Megan takes care of the cutest people. She has three boys and one girl. Her oldest son is 11, and her baby is 1. She doesn’t know if she takes care of them, or they take care of her. I wanted to interview her because for a long time her husband has worked out of town, and I wanted to know how she copes with challenges that come with her husband’s distance work.
Early in their marriage, they had a stretch of five years where her husband was never gone overnight for work. But for the last few years, her husband has worked away. Right now he is gone for two weeks at a time, and then home for a week. Last year he was gone for three months at a time and then home for one week. He did that for a little over a year. When her second son was a baby, her husband worked out of town on long hauls as well.
She has a great physical and emotional network. Emotionally, she relies on her mom and sisters, as well as her husband. She said, “My mom is just solid emotional support, always there, super encouraging. It’s just so funny when you just need to hear, ‘You can do this. You’re doing a great job!’” Her sisters have had similar experiences to hers, with husbands working away. They are examples to her of strong independent women.
Her husband also supports her emotionally even though he can’t always be there in person. They frequently have family song and prayer in the morning on facetime, and then scriptures at night. She says he is great at encouraging, understanding, and forgiving. He gets her through meltdowns when things are really hard.
Megan says sometimes it is weird when her husband comes home, because she has seen him so much on FaceTime, but only his face. She would never see all of him. She would say, “Whoa, you have feet!” She loves to hug him and hang out with him. Megan respects the way her husband is really there for her and the kids even when he is not physically there. “I’m glad I found somebody that values the same thing, and will do a crazy job so that I could stay home with these little kids. That’s what I want for them.”
With a strong emotional support group who are physically distant, Megan is also grateful to have a local network, too. She has help if she needs it for her kids for scouts and sports. Two of her closest friends and neighbors are great to be there for her if she needs help. “I feel like if I’m melting down, or if I need to borrow something, or I need someone to grab a kid from practice, or check and see if my house is on fire, they are people that I would go to without hesitation.” She emailed me again after our interview to reinforce how much she appreciates all of her neighbor friends and her church group. She says they keep her afloat, and she loves them to pieces for it. “I have a really hard time asking for help and I’m shocked at how many people serve without being asked and without recognition. It’s humbling.”
While Megan’s husband was gone three months at a time, she had a new baby. She had to shut down her social life. She let her friends know. She stopped doing book club. She didn’t do girls nights out. She just told herself, “I’m going to do my kids, and I’m going to do my church calling. That’s it.” Low gear was hard for her, because she loves volunteering at her kids’ school. She loves to be a good neighbor. She made sure her kids were in school and doing homework and basic elementary school life. They didn’t do sports, which was hard for some of her kids. Megan thinks a lot of moms have a hard time just shutting down and saying, “No, I can’t.” It was a huge blessing to simplify and that time ended up being so peaceful and with very little stress. After a year she started adding things like sports back in when she could manage it easier.
Crafting and creative time are her release, so sometimes she will stay up late and pay for it the next day. Megan is grateful her husband says, “I didn’t marry a maid.” She said, “The biggest thing I have learned is that sometimes you have got it together, and the house is clean. The kids are clean, and you’re hitting all the marks that you want to be hitting. And sometimes you’re just kind of a huge wreck. And you know what? It just is what it is. Just flow with it. I think sometimes if you come over to my house, you get me on a great day. My floors are clean. And some days you might want to call CPS because of the condition of my house.” Megan thinks sometimes moms can feel isolated. “I think sometimes you are just knee deep in science fair projects and sickness and dentist appointments, and all these little things. You’re just like, ‘How does this add up to anything? What are we doing!?’ It’s a very thankless job.”
Sometimes Megan just misses her husband. She loves having someone else care for and entertain her kids. She loves hearing them laugh with their dad in the other room. She loves when he feeds them, and she doesn’t have to make the food. Sometimes she just wishes she had that help every day.
She likes to let her husband discipline, too. “I really like him being the bad guy, the big scary guy. I can just be the talker that will just talk for ten hours and discipline you that way. He’s a very involved, loving, affectionate dad.” She loves having someone with a different parenting style that can get through to her kids in a different way. Even though he is physically gone, he is very much involved in their kids’ day to day life.
Megan is surprised by the joy she finds in motherhood, because she didn’t really want to have kids. “I never liked kids. It is the craziest thing. I would only babysit eleven year olds that the parents went to a concert and they were asleep, or were easy.” She says when she had her first baby, she had no idea how she cared about 90% of the things she had cared about before. “I never thought it would be so rewarding and so emotional.”
Megan never thought of motherhood as a caregiving role. She and her husband cared for an older nephew for a few years, and it was a challenge. They relied on scriptures. She says it was helpful to read about other families and villages and communities who were not perfect. “In the scriptures it was hard, rough stuff at times. Hard things were said. Hard things needed to be done.” She felt like every time they read, something applied to what was going on with them.
Megan watched her mom take care of her grandparents for a long time until they passed away in her mom’s home. She has so much respect for everything her mother did at that time. She saw firsthand how much her mother truly did her absolute best could for her parents. Megan felt a responsibility to family early on because of her mom’s example.
“The best thing about being a caregiver to my kid—I can’t even fit that into a sentence. The kisses and the hugs and the compliments, hearing their way of thinking, seeing things you’ve seen your whole life, and just have them put a different spin on it.” She loves their perspective.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Megan. I honor you!