But other times, it's like a competition between him and I. It's a battle, not a smooth transition. We constantly step on each other's feet. We pick fights about anything and nothing at all.
It makes me really upset when our time together goes so poorly. I feel guilty because I want the kids to be happy and excited that Daddy is home. I want to see them playing together. I want to make memories. I want to fill my emotional cup til it overflows. I want to feel the love, not just say it (begrudgingly). Because, as soon as we get over ourselves and start working together instead of against each other, he leaves again. This cycle breaks my heart.
When he was about to leave recently, I tried to put myself in his shoes. I watched him as he was trying to pack his bags with his baby girl wrapped around his knees. I saw his eyes fill up when he picked her up and she wouldn't let go. I thought about him spending hours in the car driving to his jobs, staying in hotel rooms, watching his children grow up in pictures or on Skype. He has days on end to himself. He can go and do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He knows a type of loneliness that I can only imagine.
Then I thought about how excited he must be when he finally gets to come home. And he walks in the door to a stressed-out wife that probably (definitely) expects too much and children that are happy about 60% of the time, the other 40% is spent crying, screaming or whining. He has to juggle his need for relaxation with our need to feel connected. And, that doesn't include the ever-growing list of house projects, or any of my bright (time-consuming) ideas.
When I thought about all of that, when I really tried to put myself in his shoes, my heart broke all over again. In that moment, more than anything, I prayed that we could approach every opportunity to spend time together with a little more grace, and a lot less pride.
I know that all of these things we go through as a family will make sense someday. I know that God is using this time to teach us some really big lessons. I just wish these lessons weren't so hard to learn.
I wish it could be like this, all day, every day.