Absence Makes the Heart Grow

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don’t know if I agree with that. I mean, I understand the meaning behind the phrase, but I don’t think it actually makes us grow fonder. If anything, I think it reminds us of something that is already deeply rooted in our being. Something that we sometimes need to be reminded of.

As I’m sitting here in a cafe on a street in Wisconsin, watching the snow swirling around and making an earnest effort to let it’s presence be known I’m mindful of the fact that every few minutes my mind drifts to Chris and the kids and the fact that I miss them so much right now.

I was looking forward to my time away because, frankly, I was feeling a bit frazzled. Our kids are at an age where they’re just needing us a lot, we live in a small space where it frequently feels like we’re always stepping on something that shouldn’t be where it is, and there is always some level of noise. I was looking forward to having time away for my brain to rest and be quiet and be refreshed.

I’m so over it.

Whenever I’m away from Chris for even a few days I’m reminded of one simple fact.

We need each other.

I’m not talking about needing each other in a way where we’re dependent on each other for our sense of security. I’m talking about needing each other like we need air. It’s in times like this where I am so deeply reminded of what it means to become one with someone else. There are a lot of times where I look at our individual persons, our personalities, and I see how strong we each are on our own. How different we are from each other. How we feel differently about a lot of things. Then I think about how often we grind against each other, disagreeing on things, but coming to a place where we can respect and love each other and our feelings and ideals and still be so very compatible. Not everyone can do that. Some people need to be so similar to their spouse that they are almost identical. Chris and I often seem so opposite that it seems impossible that things should work as well as they do. I sometimes describe us like oil and vinegar. Oil and vinegar generally push away from each other. They’re very different substances. But, when you shake them up together you can get some really amazing salad dressing.

In these times apart I get it. I get why God chose us for each other. I get why we work. And I am so very thankful. We challenge each other, but we’re soft in all the right ways. Some friends of ours in Haiti who have come along side us and supported our marriage when we needed a little extra help recently told us that they have often commented to each other that Chris and I are always in each other’s corner, and what a rare and special thing that is.

As I keep counting the days until I get home I’m very aware that I’m missing part of myself and just how much better life is when Chris and I are together. Yes, we bicker and we have to work through stuff. We take each other for granted. We get bored and in a rut. But, at the core, we work. I can’t wait to get home to my other half, literally.

And my kids.

My sweet kids.

My kids that are constantly needing our attention or fighting with each other or crying or… I think it’s easy to get exhausted with the routine of life with small kids. But, being away from them for this long is breaking my heart. I hear Olivia’s voice on the phone and she sounds two years younger because she’s having a hard time and I try to stifle tears to be strong for the two of us. I know she is missing me. I can hear it in every word she speaks and Chris tells me about the non-normal things that are going on with her little self. I know it’s because I’m not there and I hate knowing that my absence is causing it. The longest I’ve been away from her is two weeks. She’s older now. She understands that I’m gone for a while and she’s feeling that deeply. Ugh.

Alex. Alex is growing like crazy right now. Chris told me the other day that he’s grown almost an inch in the last few weeks. Every day he’s doing something new and different. And I’m missing it. He’s needy and clingy and Chris is doing such a good job of trying to be sensitive to that. Unlike his sister, he’s not old enough to understand why I’m gone. He just knows I’m not there and he doesn’t know why.

I even miss Ryan, which may sound crazy, but he’s become a part of the every day hum of our family. He fits in and helps out and is just there in all the best ways. I realized that he had his own special place in the mix when we started cooking in my smallish kitchen together and that it worked. I can’t cook with anyone. Except, I guess, Ryan :)

This is too long. 18 days is too long. I mean, I can do it. We can do it. But it’s too long. I told Chris the other day that I don’t want to do this again. I don’t want either of us to be away from the other or our kids for this long again while they’re young. It’s not good. It hurts. It’s hard.

I want to hear Olivia’s constant hum of noise, even if she’s not saying anything to anyone in particular. I want to hear Alex say “Mama!” as he stands next to my chair with his arms stretched up, just because he needs a cuddle. I want to hear my kids laugh and squeal as they jump on a bed together. I want to be climbing over each other and to hold on tight and to wipe the table after the dinner shrapnel is spread around and to get annoyed at the mess that comes with having an active family.

So yes, the count down is on. This time next week I will be arriving in Haiti. I will be hugging my husband and eagerly wanting the drive home to go faster so I can hug my kids. I can’t promise there won’t be tears. I just know it’s going to feel so good to be home.

~Leslie

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

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