I persuaded him to call us twice to thrice a month if that will help him eased up homesickness. I told him not to think about the expenses of long distance calls because at that time we were still in the adjustment period and I felt the great need for us to communicate. As experienced couples would tell us that in the husband-wife relationship, communication in any form is so important. I realized too, that communication in this kind of situation was a real challenge. I had to learn to get the message not only the words he uttered, but the tone of voice too, and the messages between the lines. On my part, I had to admit that there were instances when I have to choose what words to use, and to avoid telling him the not-so-good stories or circumstances that may cause him to worry. Likewise quality communication has to be maintained at all times to establish openness despite the absence. One or more hellos were needed to keep our relationship honest and open.
As the wife left behind I needed to be creative in all aspects of my life. I had to play several roles simultaneously and effectively. Foremost was my role as a mother and father to our daughter. I was new mother then, left with two-year old daughter. The presence of other relatives helped to some extent, but at the end of the day all the concerns and responsibilities were on my shoulders. I had to take care of feeding my daughter right, and on time, changing her nappies in the evening, giving her vitamins, and taking care and worrying about her every time she got sick or hospitalized. When the schooling years started, the role of a tutor and mentor commenced.
Another important task I had to do was being the budget manager. Every penny earned need to be spent wisely, and accounted for. I had to make sure that both ends meet, especially if the budget is just enough for all the expenses. We developed a system where all basic household expenses are itemized, and calculated so that we came up with an agreed amount for our monthly budget. It had proven to be effective because there were not much argument over financial matters. But I would say that discipline in spending had to be practiced at all times with savings as foremost on the budget list.
At times I had to be a carpenter, gardener, and electrician. Name them and there are more roles that once in a while challenged me as the wife left behind. I remember an instance when I had to do basic carpentry repair because the wood window in one of the rooms was being ripped down by the strong wind during the height of the typhoon. There were instances that I really need to learn about paints, about the best water pump brand, and even the kinds of water pipes and fittings because I needed to attend to the repair works in the household.. At other times I saw myself climbing up the Kamias tree to cut some of its branches in front of our house, or up on the roof to clean the roof gutter and downspout.
No, I am not complaining about these odd roles I had to play, but I guess as the wife of an OFW I suddenly became a superwoman striving hard in the absence of my husband to keep a stable home and a happy family.
Separate lives ...to be continued