40 hours. Some people put in 40 hours per week at work. It is 23.8% of an entire week. It is also the approximate amount of time I get to spend, in person, with my husband every week. Which makes 40 hours an allotment of time that has taken on new, precious meaning during the past 6 months while my husband has been stationed away from the family, a 6 hour drive (on a good day) away .
That 40 hours includes the time spent sleeping over 2 nights. It includes the time we attend to our own needs: work outs, showers, etc. It includes the time caring for the kids together, at gymnastics and swimming lessons. It sometimes includes the time I spend at work when on-service and covering a weekend. It is time that we are intensely focused on being together, of being a team reunited. It is time I can't wait for at the end of each week, and time that passes all too quickly.
I know this now: we will never take living in the same house, of falling into the same bed each evening, for granted again.
Making each week's 40 hours, from Friday, late at night to Sunday, early afternoon, that much more savored is the fact that soon, in a couple of months, those 40 hours per week will become 0. 0 x 50 weeks to be exact, the amount of time that he will spend in Afghanistan in active duty. He'll have a total of 2 weeks of "R and R" sometime in the middle.
Working full-time and parenting 2 small kids with 1 on the way (6 weeks and 1 day to go before due date, but who's counting) has only been possible by lots of help at home. Ever since we had nannygate x 2 late last fall, my parents have basically moved in and are a tremendous help. They plan to stay well after I have the baby when another family member has committed to helping for several months. The new nanny search can wait until then.
Despite all of this madness, I'm remembering to count my blessings because they are many. To have retired parents willing to give up their previously enjoyed retired life to come live with us. To have a job which leaves me satisfied, happy, and not (usually) overworked. (Any overworking is my own fault and side projects I've taken on, not expected by my job). I have a wonderfully supportive boss who understands my family situation. I have a rock-solid marriage; we know that this separation and challenging 12 months ahead will only bring us closer. I have the world's best neighbors. We have fabulous friends who have helped so much already this year, both in their actions and their mental and emotional support. We belong to a wonderful church. So, now, 2 months before he is deployed, I am at peace and stand ready to face what comes my way.
One of my Christmas presents this year was a Philosophy set of products from their Amazing Grace fragrance line. If you're not familiar, Philosophy products come with smart names and little blurbs that inspire. The blurb on the Amazing Grace body butter I found especially resonant:
"how you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you climb down the mountain. and, so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one big gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson. in the end, it all comes down to one word: grace. it's how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light."
My plan is to wear this and live this. Every day. It smells, well, amazing, and it might just help me through the months to come.