Short Stories From the Past 24 Hours

First Trip to the Zoo

Yesterday Maisy and I went to the zoo with some of the in-laws for my nephew’s second birthday.  We walked through all the exhibits, rode the train, and rode the merry go round.  While I was busy enjoying the animals and telling my niece all sorts of fun facts about each one, Maisy was busy enjoying watching the kids.  At least one of us actually observed the animal part of the zoo.

Confession From Your Average Mother

Yesterday evening I resolved to take Maisy to the park for a ride on the swing.  When this stubborn Swede resolves to do something you better believe it’s going to get done, even if it’s by tooth and nail.  So, when we show up to a partially busted baby swing I plop Maisy in anyway.  My strong 10-month-old latches her killer grip onto the chains and off she goes smiling and laughing successfully for several minutes.  Now, this next moment I’ve played over and over again in my head and I still can’t figure out how it happened, but suddenly my secure little girl has flipped over the front of the swing, done a front flip, and landed flat on her belly.  I’m frozen like a deer in headlights for a split second waiting for her to scream.  She doesn’t make a sound.  I pick up my baby girl to find her working on a mouthful of sand.  She doesn’t even look upset, just perplexed at this new in-mouth phenomenon.  As I’m cleaning her off and trying to help get the sand out of her mouth I realize she’s getting mad that I’m trying to help.  So I let her eat the sand, she deserves to eat sand if she wants after tumbling off a swing.

Mama Bear to the Rescue

Last night I’m hanging clothes on the line (yeah I forgot to do the load when I could benefit from faster drying by the sun shine) when I spot Sam in the garden.  Now that it’s warm out one of my goals is to train the dogs to stay out of the garden, so I start commanding him to get out.  Instead, he does this dance.  I command again as I start walking towards him, getting more furious by the second.  He does his dance again.  I command him yet again though I’m slowly realizing something else is going on.  He does a dance again.  Then I’m upon him, I scoop him up and plop him out of the raised bed.  My eyes settle on a patch of downy fur.  Sure enough, the dance that signals Sam has happened upon an unknown source of movement was legitimate.  I see the area surrounding the fur rustle.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  I’m trying to glimpse what I have here thinking that some of the rustling will reveal a little more.  No luck, so I grab a nearby small planter to act as a shovel to help me investigate – don’t want my fingers nipped by whatever is in there nor do I want to get diseased bird germs all over my hands.  I’m ruffling through the leaf and fur debris expecting to happen upon a wounded bird.  Instead, I uncover a whole pile of baby bunnies.  These cute little buggers are nestled right next to the row of carrots I just planted.  Of course.  If only Maisy were old enough to at least enjoy these cute little pests.  Instead, the animal enthusiast and mama bear that I am, I am standing guard over these little babes every time I have to let Sam out to pee.  Please grow up fast little bunnies.

Confession of a Sleep Deprived Mother

Just before dawn Maisy wakes to nurse yet again.  I doze off as soon as she gets to work only to wake moments later to an odd warm sensation on my leg.  In my half dream state my mind bounces through the possibilities.  Did I wet myself?  No, that’s not possible from the outer side of my leg.  Did my water break?  No, I don’t have one of those.  Is a really hot Maisy leg touching me?  No.  Did she throw up.  No.  Is my breastmilk leaking all over?  No, my breasts are too far away from my thigh (at least for now, talk to me after more babies and maybe I’ll be whistling a different tune).  Did Maisy pee?  Did her diaper fall off?  That’s an awful lot of pee to be coming from her.

I root around in the dark.  Maisy feels bone dry.  And then I feel just under the side of her rump that’s nestled in closest to me.  Soaking wet.  I have two choices:  one, wake my now sleeping baby and change everything from her diaper to her sleep sack to my clothes to the sheets; two, embrace the warmth and go to sleep.  I chose the latter.

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So I’m Married to a Touring Musician

He comes home, he leaves, and he comes back again.  After over four years of marriage I have finally adjusted to such a reality.  Just like most couples get used to parting ways on weekdays, I have gotten used to parting with my husband for a day or a few days or a week or a month…

I hear a lot of “I could never do that” or “wow that must be hard” or “how do you do it?”  You don’t have to feel bad for me.  We chose this lifestyle and it does have its disadvantages but it most certainly has its advantages.

Disadvantages

I miss the night time snuggling.  He misses the night time snuggling.  Truth is, I think he has a harder time with this one than me.  At least, when he’s gone, I get to welcome the dogs into my bed.  The best bed snuggles he gets on the road is a butt bump with his brother.

A job on the road is a dangerous one.  Fortunately I am not a worrier.  However, I do have my moments.  Sometimes I get struck with a panic that any given moment my husband’s life might be obliterated while on the road.  They say car accidents are the 9th leading cause of death.  The Citizen Way boys drive themselves across the country overnight.  Crazy folks drive around in the middle of the night you know.  Sometimes Josh will tell me of a close call.  Like one time they were trekking along as usual when a semi truck freakishly swerved from the right of them to fishtailing around the front of them and into the ditch on the other side without even the slightest moment of contact.  I lean heavily on God’s protection and fold myself into the truth that no matter what happens He will get me through it.  There is beauty in that.  Beauty in needing God that way.

Sometimes he has more fun than I do.  Sometimes they play around at an amusement park, completely bypassing all the lines with their fancy VIP passes.  Sometimes they get to go to really warm places in the dead of winter and come home with some nice tans.  Sometimes he gets really cool, free stuff.  Sometimes he gets to go to a place I’ve always wanted to visit.  I love that he gets these things!  But I do admit that I occasionally experience a trickle of jealousy when the most exciting thing I’m doing is culling a wedding.

I just don’t fit in.  When Josh is gone I am half of a couple.  This means I don’t exactly fit in with my couple’s friends and I don’t fit in with single friends.  I think I fit in better with my single friends and, admittedly, tend to enjoy outings that aren’t strictly for the couples more than those that are while Josh is away.  In the early days of Josh hitting the road I would jump at any invitation to be out with people.  Not too long into my readiness though did I find it was hard to always be the single one at the couple’s outings.  I found myself feeling like a little black sheep that people felt sorry for but no one really knew what to do with.  More significantly, I found I became more homesick for Josh.  Sometimes this was a fond homesickness, I longed for him to come home.  Other times I grew frustrated that I didn’t get to be normal and have him around always like my other friends.  You can imagine that the latter was particularly grievous to our relationship.  Bummer for Josh to all of a sudden have a frustrated wife when he didn’t do anything wrong.  All that being said, there are so many times when I love going to couples outings so don’t be scared to invite me!  If I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it I’ll just hang back.

I’m stuck with the full load of responsibility.  When Josh is gone, especially for long periods of time, I soon get stressed by the load that falls on my shoulders.  I am suddenly also in charge of the matters Josh consistently takes care of.  As a result of this phenomenon I happened to take on most of the load on a daily basis.  This way, when he’s gone, I don’t get hit so hard with lots of extra responsibilities, I just get hit with the full load I normally handle.

Communication gets tough.  Those of you who are married know how important good communication is.  When Josh is on the road we are left to the occasional phone call and texting.  Of course this is helpful, but phone calls can only dig so deep.  I’ve come to find that certain good communication habits fall by the wayside when they haven’t been practiced even for a little while.  When we get back together we are suddenly held accountable again for body language or tone subtleties that get masked by a phone call. We tend to misunderstand or misread each other for a good chunk of time before we get adjusted back to good communication habits.  We also find just how much is left out of our phone conversations.  After all, it’s hard for Josh to be as transparent and sociable with me when a whole van of dudes will hear what he tells me too.

Advantages

I can get lots done when he’s gone.  Sometimes friends ask me how I possibly manage to be so stinking productive.  Well, the answer is, I am frequently left to my own devices and a girl’s gotta do something!  This is how I can tackle a photography business, freelance photography work, DIY projects, homesteading, cooking and baking, blogging, writing, and other varieties of productiveness that come my way.  This is, perhaps, the perk I enjoy most about our unique marriage.  I love feeling useful and like I’ve accomplished a lot in one day!  I love that in one day I can get all my photography work done, make a homemade meal from scratch, finish a DIY project or two, take the dogs to the dog park, and still sit down and read at the end of the day.

I get to be Miss Independent when he’s gone.  I basically get to live like a single person while Josh is away.  I get to do what I want, when I want, with who I want.  Sometimes I like to go out with my single friends while Josh is on the road.  Sometimes I rearrange the house.  Sometimes I let the house be messy.  And sometimes I clean the place until it’s sparkling.  Sometimes I like to watch Tangled three nights in a row.  Sometimes I like to make a salad the way I like it.  Sometimes I take the dogs for a long walk along the routes Josh hates.  Sometimes I play my favorite music very loud and dance as undignified as possible.  Sometimes I sit in complete silence for as long as I want.

Alone time is good.  I’m not sure if it’s because of my lifestyle that I value alone time and quiet time so much or if it’s the way I was from the beginning, but all I know is the moment Josh comes home I am struck my how much more noisy my life gets.  When it’s just me at the house I get to choose any and all noise that fills my ears.  Then, suddenly, when Josh gets back my whole day is packed with music or other noise – sometimes I even experience the noise through the night with heavy breathing or as I try to lay down to sleep while he’s still working on a song in his studio.  If Josh isn’t actively writing or rehearsing a song, teaching music lessons, or performing on stage he’s usually still singing some song as he goes about his day.  What I’ve learned in all this is that, eventually, even music just becomes noise.  The bit I miss least when Josh is gone is the repetitive song playing.  When he’s recording or practicing a song I hear the same one line of melody so many times that my feelings towards that line of notes is no different than to how I would respond to a broken record or someone unrelentingly knocking on my front door for an hour.  This admittance pains me because I feel guilty for feeling this way – especially when most folks comment on how I’m so lucky to have my house filled with live music all the time.  I will admit that the first time and even up to the fifth or sixth time I’ve heard the same song in a row I feel blessed and privileged… it’s when the song seems like it’s never going to end that my seams start to split.

The reunions are always incredible.  They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  Well I’d say Josh and I are well advanced in fondness due to all the time spent apart!  Every time he leaves I am now in the habit if switching gears to life as an off-the-market single woman.  It’s like changing clothes to me now.  Simply switching gears.  My heart lives in this interestingly content place of getting things done, hanging with the dogs or friends, or soaking up some alone time while also wholly looking forward to the moment he walks back through the front doors and into my longing arms.  It feels like the honeymoon stage all over again!  You may be thinking, well I’m sure glad I’m not in the honeymoon phase anymore!  We were way too emotionally insane and unbalanced to want to go back to that!  Let me tell you a secret, this perpetual “honeymoon phase” of ours is a different kind of animal.  Instead of coupling the intense emotional excitement and passion with so much miscommunication and misunderstanding we get only the former!  Cool huh?  Perhaps this sounds totally not fun to you, but I’ve come to love the emotional highs and lows.  Also, to be completely transparent, good ‘ol hanky panky after a forced period of time away is real nice.

Sometimes I get to go with.  For every tour he’s a part of I make a point to make it out to at least one show.  Even this small consolation of a free concert is enough to be a perk but it’s the overwhelming pride and joy I experience as I watch the world’s kindest and most adorable man living his dream out on stage that really takes the cake.  And to top it off, sometimes I even get the opportunity to go with to a really snazzy event or to an awesome location.  Some of my favorite “business” trips with Josh have been to the KLOVE Fan Awards and to the SESAC Awards Ceremony.

Love and Friendship

Even with all of the advantages to our marital lifestyle I must admit I do get significantly lonely when Josh is gone.  It is just me and the dogs at home after all and they aren’t much for conversation.  I know some people are unsure what to do with a lady in a situation like mine.  Do we invite her or not?  If I could choose, I would always be invited!  Even if I can’t make it I am always filled up with warm tingles when I am invited.  The only other alternative is me pestering all you folks to hang out with me and with a husband gone so frequently that truly gets exhausting!  Moral of the story, the best way to love on this lonesome wife is to invite me for a hang.

Moving Forward…

And now we just had a baby, a little girl.  I’m sure a lot of these advantages and disadvantages will start looking very different.  And I’ll probably have more to add now that we have Maisy around too.  Maybe I’ll fill you in after we’ve experienced a couple rounds of Papa being away 🙂

 

The Life of a Musician’s Wife

First, a preparatory note, I am going to be very transparent with you all today.

I get two main questions now-a-days. From those who don’t know me personally, “what is it like being married to a famous person?” From people who know me, “how have you been doing with Josh being gone?”

Josh is gone about 3 – 4 days every week and when he is on tour he is gone for a week or a month at a time. If you do the math, that means he’s gone at least half the year.

So, what is it like being married to a famous person? It’s just marriage but, instead of eating dinner and sharing a bed with my husband every night, I regularly don’t see him for days.

This makes for a marriage of a whole different sort. I used to say that at least army wives had it harder. But now that our new reality causes for a lot more away time than before they put out “Should’ve Been Me,” I’m not so sure that’s true. Instead of worrying about my husband for a period of deployment and then readjusting when he gets home, I have the potential to worry about him all the time and we are readjusting every time he gets home. To put it in perspective, if automobile accidents are the #1 cause of death then perhaps my husband’s job is more dangerous – most of their time is spent driving from venue to venue. And whenever he gets home it’s not just me readjusting to having him around and him readjusting to having a wife but we have to relearn each other since we are both taking separate journeys and experiencing different life-changing scenarios that change us in separate ways.

How have you been doing with Josh being gone? It’s actually been all over the place. Some days I’m so lonely I can’t stand it. On those days I usually have a hard time pulling myself out of bed and then I mope around mumbling incoherently to my dogs while effectively avoiding working for as long as possible. Other days I love the seemingly “single” life I lead when he’s gone. I get to choose my own schedule, play my music loud, I can leave my house messy or keep it spotless, and no one else is responsible for my mood but me. But for the most part it is just a daily grind of working all day, walking the dogs before supper, eating supper and either reading, watching something, or working some more until the day is over.

On New Years Eve 2012 I was asked what my favorite part of 2012 was and I realized that I didn’t have as many forthcoming thoughts as usual. Upon further reflection I realized it’s because outstanding memories are those times spend with a loved one that became extraordinary because of spontaneous adventures, great conversation, or laughter. Good times with Josh have most often been the source of those remarkable memories for the past couple of years so with him gone so often I have come to better understand the reality of a daily grind and how, without bench marker memories along the way, a whole year looks like a blur of sameness.

There are plenty of benefits to our lifestyle though. With Josh gone increasingly I have been able to fill my time building my photography business, writing children’s books, investing in friendships, getting involved in my church, and completing other projects that would have not been possible if I had been spending all that time with him. I have been able to step out of me and us to better notice those around me and serve them when I can. Our hearts grow fonder towards each other with each absence so it’s like our love for each other is growing exponentially. There is something so special about that first embrace when he comes home. There is so much more joy in our house with both of us living out God’s purposes for us. And finally, I have the joy of not only seeing my husband living his dream but changing the lives of so many people, and that is the greatest reward a wife could ask for. The time apart is absolutely worth it for the kingdom. And though it may not be a romantic journey for a marriage but marriage is about learning to love more like God anyway and I think this journey is definitely doing just that for us.

Miss Independent is Back

I have seen Josh for about five whole days in the last month and a half or so.  For this Redeemed Tour Citizen Way started up in our neck of the woods then headed down south, all the way west, up to Washington and over to Montana and then, finally, one month later I picked him up at a McDonald’s off the freeway in MN.  He had gone a total of around 8094 miles and 128 hours of driving for 19 shows at 19 different venues in 12 different states in 31 days and only slept 2 – 5 hours per night.  Josh and Ben Blascoe split all those miles and all those hours in the driver’s seat of their 15 passenger van.

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 9.48.10 AMThis map shows the first 31 days of the tour, February 1 – March 4.

Needless to say, after all those miles with high energy and sold out shows in so many cities and states Josh was in need of some serious sleep.  Instead, he meets me in Minnesota to sing for my Grandma’s memorial service.  For him this meant sacrificing his big need for rest and pouring any remaining energy into loving on me, working on memorial service details, and entertaining my extended family.  And he did it all with such grace and love.  He is incredible.

If you haven’t guessed, marriage for us is different.

Because of all our time apart and weeks spent fending for myself I have found that I have reconnected with the little Miss Independent from my teenage years.  While Josh is gone I adopt a different lifestyle; I work all morning, around 1 or 2 I take a break or a nap, I get back to work, and come evening I read a book until I’m sleepy.  I mix it up with the occasional hang with a friend, a walk with the dogs, a home project, or some knitting.  It’s seems to be a very healthy pattern.  Instead of powering through 8 – 10 hours of work every day I put in 4 or 5, take a break so I can power back up and get excited and inspired, then I work the remaining 4 to 5 hours.

I also have a whole manner of affairs to tend to on my own.  Because of these little items I have to work on I have been finding that at the end of every day I feel very accomplished.  By sweeping, doing the dishes, buying groceries, juicing, getting the oil changed, shoveling the driveway, clipping the dog’s nails, or paying bills I can feel like I’ve been productive even if I’ve only been working on editing the same wedding for three days straight.

Then Josh comes home and we try to squeeze in as much togetherness as my work load can afford.  It’s a confusing back and forth because on one had I’m left to fend for myself and on the other hand I suddenly have someone around 24/7.  Talk about some whiplash.  We’re still navigating how to go between these two extremes in the ways that are easiest and most beneficial for both of us.  For the rest of this Redeemed Tour the art of this back-and-forth will be put to the test.  According to the schedule Josh is gone 4 – 5 days at a time then he’s home for 2 – 3.  As for today and the rest of this week I am Miss Independent, then come Monday I am a Mrs again for a couple of days 😉