Archive for the ‘Sudan’ Category

Missing Daddy

Blake is in Africa for a month.  He’s building a school in South Sudan.  (You can read his updates from the field on Rebuild Sudan’s blog.)  He’s been away almost two weeks now and I’m adjusting to single motherhood. Exhausted.  Single parents are saints, I tell you.

Overall, Milo is doing okay with Daddy’s absence, but he’s definitely not the same.  On the day Blake left, we took Daddy to the airport and said goodbye.  Milo didn’t understand what was going on until that afternoon, when he looked for Daddy in every room in the house, but couldn’t find him.  It was a distressing moment.  Daddy, one of Milo’s most important objects of permanence, was no longer here.

Now, Milo won’t let me leave his sight.  Friends and family had lined up to help during this month of Blake’s absence, but having someone else babysit has been traumatic for Milo.  Previously, he’s been okay as long as he was familiar with the person babysitting him.  (The one exception has been my mother, but that’s for another post.  Tiger Grandmother, anyone?)  Last week, a friend was watching Milo so that I could go to a yoga class.  It was the mom of one of Milo’s playmates, someone he saw a few times a week.  Thirty minutes after dropping him off (and 10 minutes into the yoga class), I got the call: Milo is freaking out.

In general, Milo is definitely more sensitive than he was when Daddy was around.  Previously, he was pretty easy going.  Other moms noted that he didn’t even cry when he fell down.  He would just pick himself up and keep going.  Now, he’s much more prone to weepy outbursts.  Falling, tripping, moments of frustration normal to toddlerhood–any of these now set him off.  And it may be something in my reaction too that feeds his sensitivity.  I’m perhaps a bit too eager to pick him up and hug him these days.  Who knows?

One thing I’ve noticed is Milo’s increased attachment to Baby, his doll.  (See previous post, A Doll for Milo.)  Before Daddy left, Milo would hang onto Baby only around naps and bedtime.  Now he carries Baby around everywhere.  He wants to take him to the store, to visit friends, to the sand box, to potty.  Today, he even wanted to bring Baby into the shower.  Baby has become a new object of permanence.  But he can’t replace Daddy!

Blake does call when he can and Milo enjoys listening to Daddy’s voice over the phone.  We did managed to skype once.  Milo kept kissing Daddy’s face on the computer screen.  In the meantime, we’re keeping busy, doing fun things: lots of play dates, bowling, a trip to Boston’s Children Museum, Milo’s first parade.  We will be visiting friends who live on a farm this week.  Next week, Grandma comes for a visit.  We’re so proud of Blake and all his work building this school in Sudan.  But if Milo could count, he’d be counting the days until Daddy comes home.

Milo and Baby at the Memorial Day parade in Nashua, NH.

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Patient Penelope

Hubby is scheduled to return from Sudan tomorrow, but knowing how difficult it is to travel in Africa, there’s a good possibility he’ll be delayed.  I haven’t heard from him in 4 days, which makes me a little anxious.  I tell myself that internet and phones are spotty so that he can’t always get in touch with me when convenient.  Nothing is convenient while traveling in Africa!  So perhaps the earliest I may hear from him may be when he lands in Frankfurt, provided his computer is charged and there’s wifi in the airport.  If none of those things fall into place, then I’ll just show up at SFO tomorrow afternoon and hope he comes off the plane.

I have a very active imagination.  Since I was a child, I would imagine worst case scenarios to test myself, to see if I was prepared for the worst.   If my family got into a car crash and both my parents were killed, would my brother and I be able to hitchhike out of this desert to safety?  Morbid kid, I know.  

I still do this imagining, in situations like this, when my husband has been traveling around Africa and hasn’t been in contact for 4 days.  What if that crickety old propeller plane runs out of gas in midair?  What if he gets eaten by a crocodile?  Could I finish packing up our lives, drive a big truck across the country, help my parents retire, bear and raise this baby completely on my own?

More often than not, the answer to my worst case imaginings is: I don’t know.  

This, of course, makes my imaginings a complete waste of time.  But putting aside my worst case fears doesn’t mean there isn’t still  the hard work of waiting, hoping, and clinging to the faith that Hubby will walk off that plane tomorrow, dirty and smelly and changed by his experience, but otherwise whole.

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Sudan and Solitude

Hubby is in Sudan this week.  He’s with a group of folks hoping to build a school in the village of Jalle, in Southern Sudan, an area devastated by a long civil war which only recently reached a tenuous peace agreement in 2005.  Hubby is volunteering for a group called Rebuild Sudan, founded by one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.  (If you’re not familiar with the Lost Boys, it’s a pretty incredible and tragic history of this region.)  This trip is a short reconnaissance trip to scope out the region and get some preliminary ideas of how to build the school.

It’s Hubby’s first trip to Africa and he’s having a blast.  The electricity and internet access is spotty, so I don’t hear from him everyday, but he keeps me updated as he can to let me know he’s safe.  We were thinking we would spend 6 months to a year in Sudan helping to build the Jalle school, but now that we’re pregnant, those plans have been put on hold.  I was originally suppose to join Hubby on this reconnaissance trip, but now I’m stuck at home packing.  

Actually, I’m procrastinating packing, but the time to myself has been nice.  I’m reading and blogging, I’m seeing friends everyday and people have been buying me lunch (since we’re leaving town in a few weeks) and I get to eat all the foods that Hubby doesn’t like.  Right now, I’m having a peanut butter & banana sandwich and it’s yummy.

In some ways, I’m sad that I can’t be in Sudan alongside Hubby and share this experience together.  In other ways, I really appreciate the separation.  This works well for our marriage.

At our wedding, we had this passage read from Rilke’s On Love and Other Difficulties:

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.  A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development.  But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

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