Since Mom and Jo left for Guatemala, the question everyone is asking is “Do you miss them?” We get asked this by friends and neighbors, by each other, even by Mom and Jo themselves when we catch them in a video call.
The answer is, of course: Nope, not really.
All right, fine—YES!!
Because let’s face it. Jo’s a fairly obnoxious person most of the time, but I do miss having the annoying little squirt around 24/7. She does have her good points, after all, and it’s pretty nice to have someone else who will wash my laundry.
But while we miss Jo more than we’ll ever admit to, Mom’s absence is the one that’s gotten to us the most. Jo had her share of jobs and chores we’re having to take care of, but Mom ran EVERYTHING.
Meals. School. Errands. Gardening and weeding. Sibling disputes. Crisis control.
We’re having to pick up the slack, and it hasn’t always been easy.
It helps a lot that Mom did plenty of planning and preparation beforehand to make some of these jobs easier. Meals, for instance, have really been simplified by having a freezer stocked with easy meals like sloppy joes and pot roasts that can be cooked up for supper with the minimum of effort. She also did the grocery shopping before she left and made sure we had plenty of fresh fruits and veggies hanging around for us to choose from so we weren’t eating out of jars the whole time. Handier yet, she even made a list of possible meal options so we don’t even have to decide what we’re going to make and if we have the stuff to make it with.
Mom’s list makes menu planning simple. We sit down to plan the next day every evening, and when it comes to meals, we pick a few things off the list and write them down on the greaseboard.
School is another area where we’re missing having Mom around. Most of it is done without her direct supervision normally, but she still comes through and corrects and grades everything. That job we’re trying to divvy up between us as best as can and as far as is appropriate (having Cob correct Skinny’s high school math probably isn’t the smartest), but most of it gets left for Dad and I to do when we get home from work.
KP and feeding the dogs and chickens aren’t really a big deal, but getting bathrooms cleaned and bedrooms tidied is a challenge—though if I’m being honest, it’s probably not too much more challenging than it is when Mom is home. Making sure those things happen just isn’t usually my job.
We’re at Day 5 Without Mom and Jo, and I can safely say we’re doing pretty well. There have been no major disasters or catastrophes. Every crisis that has come up has been something we could handle. But although we’re managing to cope without Mom, that doesn't mean we don't miss her.
When you have a parent on call 24/7, at least through phone or text if not face-to-face, losing that contact (even for a little while) is a shock. I keep catching myself about to fire her a text with a question, and then redirecting to Dad or a sibling when I remember she’s in Guatemala. Though she hasn't been gone all that long, it's still hard coming home and not having her there to say "Hi, how was your day?"
It’s probably much harder for the little kids, because they’re used to being home all day, every day with Mom and now she’s suddenly never there. They show it in different ways (Becca is more clingy, Fuzz and Fro are more cantankerous, M is tired of being in charge and responsible), but we all miss having Mom here to talk to, ask questions of, and even wrestle on the floor if we feel like it.
And yes, we miss Jo too.
I was just talking to her though a video call this evening, and jokingly I told her I liked her a lot better through an Internet connection. The image was super pixelated, so what I could see of her was mostly a blurred image of colored squares. Turns out she’s a lot less annoying when you can’t see her sticking her tongue out and sassing off. And 3,000 miles of distance does a lot to make me remember all the things I do like about her.
Because, as much as it hurts me to say this, I’ve repeatedly noticed and been bothered by the fact that she's not there when I expected her to be. This morning she didn’t wake up to me making noise going to work. Last night she wasn’t there when M and I were lying in bed talking about this and that until way past our bedtime. She wasn’t even telling us to be quiet like usual, so we stayed up even later than usual. (And as a result, were even more tired than usual the next day. Go figure.) And I definitely noticed her absence the other day when we couldn't find some rice she had put away after Mom's grocery shopping. We tore the kitchen and pantry apart looking for it, but eventually just went and bought more because we couldn't find it.
Yup, might as well admit it. I miss that obnoxious little squirt.
Just don’t tell anyone, OK?