Parenting is hard.
Parenting alone is harder.
Parenting when your partner is in the home one day and out for weeks or months the next is hardest.
Emotionally. Physically. Mentally.
I have said before that C is training far more than we have ever experienced. The ratio between when he is "home" and when he is not is beyond skewed. The chaos of emotions that accompany his training rotations exhaust every part of me. He is here for a flash and then he is gone. Logan asks when he will come back. When he comes back, Logan asks him not to go back to work. When he leaves again too soon Logan can't understand why.
When C headed out this morning, he told me how sorry he was. In the complete disorientation of early, early morning sleep, I heard it:
I'm so sorry I am leaving you again.
All that I could manage in response, half-asleep, barely-awake, was:
No sorries. Never sorries.
Parenting without them, keeping a family moving without them, handling the temper-tantrums, and the refusals to go to sleep, and the fights over toys, and the stubborn eating, and each tiny everyday thing without them, while still trying to keep them present, is hard.
But at no point is something taking me from being here. At no point will I receive a call, or a schedule, or a calendar update that tells me I not only will be gone for three weeks this time around but add another two. At no point will something else I chose take me from Eli saying his brother's name for the first time like he did today. At no point will a higher obligation take from me the frustration of Eli figuring out how to open doors like he did while he should have been in bed. At no point is anything taking me from this moment, right now, when I realize that my little man - who is still labeled "failure to thrive", still being monitored and checked on regularly by his wonderful doctor - that he can reach the door knob. That he has grown. Because I think that C's mind and heart would have gone to that fact when it happened rather than how my brain nearly exploded with the annoyance that he had made that discovery.
And C would have loved to be here. He would probably have cheered and offered high-fives and just loved on him because he would have seen the good right then and not two hours later.
I know how much he wants to be here. I know how much it means to him to serve. I cannot know what it is to have your heart torn. To whisper an "I'm sorry," while turning and walking away. To want to hold onto both. To think that one has to be let down for the other.
I will never know what it is to be a man torn into two.
I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he can love so fiercely, so wholly. I cannot know how much he carries, how much his heart must hold, to love and serve both a nation and his family. His love for the other has never let me down, never made me feel less loved, less needed, less valued.
Never once has he left me with less of himself.
No sorries. Never sorries.
Tonight is about keeping my head above water. Tomorrow may be very much the same.
This. Life. Is. Hard.
But even on the hardest days, while he never fails to give me and his nation all of him, I, at the very least, owe him the best of me.
To keep loving. To keep moving forward. To keep swimming. Even when the best I can do on that day, on this day, is to just keep my head above water.