Going, Going… oh, you're not Gone, Yet?
Yin and Yang. I guess that’s how you could describe Glenn and I… or the two sides of a battery at times - positive and negative. I am always trying to find the silver lining in situations and Glenn is used to seeing the world in the eyes from the 4% - the police world. I guess that’s what you get when you marry a social worker and a police officer, hey? Or now I should say police officer turned UN Bomb Tech deployed in Africa.
I don’t watch the news - like ever! Ever since I became the story (after agreeing to go public with my name from teacher perpetuated childhood sexual abuse in 1994), I have seen how the media plays with words to fit their agenda. So I didn’t know COVID was coming… I just knew Glenn was coming back home cause we had been counting down the days!. So, when he started bugging me about the toilet paper I was confused and annoyed.
And then I turned my TV on and Glenn’s porcelain-God needs flew out the window… I found out I was becoming a Grade 2 and 4 teacher! With technology as my tool!!!! The needs of my kids flopped between the needs of my business and my brain and my heart jumped from the sadness of lost memories, field trips and lessons to frustrations of not meeting the needs of my clients, even more, money deadlines dwindling and a sense of failure growing. How was I going to teach… subjects?!?
Oh, right, and back to a travelling husband…
The world of Airdrie started to shut down on March 11. Glenn’s flight was due to leave Bamako on March 13. Would he be coming home? Borders talked about being shut down between countries. Glenn was flying from Gao, Mali to Bamako to Paris to Toronto to Calgary …. Would we be able to see him? It had been 4 months away this time.
Glenn had stayed away longer because instead of COVID we were planning on navigating dolphins and sharks and pigs! Oh My! Our trip to the Bahamas! What was going to happen to that? How do I start to prepare my kids for this conversation without fearmongering…
TIPS on Communicating with KIDS about tough conversations
Watch for upcoming co-coaching with kids series!!
#1. Check my own crap. If I’m carrying my own fears into our conversation - kids are like heat-sensing missiles. Even the best flares thrown in every direction won’t misdirect them. So the best thing to do to make sure that this is about THEM and to ask QUESTIONS.
#2. Always let them know they are safe and loved. I say this at least twice in every tough conversation - to start it off and to end it. Depending on the length of our chat I will casually throw it throughout too.
#3. Feelings have friends. A great movie to talk about combination feelings is Disney’s Inside Out. We have our basic core emotions but did you know that you can be happy and sad at the same moment? Angry and excited? Increasing your vocabulary on emotions is a great tool in expressing yourself.
#4. Active Listening. Have you ever had someone try and just fix your ‘problem’? Without hearing what you have to say about it in the first place? The reason we are given one mouth and 2 ears is to truly give someone space and just hear what each other has to say. Even if that just comes in the form of tears. Sometimes kids don’t know how to form their feelings into words. They just might need to grunt it out or cry or scream - hold space for them.
Glenn landed home safe and we found out that 3 days after he left Bamako they closed the airport! Good news for us but not for the rest of his team - they have indefinite stays there while this COVID thing gets figured out. The silver lining for Jody on this is that we are all together… the dark lining for Glenn means this is at $0 pay.
We have managed the past 3 months just like I assume all of you have - laughter, tears, board games, wine, meltdowns. And that was just the first week! To say this has been a whole new ride is an understatement! Then add in elements of police hate sentiment and as an ex-police wife but always pro-military, my anxiety was going through the roof! I’ll save another blog to write about that experience and I’d love to hear from some other police spouses about their stories of survival… please subscribe and email me!
UH OH, HERE HE GOES OR DOES HE?
But now, here we are at the end of Glenns “stay” and I find that we are in a different holding pattern and here is our biggest coping tool: GRATITUDE. Let me explain.
For the past 3 weeks, Glenn’s company has been working hard to get him back to Africa. But there are still no international commercial flights. So, he will be flying through the UN Food Program in order to relieve his teammates who have been stuck on base, some for 7 months! Even his mate, Tim, missed the birth of his first baby boy.
Every Monday we ride the wave of goodbyes and re-do laundry and watch Daddy pack his bags. Every Monday we have our ‘last family dinner’ and snuggles on the couches and go to bed with alarms set for the 3 am airport ride and every Tuesday morning at 3 am we crawl back into bed, coming down off a goodbye fear with one more bonus week gained. It is hard. It is an emotional rollercoaster. We could easily choose to not get on this wave and assume he’s not leaving - cause that’s the pattern. But it would be that one time we didn’t take the extra hugs that his flights would follow through and we would have panicked rushed hugs at the airport gate.
So, we are living in a space of gratitude for the bonus weeks knowing full well that the space beside my bed will be empty again and we will be counting down the days for him to come back home.