‘Where’s Daddy?,’ he asked. ‘At work,’ I replied glumly. My sweet son literally crumpled to the floor in disappointment. It surprised me.’: Military spouse gets reminder to remember the ‘bigger picture’

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“My son woke up Monday morning, came downstairs, and immediately ran over to his father’s office chair. Arms raised in exasperation, he turned toward me and asked, ‘Where’s Daddy?’

‘He’s at work,’ I replied a bit glumly. We’d just had a wonderful weekend, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

My sweet son literally crumpled to the floor in disappointment. It surprised me, but at the same time, I understood. I’m not a huge fan of Mondays either. But seeing his sadness made me take a breath and think about my reaction. I hugged him and then explained, ‘Daddy’s at work. He’ll be back for lunch. He has to go to work to make money. He makes money so we can buy things and pay bills. Like food and your toys. He goes to work because he loves us.’

My son repeated a few of the words I’d said, and then ended with, ‘Okay.’ And we moved on with our day.

Courtesy Rachel Weidner

So often, I don’t take the time to see the larger picture. I don’t even think about explaining the heart of it to my boy, whose heart is so tender he soaks in every word. But I’m so thankful this opportunity did not pass us by, because with the gift of hindsight, I can see the larger picture that small explanation played in our day.

My daughter woke up, and we spent the morning vacuuming and doing dishes. At one point, I caught my son red-handed going through my wallet on the couch. Instead of getting upset (like I usually do), we talked about how the coins he was holding were money. It seemed as if part of the puzzle of work and money clicked into place for him.

Around 10:00, I put on a show for them and started making lunch. About 15 minutes before my husband was due to head home on his break, I realized we were out of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. I couldn’t make the sauce I had planned to go with the sausage and pasta I had cooked, and I didn’t have any spaghetti sauce or time to come up with something else. I quickly messaged my husband, explaining lunch wasn’t going to be ready and he could pick something up for himself if he wanted. I was planning on grocery shopping that evening and knew I could scrap something together for the kids and I until then.

My husband came home with Burger King for all of us.

Courtesy Rachel Weidner

The guilt that had been gnawing at me for not checking that we had all of the ingredients fell away. Our kids were so excited about daddy bringing home fries, thanking him profusely before picnicking on the living room floor. He and I sat on the couch together sharing about our mornings and laughing over our daughter’s antics to get more fries.

Out of nowhere, with a mouth full of chicken nugget, our son exclaimed, ‘Thank you for my bunnies!’

My husband and I looked at each other in confusion.

‘What?’ I asked.

We listened to him a second time, and I realized ‘Bunnies’ was actually monies. He’d taken what I’d said about dad working so we could have money for food and toys and connected it to daddy bringing home food for lunch. His mispronunciation made it all the sweeter.

I quickly filled in my husband, and the relief he’d offered me by bringing back food for all of us now transferred to him. His son was starting to understand why sometimes he has to be gone. His son was starting to understand why Daddy has to go to work, and he’d responded with gratitude.

The guilt my husband could have felt overhearing our son had collapsed to the floor was washed away with five simple words.

‘Thank you for my bunnies!’

Our puzzle isn’t finished. Our son still doesn’t fully understand, and we don’t want him to. He’s only three. He doesn’t need to worry about work or money or paying bills.

But every fiber of my being believes that these everyday conversations, these under 5-minute explanations, are our raw responsibility.

We get to help shape our kids’ outlook on life. We have the opportunity to foster thankfulness and appreciation; as well as honesty and compassion.

I know we won’t always think about the bigger picture, and I know we can’t always explain, but sometimes we can. Sometimes, it helps.

More than anything, we all want our kids to know how much we love them.

And that’s why we put in the work.”

Courtesy Rachel Weidner

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Weidner, 25, of Indiana. Follow Rachel’s journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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