He's coming home. I know he is. It won't be much longer. But I still miss him.
He gets one phone call a week. Twenty minutes. It's kind of like he's in jail. Only it's a floating jail in the Gulf of Mexico. And they keep changing how many days he'll be incarcerated. And he gets fed really great Mexican food. Until the fresh vegetables run out. Then it's mostly tough meat in sauce.
First they told him the trip would last 30 to 45 days. Then he figured out this particular captain was known for his frugal use of fuel - stretching it to last a really long time. Then the captain made jokes about having Thanksgiving aboard. Then it was 'a few more weeks'. I finally stopped asking, "How much longer?"
During our weekly phone call, the minutes quickly tick by. He has a satellite phone to make the call. The connection is usually crappy.
We have learned that it is better not to spend precious minutes letting the boys talk because they mostly don't. All of the goings on and exciting things fly right out of their minds when they hear his voice and all they can say is "Good" when he asks them how they are and "Fine" when he asks about school. "I miss you" and "I love you" are popular, as is "When are you coming home?" It is better for me to relay the excitement or drama he has missed.
So far, he has been gone 55 days. During today's call, he said they will come ashore in two more days. Election Day. He probably won't get home in time to vote because he is still a 13-hour-drive away.
We have grown accustomed to him not being here. To not having many outdoor adventures. To my nagging Thing 1 about his fish tank and its upkeep since Aquaman isn't here to oversee it. To me juggling two jobs (three for a few weeks) and getting the boys to drama practice and band practice and to and from friends' houses. I cook a minimal amount - mostly on the weekends. Our groceries are heavy on the convenience foods - things the boys can heat up themselves. The xBox is my nemesis. Sometimes it is my ally, when I need to finish work and the boys play contentedly. Sometimes it is my foe, when I need to finish work and they are fighting over whose turn it is to play alone or who threw down the controller or who screen cheated or, or, or...
I put on his socks the other day when my feet were cold. I wore his sweatshirt when the temperature dipped below 50 degrees. It smells like him. Like salt water and soap. Thing 1 steals his pillow when he is gone. Thing 2 snuck his polar fleece blanket out of our room. But I don't say anything. I understand.
I have to remember to empty all the trash cans and the recycle container the night before trash pickup and get the boys to take the cans to the curb. I have to remind/threaten The Redhead to mow the lawn. I had to change lightbulbs the other day. Sweep the porch. Clean the bathroom. Supervise archery in the back yard. Walk Yellow Dog. Every. Day. Plan solo for birthday parties and presents and cake. Go to the band concert alone. Supervise trick or treating and pumpkin carving. Grocery shop. Help with homework and projects. Algebra is kicking my butt. Make breakfast and pack lunches and make dinner. Read the boys a story at night and kiss them goodnight. There is no day off.
And I know some people - single parents - do this all the time. And they do it well. But it's hard.
It's so hard.
Two. More. Days.