Summer, for us, is a changing of the guard.
I spend the summer at home with the girls and my husband goes back to work. After ten months of being the main caretaker for our two daughters, Daddy heads off to kill bugs for about sixty hours a week.
We are ships passing in the night more often than not.
I keep the girls busy with gym trips, pool time, bike rides, and the occasional movie-and-PJ day. It’s during these two months that I get caught up on all the things that get neglected during the school year: heavy duty house cleaning, closet clean-outs, DIY projects, and home improvements. It sometimes feels like a mad dash to get as much done as possible before I get that return-to-school letter.
On the first day of my summer break and the last day before Chris headed back to work, he mentioned how he thought the transition for the girls might be rough. Going from Daddy-all-the-time to full-time-Mommy. I said he was being dramatic and that it’s not like the girls haven’t seen me for the past ten months. I might have even been a little insulted that he thought they’d miss him and not be okay with me.
Fast-forward a week and Chris has only seen the girls two nights in the past five. With late nights at work and practices with the band for weekend worship, he was gone. A lot.
Saturday night rolls around, Chris is at church and I’m at home. The girls and I spend about four hours outside, playing with every toy in the garage while Harper works up a really nice sidewalk chalk/snot mixture on her face. Chris called to say hi in between church services and Harper wanted to talk to him.
Right now, Harper has this really cute, high-pitched, baby voice. She speaks softly most of the time and I would describe her voice as what a really cute mouse would sound like if it could talk. It’s precious and helps her get away with lots of things she shouldn’t. I know tht later this will come back to bite us in the butt.
So she gets on the phone with her Daddy and tells him three things: “outside playin’,” “miss you, Dada,” and “I love you too.”
And then I hear it.
Chris’ voice cracking as he tells her he misses her too and he loves her so much.
And what I don’t hear, but I know from the tone of his voice is what Chris meant about transitions was about him. About a daddy that was going to miss his girls so much he wanted to tell me, but he didn’t know the right words. That he was dreading going back to work because he knew it would take him away from them for most of the summer. And he knew it would be hard on him.
Maybe he would have been able to tell me that if I didn’t respond immediately with sarcasm and thoughts about myself.
And I’m amazed that, in spite of myself, I was able to pick such a good one.
Mary Graham is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Blue. During the day, she teaches high school English and at night (after the girls are asleep), she writes for The Huffington Post, Pearson's Teachability, For Every Mom, her own blog TrustyChucks & various other print and digital outlets. In her spare time, she likes to read, travel, eat chocolate, run half marathons, and then eat more chocolate.