he normally makes so that I could afford help.
He applied for an academic leave and it took a while to hear back about that. I was in a bit of denial about what this would mean. But, three weeks before his departure, he got the news that he'd get a five week leave. We do not have family that lives nearby to rely on for extra help. John and I really do share a lot of the parenting duties and we both work full time. I wasn't sure what this was going to mean for me and life as I know it.
We had a great day before he left. We all went to the Harvest Market, a good old fashioned parade and event that John usually misses because he's out in the field with students.
We had friends over for a BBQ and then watched a pop up fire show at a community members house.
When we woke up on Sunday, I had a pit in my stomach like I've never had before. I felt this overwhelming sense of impending doom. In the days and weeks leading up to his departure, John would occasionally say, "Jeez, the kids are arguing all the time.... they are driving me crazy". All I could think is "this will be my reality and only mine for five weeks!". I knew I could do the cooking, cleaning, driving, lawn mowing, wood stacking, etc., What I worried most about was my ability to be patient with the kids. There are plenty of women out there who are single moms and they do it forever and under much worse conditions. But being a working mom without backup was daunting, to say the least.
The kids sensed that I was struggling. Cally said, "we've got this Mom". I know we do have this. I know I can do this. I will channel the strength of all the women who have done this for a much longer period of time than this.
Meanwhile, John arrived in Maine to find Batty, the bateau just built and ready to go (albeit, leaky). Hodding is selling this story to Outside Magazine, so they spent a day in their "period clothing" getting photos taken. Unfortunately, the period clothing is wool and it was 85 degrees that day.
As it turns out, John and Hodding were the only two people who were committed to the entire adventure. Others, including a videographer and the boat builder, seem to come and go. There are also a lot more dams than Benedict and his army were faced. That is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Batty is 400 pounds, so it takes a dozen people to move her. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they get to the "Big Carry"-- 13 miles!
Fortunately, friend have been amazing. Cynthia and Scott have saved the day by being soccer parents, picking up kids at soccer, inviting us over for a swim, delivering dinner, and reading with the kids.
Hazey biked the machine made bike path at Little River and that made me so proud.
I am almost two weeks in. John's absence is mostly going well. It's all a great big balancing act, but I've made sure that I get at least a little time to myself everyday for exercise. That does wonderful things for my head. I also started watching the Handmaid's Tale. It's dark, but it's my little reward at the end of a long day, when I don't have to grade. I'm also learning to slow down, not over schedule, and leave time for the kids to create, play, and relax. Today, they spent two hours making a reading nook in their closet, coming up with club names, rules, and doing some decorating. Seeing them not only get along, but work together, and be creative was a bright light in my day.
The hardest part of this single mama thing is not having to do all the "stuff". The most difficult part is not having the emotional support that I've come to rely on from John. He's my best friend. He is my confident, my therapist, and my biggest cheerleader. We do hear from him here and there, but I really, really, miss having him to help problem solve when, for example, Hazey tells me he's not a good reader and he feels dumb or Cally says she isn't good at soccer.
Relief in the form of my in-laws is coming in tomorrow. I know they will be wonderful about helping me with meals and whatnot, but what I'm looking forward most is for the kids to have someone else to talk to. Anyone who knows Cally and Hazen knows that they talk a lot. It'll be nice to be able to have a few more ears in the house.