Helping kids expect the unknown
As I type this, I'm waiting to hear if my husband's airplane is landing right now-this-minute, or if he's still hours or days away. We've been waiting for him to come home on leave from Kuwait -- where he's been the last five months with the Army Reserves -- since Sunday, when he left. I told my boys that it was all up in the air, but then he called Monday night with a flight number and time. So, we expect him Tuesday night...
A few hours before his flight was (I thought) arriving, he got on Facebook chat with me (internet was way cheaper than phones), from Germany. OK, so, not Tuesday night. Wednesday? No, he was on "lockdown" for 12 hours. Thursday? Probably?
Now I have to go pick the boys up in a few minutes, and maybe I'll have something to tell them (we're headed to the airport!), maybe I'll just have to say, "who knows?" Though this is an extreme situation, for sure, I know I'm not the only one who has to deal with a partner who's often making last-minute changes in availability -- work travel, sudden flight changes (voluntary or not so much), having to work late or entertain friends/clients/family unexpectedly. How do you help your kids expect the unknown? Is it fair to say, "we'll never know until he walks through the door?" Or is it better to let them in a little bit on your own emotional roller coaster (not to torture them, but so they'll at least be able to understand why you're on edge)?
Right now, my best coping mechanism could generously be called "comfort" and critically be called "junk": Kettle Chips, coffee shop treats, and Burgerville drivethrough. I've been saving that good dinner (flat iron steaks, roasted cauliflower, mashed potatoes) for three days now... I think it's time to start cooking. I think my heart is telling me I should stick to a schedule and let the schedule-afflicted partner join in if he or she can... but that's a hard thing for this mama to do. What do you think?