I had big intentions tonight of publishing a how-to guide to playing Headbanz with my children, should you ever find yourself in that position.
I may still....standby.
In the meantime, when I arrived home from work, Hubs already had the kidlets fed and they were playing out in the yard while he assembled a newly purchased basketball hoop, which for context, the clerk at the sporting goods store had named "The Beast", a lone leftover they didn't even put on display because it was a giant expensive pain in the ass - so he offered it up at a hefty discount just to be rid of it.
If you know hubs' experience in the tool chest department, you know the state he was in mid-assembly of this thing. He's the guy who will pay extra for the floor model so he doesn't have to put stuff together. But he's getting better. He asked for my extra arms to get some bolts in, and only had to tear apart ONE mechanism that he'd assembled incorrectly.
Super proud of him. Really.
After a mish-mosh of baby waking up from nap and bribing big brother to hold him while I helped Dad, it was finally finished. I told the boys that one of them needed to follow me in the house to get a garbage bag to pick up the miscellaneous packaging material, and whomever didn't come in with me could pick up all the toys and put them back in their homes. This is my technique for getting things done with little argument. Give two options for equally unpleasant jobs and they seem to silently figure out who will do what.
Dishes, feeding, diaper change. Soon I returned to the driveway to see what the hold up was since it was getting dark.
Jason was on the phone. The boys were testing out the new hoop.
"Fatality? Ok, call [other officer #1 and other officer #2], and I'll be on my way."
Vehicle crash. He's on a specialty team and with someone was no longer among the living it was his job to go figure out why. He jetted inside, slipped on his uniform and was gone.
Just like that.
I herded the kids in for homework and jammies and settled in to get baby to sleep for the night. I checked our local news update to see where the crash was so I'd know how far away from home he was, where his job had taken him tonight, how bad it was, whether I thought he might slip in bed before midnight.
He had plans to go to the gym after the basketball hoop fiasco. He never takes his phone to the gym. If he'd gotten it together quicker he'd have never gotten that call. He'd be home and we'd be kicked back on the couch spending time together for the first time this week because of our crazy schedules that take us opposite directions all but 2 days a week.
But instead he did take that call, and he went, because it's his duty. Even on his day off. There was no questioning, no arguing, no planning for his absence. We've gotten past that point as a team. When he has to go he just goes....and he knows that I'm keeping the proverbial home fires burning for his return.
That's not to say there's not hiccups. One morning not too long ago he failed to come home at his scheduled 2am end of shift. No call...no nothing. I finally sent him a text at 3:30, another at 4 something threatening that if he didn't respond I would start making phone calls. He eventually responded with only, "I'm fine. Go to bed." To date I've prided myself in not being "that wife" that bothers dispatch about his location when he doesn't call me, though the ladies are like family and insist that it would never be a bother. One time only have I made that call when he was long overdue from a recovery dive for a drowning victim in the river, far outside our area and outside cell range.
So. Here I sit waiting patiently, for who knows how long, while he is out dealing with the worst kind of bad there is....along with his brothers in brown who will notify families and measure and calculate and console and write reports and hopefully make whatever stretch of road safer one day. I sit and wish that it was 24 hours ago and we were still playing Headbanz with the kids, and Clayton was still playing in true Clayton style:
If you ever find yourself playing with Clayton, listen to what he asks HE is. For example he will look right at me and say "Am I a ladder?"
This almost guarantees that I am a ladder.
The remainder of the game is spent with them offering up wholly conflicting or inaccurate answers to your yes/no questions.
"Am I an animal?"
"Would you eat me for dinner?"
"Do I live in America?"
"Well, they never really lived, but they used to live EVERYWHERE. [Dramatic hand gestures]"
[Daddy interjects] "No, if I had to guess I'd say they live in England."
Anyhoo...turns out I was a DRAGON....and it dawned on me (again) why we don't have family game night very often.
But when we do it's super fun. And I'm glad that we can wedge one in occasionally between the chaos and the call-outs and that we can [at least I think] make it appear to our kids like we're relatively normal. That it's not a big deal. No freakouts, no drama about it. It just IS. We adjust. We make do. We make changes so that families who need help get it.
We'll have game night again. That family won't. Does it make me miss my husband any less? No. But this is the life we signed up for. It's why we're here. I don't think either of us could imagine it any other way. Wait, no....Hubs imagines being a stay-at-home-dad all the time. It makes me appreciate ALL the folks who put their own lives on hold, working stupid shifts around the clock, all to ensure that the rest of us are safe and following the rules. The sacrifice goes beyond the person working, and I thank their families for giving up time with them for our sake as well.
As for our kids? They're for the most part clueless as to the degree of ugliness that either of us encounters professionally. But they do know that life is one part work, one part fun, and 100% family and love. That's the best lesson I can think of to drill into their little brains at this point. One day they'll know differently, but for now it's enough.