Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Husband Is A Travelin' Man, and Why You Don't Get It

One of the reasons I decided to be a stay at home mom is that in my husband's industry (marketing) he spends a good amount of time flying elsewhere for events, meetings and vacations (he can tell me a hundred times that he really was working on that week-long fishing trip in the Bahamas but that one sure sounds like a vacation to me!). If I were also working full time (as a teacher), plus bringing home grading and lesson planning I'm just not sure our kids would ever see their parents! Thus, one stay at home parent was our solution.

All this to say we have definitely taken the preferred path but it hasn't by any means been easy. While it's added more financial stress to my husband (though I've been able to alleviate that by saving us money) it's added parental stress to me, spending 25% of the year essentially as a single parent. When I meet new people and they ask where my husband is, I might say "Oh he's in ______ for work and he'll be back in a week. He travels a lot." What I didn't realize in the beginning is that a lot of these people didn't actually GET IT that my husband is hasta la vista, in another state, not coming home to eat dinner and help with bath time and we'll be lucky if we get to say hi to him today.

Suddenly some of the husband's of these women were traveling or otherwise out-of-state for a few days and they were in a panic, falling apart saying "Joey no you don't get it, he's going to be GONE for 3 days!!!" This moment takes some serious restraint on my part, and I would respond "Yes I know, Chris leaves for a week at a time pretty often. It's hard." Here's the inevitable/kicker response: "REALLY?" Didn't I already tell you this??

Let me give you an idea of what this actually looks like in real life: I am the full-time care for my children and not too long ago that meant a newborn and 18 month old. They do not attend a preschool (now we are doing one 2 hr. church class a week) or have a regular sitter who comes to relieve me. I am going non-stop from the moment they wake up until several hours after their bedtime just to get everything done. After five or six days when I'm burned out and exhausted I cannot hand my child over to hubby and say "Give me an hour or I'm going to lose it". There is no burly man to come by and take out the garbage (out of the kitchen or out to the curb) and no super hero sleeping next to me when I'm sure I've heard a serial killer downstairs in the middle of the night and I want him to check it out. In emergencies, medical (involving a trip to the ER) or otherwise (accidentally locking my children in the car in the driveway) I am on my own.

I also find myself feeling a little jealous of women whose husbands get to go into work later in the morning, come home earlier or don't bring their work with them. Whatever happened to 9-5? Holding my kids off for a 6:30 or later dinner each night is not impossible but it also isn't a whole bunch of fun either. When I find myself feeling resentful that "everyone else" gets to see their husband twice as much as I do, I just remind myself that I got the best one anyway and quality beats quantity any day ;-)

If your husband is not a regular traveler, you cannot possibly understand parenthood from this perspective, just as I cannot fathom how on earth a military mother or father can handle 6-12 months without his/her spouse. Just as none of us can imagine what it is like to actually be a single mom for years on your own.
So if you're lucky enough to have your man-meat around consistently make sure to be thankful for it, and maybe even see if you have a single mother and/or military friend that could use a hand (or an afternoon off).

1 comment:

  1. While my hubby doesn't travel anymore he used to and I can totally understand. He left for Germany when our first baby was only 2 weeks old. Luckiy he does not travel anymore. He does, however, commute an hour each way for work so we don't see him much either (gone from 5:30am to at least 6:30pm, usually later). I agree, quality if definitley good! We certainly appreciate our time together more than most people.