By the time the milk goes sour


“I can do this. I am woman. I am strong. I am independent. I am capable.
Birthed two babies after all. Survived typhoid fever in Africa. Lived through organic chemistry in college. Twice.

So what if you’re leaving in 2 weeks on a 15-month deployment. I am not going to get wrapped up in numbers. (But that’s more than 64 weeks, 450 days, 10,800 hours. 2 Thanksgivings and 2 Christmases will go by. Hope, age 2, will be 4 when you return. But I’m not going to focus on numbers.)

I want you to know that your absence will be no problemo. I’m every woman. (Right, Whitney?) Year-long separation? Been there, done that, can do it again.

But if you don’t mind, I would like for Paul the exterminator guy to move into the spare bedroom. Just in case I need him. No? He can’t? But you don’t understand. If there is a single mickey mouse sighting this winter, I. will. perish. Perish, you hear me?

What? No, I cannot, will not go into the attic. I am absolutely terrified of the attic.

You want me to take out the trash while you’re gone? Yes, yes, I suppose you’re right. Hope is too short. And Rhema, well, she’d rather climb into the garbage. But I loathe taking out the trash and I have no idea when the recycle days are!

And I have to get the mail and read it and start paying the bills and managing the budget? Wah!!!!! But you’re so much better at that. I told you, I’m really not fond of numbers at the moment.

But, but what about oil changes and car problems and house repairs and heavy things and scary noises in the night???

(I have so much respect and admiration for single parents right now.)

Well, it’s a good thing we hired someone to handle lawn care and snow removal. Phew. I mean, I could totally do it. I’m strong like that. But I will have so little time, this really is the best idea. Huh? I’ll still need to shovel the front of the garage and throw salt? What do you mean? Just grab the salt shaker and sprinkle the driveway? No? I tell you, in all my pampered life I have never “thrown salt!!!!”

(Starting to hyperventilate). O.k. I know I’m every woman. I know I was surviving just fine before I met you. But, well, o.k. I admit… I need you. (And not just because you’re manly.) In the words of that rocker chick Pink,

PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Smoothes frazzled hair).

Pardon that outburst. But if you go, who, pray tell, who will open my jar of spaghetti sauce???

Seriously, B. I know I act like I’m fine. Cool, calm and collected, that’s me. But the truth is, the grocery store was my undoing today. Numbers all over the place (and I’m so not into numbers right now.) There were expiration dates everywhere I turned.

The fact is, sweet man of mine, by the time the milk goes sour…

you’ll be gone.”

34 thoughts on “By the time the milk goes sour

  1. Jeniel, how do I write words of encouragement when your post just crushes me. I know you can do it and I know you will do it. If I lived closer I would throw your salt for you, I am good at that sort of thing, by 15 months you will be good at it to, I am sure of it.

  2. Hey Jeniel,
    Sorry to post this here, but I am not sure how else to contact you. I ran into you at Futures a couple weeks ago. I’d love to get our kids together sometime. We’ll be on vacation until the 24th, but after then? Please email me!

  3. I’ve done it; but only once…and it wasn’t a deployment, my husband was mostly in the hospital. You can do it; but not well alone. Life is best lived with family and a small group of awesome people who love you like family!

    You will miss the trash day. The recycling day. You will probably even miss a bill or two along the way. I highly recommend having the kind of checking account that automatically draws from your savings…just in case you get behind in “balancing all of those numbers!”

    Oh, and I’ve found that mice are talented creatures who manage to eat every peanut butter and cheese left out for them; but they are undone with chocolate -who knew it was a girl’s and mice’s favorite treat? (Well most girls…not sure if they go for blue cotten candy; but if you get desperate it wouldn’t hurt to try! 😉 How do you think I found out that they liked chocolate?!)

    Your anchor holds.

    We are and will be praying for you & your family and are happy to listen (read – or call!) if you just need to talk to an adult or vent a little here and there without judgment.

    Women do this every day; but it isn’t easy. You are every woman; but your are also His. May He draw you close and may this be a precious time with the lover of your soul.


  4. Aww, J, do you really not have enough going on?! I hate that you’ll be going it alone for over a year. Please tell me you will get a kind relative to move in with you for support! I’m right with you on hiring out all the dirty work. Big hugs.

  5. sobbing like a fool over here.

    oh, love .. i hate to say this, but i’m glad to hear you saying all of this – i worried for the ‘no big deal’ girl – shrugging it off. THIS makes sense. every bit of it.

    how could you NOT feel this way?

    it’s ok to be all of this – all of it. and more.

    please don’t go it alone. please let us help. matt throws salt like nobody’s business.


  6. Oh, my heart is aching for you. I’ve never liked numbers much either.

    Unsolicited but well-intentioned advice from an 11-year single parent: Ask for help frequently. And make sure you schedule time for yourself. I know – there’s nothing more impossible than that. But you’ve got to. Promise me you will. xoxo

  7. I don’t know why…. but I do like to read that you struggle too…. Makes you human I guess. You’ve been such a superwoman to me.

    I will be praying for you. I totally get the ‘milk’ thing. I always see those dates and associate them and I always felt weird.

    I cannot IMAGINE, but I commend you, your family, and your husband for doing what I and my husband are too chicken to do.. well, that and it’s not our calling….

    Love you in Christ!

  8. Jeneil,

    How ironic that Tom is finally coming home and Brandon is leaving. Even though I’ve actually “been there done that” myself, it’s MUCH harder being the one left behind.

    As others have said, fill your life with friends. The time will go faster and the little things will not seem so big. My friends PCSd and I moved, and that lack was the hardest thing. It made the days slow down and time creep by. Not really what you want.

    I’ll be praying for you!

  9. I think it takes a REALLY strong woman to admit that she can’t do it alone. And you, my friend, are that strong and more. Yes! You MUST ask for help! I’ve done it two days in a row so far, and I intend to make it a daily habit, one day at a time.

    Can you ask your church community to be that child-raising village everyone talks about? (Am hoping that Paul the exterminator guy belongs to your congregation.)

  10. oh man. I’ve never been through anything like that. My BIL was deployed twice but my SIL stayed with her parents during that time to make it easier-she was pregnant each time he was gone. Sending you lots of strength–that works through the internet right?

    I just heard of a trick to keep the mice at bay. Put mint (the real plant-not the spice) the long way in some plastic wrap with the ends open and then place them around your house where the mice seem to come in. My Aunt (in-law) in CO told me she does this each fall and hasn’t had mice for years.

    We have four cats–no mice here. That’s another option for you too if you’re not allergic!

  11. B reassures the other commenters…affirms my interpretation that an application of humor covers real readiness for this.

    Something that was said to me when I was in that time in my life:

    Each day will seem to last forever. But the year will go by fast.

    Somehow that comforted me, and is pretty much another version of one-day-at-a-time. Sage advice for all times of stress.

    You already have and will continue to have my prayers for your family.

  12. My hubs will be gone for 3 months at the beginning of next year. I’ve never been without him for a week (okay, once but it was my choosing and I was surrounded by a ton of family and a beach). I’ve been feeling like I can handle most of it, save for the spiders. No. Thank. You.

    But 15 months? Again. UGH. My heart goes out to you. You *are* every woman and if you were my neighbor, I’d come over and stare at them in sheer panic with you….

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  14. I told my husband that I married him to kill the bugs and to drop me off and pick me up at the door when there is inclement weather.

    We had a male Spanish exchanged student with us this year. During one of our discussions about living independently after college, the conversation got around to the husband’s “duty to kill and clean up bugs.”

    Up to this point, Jorge coward in the corner with my kids when he saw a bug. I guess my conversation inspired him because he said, “I guess it is time for me to ‘Man up.'”

    From that day on he was relentless in hunting down, killing and cleaning up bugs in our house. I feel a great deal of satisfaction knowing I returned to Spain and a future Spanish girl a husband who will kill bugs for her.

    I think upon my death bed this will be one of my greatest accomplishments, especially since I can’t train my own two sons to do this.

  15. Oh, friend, I hear you! I’d be lost without my man. I don’t know how I made it through my years of single-motherhood! We live in a military community, so we are well aware of deployments and the like. I will certainly be praying for all of you. Wish you lived closer; I would come over and gather the trash, minus Rhema.


  16. You can do it. It will be HARD and I know you dont’ want to do it. I wouldn’t want to either. Your husband and you are both very brave. I agree. Ask for help. I’m getting better at that myself and my husband is here. So you need to do it. People will be happy to help you.

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  18. Hi Jeneil,
    I worked with Rhema a couple years ago, and have been following your blog (I heard about it from Marlena).

    You have an incredible gift in being able to move people to tears through your words (I have cried multiple times reading your blog).

    I don’t have a child with autism, and I don’t have a husband being deployed to the Middle East, and yet I find inspiration in every post!

  19. Hi – I saw your comment on dadtoday this AM and thought, Oh no! Not already! Glad you’ve still got some days left. Thanks for checking in, Janiel, and as always for the encouraging words.

    Noticed elsewhere your ref to your book. I am closing in on my first self-publishing project. Sometime will have to pick your brain for what you learned through the process.

  20. Oh Neally……I will be praying so earnestly for you all. I wish I wasn’t so far away. I may be 22 hours driving distance, but I am just a phone call away! Love you

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