When Daddy Works Late

{This blog was originally published two years ago, and while my husband doesn't work late once a week anymore (it's more like every other week, or once a month), I find myself in need of this encouragement this week, because my husband has been gone for three days. He comes home tomorrow afternoon, but for today I'm going to offer myself the practical grace found in his blog. I hope it helps all you ladies whose husbands consistently work late!}

My husband works late about once a week. It can be rough. I dread that night. Often, he tells me early in the week so I can plan around it, but there are times when the clock hits 5 and I haven't heard from him all day and my heart just knows--he's going to be late. Sigh.

Let me just pause for a moment and give a major shoutout to single moms and military wives who do night time all by themselves every night. You rock.

My husband is working late two nights this week. TWO nights. Since I know ahead of time, I can plan my day to prepare for the crazy of dad-less dinner and bedtime. Here's what I do:

1. Keep Dinner Simple: 

Obvious, right? But I can't tell you how many times I've stubbornly stuck to a "real dinner" rather than stay simple and do only food the kids love. Avoid dinner battles like the plague on nights without Daddy. Tonight's dinner: raviolis (not homemade, no way) and Costco pesto sauce. I also don't shy away from calling up the grandparents to see what their dinner plans are and if involve 3 overactive boys and 1 tired mom.

2. Pace Myself:

Although a mommy work day always lasts until bedtime (I won't even mention everything we do after they go to bed), we're used to the reprieve of that Daddy Home moment and all the help that comes after it. Dinner and bedtime are no easy feat, but they are particularly hard when we're missing half of the tag-team.

When I'm used to running a 5k of motherhood every day, and suddenly get thrown into a half-marathon, I must adjust my pace. When Daddy's working late, I give myself extra breathing room throughout the day. I revert to rest-when -they-rest, newborn-style living. Cross "today" off the top of my to-do list and write "tomorrow" there instead. Almost every goal I've set for myself can wait. Better to maintain a rhythm of rest than become Volcano Mommy, spewing angry mouthfuls of crushing criticism. I know enough about myself as a mom to recognize when I just need rest. So whether they are asleep or on quiet time and I know Dad's coming home late, I forget the task list and find an opportunity for physical rest. When they aren't resting I continue to maintain a slow pace for the day, forgetting the unnecessary and just being Mom.

3. Plan an extra treat:

Think of something special for your kids and keep it in your back pocket for when the breaking point comes. Then you just step back and yell over the chaos: I've got _____ waiting! Think a trip to the playground, that book with flaps you have to keep on top of the fridge so it doesn't get destroyed, a Popsicle, or even a bath. Today I have homemade chocolate chip cookies at the ready for when the insanity breaks loose beyond my control.

4. Do a Daddy Thing:

For my 3 boys, it's wrestling, tickling, or Hide and Seek after dinner. I try to do one of their favorite Dad-activities on nights he can't be home with them. It's hard for them to not see Daddy too. My husband fills a different role in their lives than I do. I can't replace Dad, but I can get outside of my box and give them a small dose of what he offers them.

5. Receive and Give Extra Grace:

I'm going to get honest and say some days I nurse grudges against one or all of my children. Because as much as I talk about giving space for failure in myself and my kids, my default is always going to be expecting perfection of all of us. When I know it's going to be a long day, I have to receive extra grace from God and let it overflow to my kids. Pray for a supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit. Repeat a simple Bible verse (His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2 Peter 1:3). Play worship songs on my phone. He gives me new grace for every new day. There's always enough on God's table to overflow into my relationships with my kids, but I don't always eat everything He is providing.

When Dad Gets Home:

My husband got home just in time to tuck my oldest son in for the night. But no matter when Wes gets home, even if it's a minute after I finish putting all the boys to bed or shortly before I go to sleep, my attitude should be the same: grateful. Because my man doesn't work late to make my life more difficult. He doesn't work late to avoid his family. He works early mornings and late nights to provide for our us. He works long hours to make certain his job is done right for the good of the company and for the good of his family. And for that I'll greet him with a kiss and a listening ear, not a list of my hard day.

Hope from my Breastfeeding Failure Story

If you've already read Unsupermommy, you know that breastfeeding didn't work out for me. I told you that, but I never shared my story. I've been holding it close, because it isn't easy to say that you just plain old gave up. That sounds like the worst kind of motherhood failure in our culture.

I've never heard a woman tell me that she also became a bottle feeder without her expressing disappointment. In our culture, the easiest way to get an A+ at motherhood is to feed your baby right. It starts with breast feeding. Extra credit if you struggle with it but persevere through to 15 months. 15 months is better than 12 months--it demonstrates your true grit--but 18 months, that just makes people uncomfortable.

I wish we could abandon the term breast is best. We Christian women should know better. God is best. God provides best. God knows best. God loves best.

Read More

When a Capable Person becomes an Incapable Mom

I've always been capable. I got A's in school. I succeeded in college. It's true, I couldn't do sports, so I just avoided them at all costs. Instead I did the things I knew I could succeed at, like academics, leadership, and drama.  

I was always a capable Christian. I'm not saying that I didn't accept God's grace and I based my whole life on works. I knew I was sinful and needed God's forgiveness. I knew I needed grace for my failings. I knew deeply the need for God's saving grace. It was his sustaining grace I didn't understand. Because I was generally capable to do the daily tasks God set before me, I didn't lean on him as the provider of everything I needed for life and godliness.

Then I became a mom. Motherhood did not come naturally to me. Suddenly I was no longer capable of simply completing the task set before me. And there was no avoiding this job. There was no accepting failure and finding another route. I couldn't send my baby back until I was better prepared for him. No, I needed grace to sustain me through every long moment of every overwhelming day. 

I've been back in the Gospels lately. Not particularly because it is Lent season, but because I felt a tugging to go back and read about Jesus again with the my new unsupermommy perspective. I quickly reached the Beatitudes in Mark 5, and I've been stuck there for a while because they're just so new again.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

I knew I was sinful and need of grace before motherhood, but I don't think I had ever experienced true spiritual neediness. I didn't know what it was like to start my day with nothing in my tank to give. I didn't know physical, spiritual, and emotional emptiness until motherhood took me far deeper than my personal capabilities. But Jesus looks upon that kind of lack as blessed. It's the opportunity to receive the kingdom of God anew. 

When I reached the end of my emotional, physical, and spiritual rope, I landed at the foot of the cross. There I found a renewal of saving grace and his endless sustaining grace. I offered the emptiness of my poor spirit and received the fullness of Christ and I would never go back to being capable again.

If the pieces of your life have fallen apart in the work of motherhood, let Jesus bind up your poor spirit and fill you up with his sustaining grace. Grace upon grace. More than enough for today, tomorrow, and forever.