It’ll be worth it, he says, as he closes the door behind him and trudges to the barn, whipping his red flannel jacket up and over his shoulders.
Back in the trailer, the baby cries and his oldest daughter whines. He only came home twenty minutes prior, and they miss their father already.
Because, you know, dads are the fun ones. Dads have the strong arms and the strong wills. Dads don’t yell or nag or complain.
And their mother sighs, as she stirs the pot of Kraft Dinner on the stove, while the baby howls.
This time next year will be better she thinks to herself, scraping the burnt pasta off the bottom of the scorched pot. This time next year, she thinks, the status of their future house that her husband works at every evening through the week and every weekend too, will be more than a foundation.
This time next year, according to plan, there will be more than mortises and tenons and fourteen foot posts sitting idle in their barn. This time next year there will be more than attempts at understanding steam bending and roasted wood. Because this time next year, she’ll see it with her own eyes.
This time next year, she prays, there will be more balance.
Because right now she and he have none.
He works for a living all day, then works some more at his creation all night- and she loves him for it, she does. She admires his dedication.
She is happy he’s raising this baby on his very own- because it means the world to him.
But it doesn’t change the fact that she misses him all the time. It doesn’t make her resent the moments of single parenthood any less.
To get through, she reminds herself she’ll begin to see that it’s been worth it so soon, as those hand harvested wooden posts reach toward the sky instead of running parallel to it, highlighting the corners of the walls between which their children will play. This time next year she’ll begin to see the beams creating a pitched shelter above her little one’s heads as they rest at night.
But for now it’s the process. For now he misses the second baby’s first steps and the first one’s sandcastles and barbie house constructions.
And he feels sad about it- conflicted and laden with guilt, and she feels bad that he feels that way too, given they are both just doing their best. And so they collapse in exhaustion every night on the couch from all the work and all of the feelings and all of the sacrifice.
Before the heap on the couch stage, she tries to get some of the dishes done, though she’s mentally drained, and so it rarely happens. So he picks away at the pile, taking on more than his share of responsibility at the end of the night.
And she tries to close the chicken coop with the wailing overtired baby on her hip, but more often than not he does it for her, when he realizes it didn’t maker her to-do list, either.
And she tries to remember to set something healthy out for supper, but more often than not, she gives in and makes the boxed dinner that she knows the girls will actually eat, and so he has to fend for himself once his work day is done at 9pm, on top of the rest.
And none of it is fair and none of it is easy. There’s a lot of frustration.
But there’s also moments of hope and inspiration, like when their eldest daughter suggests he go as a house for Halloween, since he’s so good at making them. And it reminds them both that what they are each doing now will be worth it when that house gets built.
When that damn dream house gets built- his baby- which that devoted dreamer of a husband will have concocted and constructed with his own 2 hands. He can and will do it, and what a blessing that is for this family.
When that damn dream house is up, it will contain their future’s hopes and dreams and mistakes and mayhems.
Today feels like a sacrifice, stirring that burning pot of pasta. But that’s OK, because this is just phase 1 and they’re working toward a dream.
Because this future house, really, is this family’s third child. It’s his every hope and aspiration. And she knows as well as any other that raising babies takes patience- it takes heart and time and everything you have- and that’s where they are right now.
So she tries to support him through it though it may be inconvenient today, just as he does her passions too, when they come calling at 4am with another mother saying she’s in labour.
And together they make it work. Sacrifices and all.