When CJ was born, at the peak of the late harvest in 2009, he was up every two hours throughout the night for six weeks to the day. I "slept" on the couch, he in the bassinet in the living room, as my husband dragged his dreary body home from the field and up the steps past us for 6 or less hours each night.
I think I cried each of those 42 nights, in a mix of overwhelm, loneliness and exhaustion. Then, on the 43rd day, CJ slept through the night. It was the exact first night his dad had been there to go to bed with us - harvest was over.
Maybe it's his birthday right around the corner, maybe it's these restless nights, but that was all I could think of this morning when he rolled over and said, "Mommy, I wish Daddy was here."
As a farmer's wife, this morning wasn't the first time I'd heard these words out of my son's mouth, but it certainly felt more disappointing today. You see, yesterday was the day they "finished" harvest.
For nearly 50 days, with less than a handful of rain outs, Farmer Johnson has left this house in the dark and returned well after dark. He's missed good mornings and sweet dreams more times than we want to count, and yet yesterday I felt myself let out a huge sigh as he shared the bittersweet words, "we finished up."
For a few hours, we considered ourselves back to "normal" and sent extra gratitude with our prayers for his safekeeping. We snuggled in tighter, slept a little deeper and rested a little more calmly. But the bitter part certainly sunk in more quickly than I remembered, this time.
Although I wish it weren't, today's 5 am departure was also necessary - with the crops now gone the ground needs cared for, replant beans will be ready take out in a week or so, and then comes the shift to shop work and planter repair.
But it's hard explaining to a child that a farmer's work is never done, even when he sees it through his own eyes. Even more, it's difficult to hide that same disappointment in our own voices, when we too long for him to be by our sides. We do it, though, because we believe - in him, in them, in this life.
The upside is, we start to learn from these experiences. Tomorrow, I'll have a distraction ready, coffee in my own hand, wake him with a cheerful smile and do my best to keep it from weighing on his mind. I'll make an extra effort to give a few more hugs before school because I see he needs them.
Most importantly, though, tonight I'll set my alarm for extra early and be sure to do the exact same for his dad, because part of me knows that when we've hit this point in the year - when the two of us struggle to hide it anymore - there's a strong man working his ass off to make it possible, and nothing deserves more love than that.