A Life Without My Family

I had a unique experience this last weekend.

I flew solo--no wife and no kid. For some of you, this might be a regular occurrence; but for me, it was a first-time being home and having them leave me. I have left them before, but that's different.

"Where did your wife go?"

Thankfully, she left for a positive reason. I encouraged her to go.

She ventured out on her own (with our son) to a Mary Kay Career Conference in Mobile, AL. I am very proud of her for doing this! When she signed up for Mary Kay, I told her I supported her, and I believed she could succeed. Any business venture carries a degree of risk, but I truly believe Elizabeth has success in her DNA. That's not a scientific statement--it's a figure of speech. 

So yes, I encouraged her to go. Since I recently started a new job, I thought it was best that I not take time off; so I stayed home and took care of the dogs.

When they left, I felt a strange mixture of emotions. First, I was sad that my family was leaving me for several days. I like them (understatement). Second though, I was a little pumped about having uninterrupted days in front of me to do "whatever I wanted". It was a strange mixture of sad and excited, and all of it was new to me because, as I said earlier, this was a new experience for me.

I won't bore you with the play-by-play of everything I did while they were gone, because I want to focus on the "take home message" from their absence.

You've probably heard the saying, "You don't really know what you have until you lose it." I cannot overemphasize how true that is! I have always loved my family and cherished my time with them, but having them leave was a sharp reminder of how blessed I really am.

Here is a brief list of the things I considered as I lived my quasi-bachelor weekend:

#1 Life is about relationships.

If I had to choose my greatest dissatisfaction with our American society today, it would be that people are grappling so much for possessions and status that they forget human life climaxes within interpersonal relationships. You might enjoy your car and your house, but those won't satisfy the innate longing in your mind/soul for relationships of reciprocally demonstrated love.

I did not miss my wife simply for the fact that I had to make my own dinner and clean up my own messes. Those things are petty. I missed coming home and kissing my wife and having her and my son ask me how my day was. I missed playing with my son, reading him books, and having him say "I love you" when I put him to sleep at night. If I had to lose all my possessions to keep these treasures, I would make that decision in an instant.

#2 "Distance makes the heart(s) grow fonder."

It's an old adage, but it remains in our speech because it's true. If you truly enjoy someone, their absence will cause you to become more thankful for them.

Elizabeth and I had plenty of experience with "distance" when we were dating. For years we maintained our relationship over a telephone or using instant messaging. Then the year prior to our marriage we only saw each other on the weekend since we lived two hours away from each other. We are all too familiar with being apart.

Although this might seem like a negative, we both agreed that talking each night on the phone and missing each other was a bittersweet reminder of those days gone by. It reminded us that we're still deeply in love. 

#3 My wife is awesome.

I already knew this. Why do you think I married her? Because I thought she was mediocre or average? Ya, no. She amazes me.

She mustered up the courage to pack a car and drive 8 hours on her own with a almost-three-year-old boy in the backseat to get to a conference she had never been to just to accomplish a goal that she set for herself. Now you might be thinking, "What did she do with the kid during the conference?" That's very insightful of you to ask. Her parents live nearby where the conference was held, so they stayed with them and Micah got to hang out with the grandparents (aka "Nana and Papa").

I suppose there are men who would prefer their wives to be helpless and dependent on them. I like when my wife wants my help, and I enjoy helping her and doing things for her; but I also enjoy the fact that my wife has her independence enough to accomplish things on her own. I want her to want me because she wants me, not because she needs me.

#4 My dogs are out of shape.

I normally jog by myself, but since the dogs were attention-starved, I decided to take them jogging with me. I normally go 1-1.5 miles and call it enough torture for one day. As it turns out, my dogs need to start jogging more. At the beginning they were pulling me, and by the end I was pulling them.

#5 Friends are great.

Even without my better half, my friends were still willing to hang out with me. It was nice to have people offer to spend time with me because they knew I was "all alone". Sure, I could have gone home and wasted the night away in front of the television, but instead I had lunch with friends on Sunday and watched some NCAA basketball with some other friends that night. Friends are key.

It's comforting to know that my friends are actually my friends and not just tolerating me because they are friends with Elizabeth. I consider myself fortunate.

Conclusion:

I'm not asking my wife to leave again any time soon. Under other circumstances, I would have gone with her; but this was a good experience for both of us because it pushed us a little out of our comfort zones. I firmly believe comfort zones are the factories of complacency and mediocrity, so I try not to spend most of my time there.

When my family came home, I hugged them a little tighter. No blessing I have today is promised to me tomorrow, so I want them to know every day that they mean the more than the world to me.

Image credit:
Cartoon guy image from http://www.clker.com/clipart-man-cartoon.html

Legal stuff:
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