Monday, September 13, 2010

And so we go, into the cold, to speak with you again

So I took a break last week. We had a couple of guest columnists and I figured I could let them have the limelight for the week. Nice guy huh?!

My wife recently spent a week in Washington St. She was able to spend some much need time with her family and also had a chance to take in some fresh seafood. They actually went and dug up oysters and clams. Color me jealous!

While she was gone my sons and I had the house to ourselves. Although we had no major catastrophes, it was a welcome relief to bring my wife home. Now when the boys are saying, "Dad! Dad! Dad!" I can say "Ask your Mom!" Ok, not really but it is a thought.

Although it was just a week, it made me think about people who are raising their children without a spouse. My endeavor was a week long and had an end in sight. Your's does not. I salute you. I can imagine it is very difficult.

Growing up my mother had to go through a bit of single parenting. My father is a retired military man and as a result spent plenty of time in the field. I remember most significantly the times he was gone while we were in Alaska.

Especially during "Brim Frost." Brim Frost was a training operation that took place every two years and lasted one month. My father participated in it twice, 1983 and 1985. This was outside of his normal training an field exercises.

My mother worked full time. She was an education councillor for Central Texas College on Fort Wainwright. Her work hours were, if I remember correctly, from 7:30-4:30. She would have just enough time to get us kids, all five of us, up, dressed, fed and off to school or babysitter before going to work.

At night it was dinner, homework, and bed.

We were pretty ornery as kids, especially our fearless leader, or so he claimed, our older brother Benjamin. Ben, as I call him, was constantly concocting some scheme that usually ended up with him and I in some sort of trouble. Sometimes he would even pass the blame to me so he wouldn't have to suffer my mom's wrath. Nice guy!

But mom dealt with it. At least that was the front she showed us. However I can remember several times when she swore she was divorcing dad. His ears must've been burning while he was gone.

Of course they never divorced. They are still happily married and now live in a much warmer place, San Antonio, Texas.

Often the battle cry of my mother was, "Just wait till your dad gets home." Something she would utter through tightly clenched teeth. At first we laughed at the threat. But after a month of hearing it you start to worry. We started thinking that all the stuff we had done was going to be compiled into one huge punishment. We were screwed!

Dad's homecoming was bittersweet. We were thrilled that he was home and scared at the same time. Mom never waited to get home and tell him all the things we had done. She would walk up to him, give him a hug and a kiss and then say, "Let me tell you what your two oldest have been up to."

Ben and I would look at each other with absolute terror in our eyes. We wanted to run but where could we go. Dad would look at us, cock one eyebrow, and say, "Just wait till we get home."

Oh crap, we thought, we were really going to get it now. But I think the anger must've dissipated by the time he got home. All he wanted to do was be in a warm house, take a shower and eat a real meal. Our punishment was, at this point, a tired, "You guys need to be nicer to your mom while I am gone."

Dad retired from the military in 1986. His retirement was as much a relief to my mom as it was to him.

Mom got to experience being a single parent for longer, much longer than I did. But she weathered the storm.

So again, my hat goes off to you single parents. Stay strong and keep at it!