For the better part of the past two weeks, Robert has been gone on an eMi project trip. It is something he does at least once, sometimes twice, a year, and is a major part of his ministry with eMi. His latest trip was to master plan a university campus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just west of Uganda.
While Robert was gone, Caleb and I were left to hold down the fort, something we have done many times over the years. With Robert’s frequent travel, one would assume we are with familiar with functioning as 2/3 of the family, but each trip and absence brings its own challenges and circumstances.
The biggest difference between this project trip and previous ones was that we were not able to replace the absence of Robert with the presence of my mother. Since Caleb was born, we have either traveled to visit her or she has come to visit us while Robert has been gone. My mother’s presence is a great blessing and makes the transition to single parenthood a little more manageable. But plane tickets to Uganda are a little more expensive than tickets to Colorado, and it just isn’t feasible.
Still, even though my mother could not come to stay with us, our eMi family here took very good care of us. We were invited to dinner by several other eMi families. Between dinner invitations, eating out twice and ordering pizza in, I only had to cook a couple of times while Robert was gone. It was really nice as it just isn’t as much fun to cook when Robert isn’t around to appreciate my efforts.
Caleb and I managed to stay busy with our normal routine of activities. The biggest challenge of our daily routine was transportation. Without Robert here to shuttle us around on the boda, we had to walk or catch rides with friends. I really missed Robert and the boda the days I would walk Caleb down to school and then have to climb up the hill all the way to the eMi office. It is probably only half a mile, but with my computer on my back it sure felt a lot further than that. And of course, I would have to walk to pick Caleb up from school as well, but we only had to climb half way up the hill to get to the road to our house which is fairly flat. Caleb did a really good job of mostly not complaining. It was always a nice bonus when we could catch a ride with someone.
I did have a bit of a parenting challenge while Robert was away. Caleb was invited to spend the night at a school friend’s house. I agreed to it before I really had a chance to think about what I was agreeing to. I was uneasy about it all week as I barely know the parents, as in I have seen the mother occasionally at school but have never really talked with her and I have only met the father once. I decided that I would feel better if I just knew where he was going, so I asked to tag along when Caleb and his friend were taken home on Friday (Robert had been to the friend’s house but I hadn’t). Feeling better but still nervous, I asked for prayers at a woman’s Bible study where I was after leaving Caleb at his friend’s house.
After Bible study, one of the ladies who attends called to encourage me in my role as the ultimate protector of my child. It spurred me into calling to check on Caleb and make sure he was OK. When I called the mobile number of the friend’s mom, I found out that she wasn’t even home with the boys, but she said she had “10 people at the house” and gave me the number for the home phone. When I called the house and talked to Caleb, I could tell something wasn’t quite right. I asked him if he wanted me to come get him and he said “yes”. So I called the lady who had called me after Bible study, and she gave me a ride to go get Caleb.
After we had picked him up, the friend’s mother called me I thought to make sure that Caleb had actually left with someone he was supposed to leave with. But she was calling to tell me that I was “impolite” for picking up my son. I may have burned a few cultural bridges, but my son’s safety and well-being is a little more important than being polite and culturally correct. The hardest part about the whole thing was that I had to make the call to go get Caleb on my own without being able to discuss the situation with Robert.
Aside from that incident, things were pretty quiet for us here on the home front. I could tell Caleb was starting to miss Robert when he started coming home with more disciplinary marks during the second week. But I was starting to miss him myself. I thought I was doing okay until someone at the office asked if I was ready to have Robert home to which I responded without an emphatic “yes!” After that, things seemed to go downhill in the “missing” department, but fortunately we only had a couple more days to go.
Caleb and I know there are times that we have to share Robert with the world. It is just part being an eMi family. But it sure is nice when he comes home to us.