Since Wednesday night I have been trying to play the role of mom and dad; something that I am not great at. I am pretty good at being mom until about 6 pm and then we are all ready for dad to come home. So what happens when dad is gone for several days and 6 pm roles around...a bit of craziness, stress, quick dinners, and early bedtimes.
Every year Birch relishes in planning, preparing, and going on his annual All-Brothers-Hike (it even has an acronym "ABH"). Each year the brothers try to out do themselves in cool gear, though I think Birch has lost that award for a few years now. This year he is the proud new owner of a plastic $2.00 pooper shovel. I'm sure his brothers were all drooling over his shovel and might have even tried to sneak it from his pack at night. They all hike in memory of their dad who was a true mountain man and passed away almost eight years ago.
Planning for the hike begins during the previous year's hike. Normally one of the brothers kind of takes charge with planning the hike after they all agree on a location. Then watch out...some years they have had t-shirts printed or special hymn books printed or vinyl lettering of their logo (yes, they have a logo) added to their nalgene bottles, but always you can count on an awesome DVD produced by Birch's talented brother, Kelly. These movies are right up there with Star Wars quality (or at least the Ditto family thinks they are). This year Birch got the idea of buying dry-wicking shirts and then having the logo embroidered on the shirt. He was like a little boy planning the whole gift out and couldn't wait to present them to his brothers. This year they will be missing Andrew as he is serving a mission in Mexico right now. They are backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho.
So how do I feel about this annual adventure? I used to dread it but I am learning to live with it and even try and be happier about its annual arrival. A couple of things have helped me with this paradigm shift--they no longer summit tall scary mountains where ice axes and crampons are needed and the last couple of years they have been able to go during the school year. The thought of losing my beloved Lover to a crevasse is more than I can bear the thought of, plus our life insurance company frowns upon such high adventure trips (you should have seen the smile on my face when the insurance agent told Birch that this policy did not allow such activities.). I figure once I am dead and Birch doesn't need a life insurance policy he is welcome to climb any mountain he wants.
Also, Birch has become very thoughtful over the years at doing secretive things prior to his departure to make his absence less painful for me. This year he left a sweet note sharing his love and also letting me know that he had arranged babysitters to come twice over the following four days. Plus he had flowers delivered one day and then last night he directed me to a gift that he had made--a cd of love songs. I love new music and just the thought that he had made it with me in mind made it extra special.
So how did the rest of us fare? We survived! Unfortunately several kids ended up getting Hand, Foot, Mouth disease so I wasn't able to take advantage of all the babysitting. We did have a fun movie party one night. I had been worried about handling six kids during church today (though Birch had asked a favorite family of ours to sit with us and help out) but since so many of the kids are sick we stayed home from church. Normally I really struggle at night with falling asleep on my own and getting scared but I've found that sleep deprivation does have one advantage--falling asleep isn't hard to do at all. Chloe still has just been getting up twice a night and I can handle that.
I'm not saying Birch wasn't missed; we are all counting down the hours until he arrives home today, but we did survive. Life is so much sweeter when you can share each day with your Lover.
I know Birch has been FLYING HIGH over the past several days but we are so excited to have him home today!