“Daddy would rather be here with us”
By Cayela Moody
I sit in the pew, but I am not alone. I am never alone. Next to me you will find two cherubs, in their Christmas finery, with perfectly curled coifs, poised to go on and give the performance of a lifetime. Two boys wiggle impatiently, waiting for their sisters’ program to begin.
I am in my usual uniform, with my unclean hair in a ponytail, toothpaste on my top that perfectly aligns to the height of three-year-old who left it there during a hug. I am physically unable to get more than three of us in top form at any moment, so I sink further into my seat, trying to disappear. I should be thankful we were able to find a spot, as fathers line the walls of the room, while it fills to well over capacity.
I watch them, their camcorders in hand, poised to record their musical prodigy play the jingle bells. That is when it hits me, at this moment, every time. It is the ache of loneliness. Probably jealousy as well, if I am completely honest. I wonder, “Do these wives know how amazing it is that their husbands are here?”
I have lost track of how many times I’ve thought it. During the baseball games, while restraining a child for vaccinations, at an IEP meeting, it always crosses my mind. It would be amazing to have Evan here. I am sure that he would have rather been at this program as well, rather than draining a peritonsillar abscess. I am blessed to be here, and I take it for granted. I am the fortunate one in this equation.
Evan finished residency this past summer, and while other wives are so glad to close that chapter and bask in the glow of private practice, my husband is in the bottom of a ship, in an undisclosed area serving America’s finest. He wanted to serve, and I found it admirable. For the record, I still do. Yet, I daydream about a husband who gets home at five, and convince myself that it is probably an urban legend.
I dust off the crackers leftover from a Lunchable, and I get back to my work. There are presents to hide and gifts to wrap and they are not going to do it themselves. It is harder to be alone at this time of year than any other time. The house is so bright with decorations, the fireplace burns, trees with twinkling lights fill the corners of my rooms. But no matter how full the house is, his absence still creeps in, draping a moment like a popcorn strand hangs on a tree. I hear it every day. “I wish Dad was here.” I always chime back one of my standard responses, “Daddy would rather be here with us.”
In this statement lies the power that we as physician spouses often forget we hold: the power of persuasion over our children. I cannot count how many times I would rather say, “Tell me about it, sister,” or “Tell it to Daddy. He is the one that has chosen this for us.” Statements like this plant seeds of bitterness in our children that will blossom into the perfect flower of resentment as they come into adulthood. Is this my hope for my children?
I pray that as adults, they will say that when their father was home, he was present and that he made them a priority, and that when their Dad was gone their mother did everything she could to make the best of the circumstances. I hope they see how amazingly talented Evan is, both as a father and a physician.
This is true across the board for both physicians and members of our armed forces. They have abilities that only they can offer, and the world depends on them and needs them to answer that call.
In the meantime, our children depend on us to be the light of the home. We must choose to shine brightly this season. Our spouses truly carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. We carry the weight of our home on ours.
Cayela Moody is from Eureka, Kansas. She’s a homeschooler, an autism mom, and a military wife. Together, with her high school sweetheart, Evan, they are raising four children.