Monday, August 02, 2010

Homecoming Comforts

I await the day.

Impatiently. Expectantly. A little martyr-ishly.

He's coming home!

When he's been traveling, my children can't wait to see their daddy for many reasons. One being that they won't have to hear me whisper Daddy... so forlornly after we've burst into laughter over something, or when I'm sitting by the bathtub being splashed by the two youngest, or crawling into my boys' beds to read a chapter of Robin Hood. They nod and sigh in a commiserating fashion, but I know they're rolling their eyes on the inside.

I miss him, okay? I miss him. Mostly just him.

But I'll be honest here and confess that sometimes throughout our time apart I miss what he can do for me. What he is for me.

My pillar. My calm. My strong hands coming alongside; disciplining and comforting and fixing and washing...

I can be pretty pitiful.

But I do know this: all the crazy loneliness (though surrounded by lovely friends who visit and lunch with me, and let their little ones play with mine, even though it means Little Man might take toys right out of their hands (I'm so sorry, Mercy!)) and all of the long evenings of too late nights and too much blogging or reading or watching or wandering around the house, and all of the millions of moments when I remember how very much he does around here, how very much he is part of us and completes us and leads us... well, he deserves a few sweet reminders of our gratitude when he returns.

This post? Written by a brilliant and loving wife and mama, it is so powerfully helpful, completely honest, and really contributes to mama's sanity while Daddy's away.

But I've got a few tips for The Homecoming. Over the years, my husband has traveled a lot. And sometimes the time passes quickly for those left behind, but often the hours drag along, especially by the halfway point.

Having these special comforts to prepare is a beautiful bookend hello to our goodbye. And while sometimes I am not together enough to pull everything off before he returns, I rarely miss the opportunity to welome my best friend back to his nest with at least a couple of these simple pleasures.
  • Clean sheets. Simple, yet profoundly comforting. He's been away for a few days or a week, sleeping on a cot, or on a floor, or in someone else's too-short bed (he's 6'4"), and yes, The Homecoming means kisses and shrieks of Daddy! and hugs from a grateful wife... but it also means he can finally sleep in his own bed.
    I strip the sheets from our bed upon rising the morning of The Homecoming, and add some lavender essential oil to the washer (treating the chocolate stains first, of course. You didn't expect me to go without chocolate AND my husband for that long, did you? Goodness.) Our sheets are over seven years old, and thankfully the lower thread count has been softened by the years, but it's a tender gift to him just to be able to pull back the covers and ease his tired body onto clean, fragrant sheets pulled taut and tidy. (While cleaning the sheets and making the bed fresh, I also tidy and do a quick dusting- his unused night table collects dust while he's away, and just straightening his books and making the wood shine seems to perk up his corner.)
  • Caught-up laundry. I try to have the children's and my laundry finished by the time he returns, so that the machines are free to quickly wash and dry his pillowcases for bed that night, and to quickly remove the scent and general grit and grime of travel.
  • Tended lawn. At least the front, anyway. (And if you have an eleven-year-old who rises early because he's just so excited to mow the lawn, this comfort is much easier to accomplish!) When my husband pulls into the driveway, I know the first thing he sees is the front yard, and his mind will immediately begin calculating how soon he needs to get out there to mow, or water his little arboretum in the side yard, or work on raking up the millions of pine cones with his sons. So as a little fragmented lawn care team missing our main boss, we prepare the front yard for his return.
  • Lovely scents. Lighting a warmly scented candle is a simply beautiful touch in completing The Homecoming. Not only is the flickering flame a welcome sight, but a lovely scent can work wonders on a house that has been well-lived in during previous days, and when one hasn't, for example, emptied the trash, or vacuumed, or Little Man has just filled his diaper and therefore his room with a stinky smell. Set on the mantle where its warmth can be seen from the front door is the perfect place.
These are just a few simple comforts, I've found, that can be prepared easily, and not at the expense of my sanity and energy. The rest of our home may be disheveled, but truly, aren't our husband's eyes just watching for a smile from us before anything else?

The Homecoming beats chocolate in bed any day.

12 fellow travelers shared:

Ginger said...

Elise, as I'm reading this my hubby is out late - I can't fault him for being a slacker. In fact, I'm sooo thankful for his hard work. Thank you for the honest post (chocolate and all!) ;) I'm right there with you. Thanks too for the tips. I try to at least to brush my teeth or pop a piece of gum in my mouth and run a brush through my hair. But that's about as far as I get. So thankful for our 6' 4" men and how they complete our families! :)

Kathi @ A Mother's Prayers said...

Very similar to our Homecoming Days. Freshly washed bedclothes, laundry caught up (he will bring home plenty of duffle bags and ruck sacks full of red-dirt stained camo), ...the lawn, well, the toys are picked up (our oldest Boy just turned 8, when did your boys start mowing?), and the candle is always lit (but mine was just a cheap-o vanilla from WalMart this time, you're link has me wondering...better than Yankee???).

Wonderful post. I'm always so relieved when Brian returns home.

Linda said...

I read from a generation away Elise and am so thankful for wise young women who love well.
These are all such lovely ideas. I am sure he feels love and warmth the minute he walks in the door. Well done.

Andrea said...

so so nice, elise.
don't you just want HIM when he comes in the door?
you want HIM to meet YOUR needs?
put him to work.
ya know? ;)
i love your thoughts on HIM--welcoming him home.
so very, very thoughtful you are!! it's what i love most about you. (though there are so much more things!!)
you are the brilliant one, friend!

Amy said...

"But I'll be honest here and confess that sometimes throughout our time apart I miss what he can do for me. What he is for me.

My pillar. My calm. My strong hands coming alongside; disciplining and comforting and fixing and washing...

I can be pretty pitiful."

Yep, I'm pitiful too. But I'm doing my best to keep it on the inside and keep it all together. See, my hubby is here at home, but sort of absent at the same time. He had a huge malignant tumor removed from under his arm last week and will be going through radiation treatments soon.

Your post verbalizes a bit of how I'm missing our old routine with daddy and all his wonderful support and help, and gives me encouragement for some ways to make things a bit extra special here at home while we get used to the 'new normal' because he needs me now.

His prognosis is very good and I am so thankful for all God is doing through this, but there's a little fleshy bit of me that whines a bit and I need to stop it!

~nanashouse~ said...

Mine has been traveling a lot lately. Clean sheets, fridge stocked, and ALL problems on hold until he has had a chance to settle in and change channels. God gives grace to the weary.

emi said...

i LOVE this!!

my beloved was gone last week and like your family, we missed our precious hubby and dad *SO* much.

one of our traditions for his return is to pick him up at the airport dressed UP ... i wear his favorite dress, hair done, makeup, his favorite perfume, dangly earrings. our daughter dressed beautifully as well. and when he steps off the plane his face always lights up! it's a very simple expression of WELCOME ... and i know he loves it. =)

blessings to you, sweet one!


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One Acre Follies said...

Hi. I've been reading your blog for a while, but haven't commented before. I am so, so glad that you wrote this! I was "desperately" trying to find where I had read the tips for survival while hubby was away. I couldn't remember where I had read it. A danger of blog surfing! :) Anyway, thank you so much. My husband doesn't travel often but when he does it's for about a month at a time. I am totally pitiful! This is so helpful. Thank you!

Deidra said...

Ah...I remember those days. There is an excitement in the anticipation of the Homecoming, isn't there? The preparation. The coming together again. You've written a parable of sorts here... Beautiful.

And... I echo Andrea's words, above. *smile*

Lauren said...

Oh, what a lovely set of ideas. My DH is going away soon... I'm going to take these steps to welcome him properly when he returns!

Tina_C said...

Such wonderful ideas! My hubby when working seems like he is gone on a buisness trip. 12 hour shifts at night time half the year, when his days off come up it is like a reunion! I may have to start washing the sheets on his last work day so he can come home exhausted and smell and snuggle into clean sheets!

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