Flickr photo by frumbertWhen my husband first started traveling on a regular basis, I'd have to resist instantly passing the torch to him the second he walked in the door. Or really, setting him on fire with it and running away like a bat out of hell.
I've since learned to at least let him drop his bags and change his clothes before I retreat into a quiet dark room completely alone.
The adjustment to being alone with my kids was not easy. I had never imagined myself in this situation, and so I suppose that made the transition more difficult. And worse, I remembered how hard it was for my own mother, who struggled for long periods of solo parenting while my dad traveled almost constantly for work.
So, I was starting things off with a pretty grim picture in my head.
My husband's commerical pilot's job came as quite a surprise to us, and within a few days of his hiring, he was living in Atlanta for six weeks while I fended for myself with a toddler and a newborn at my in-laws' house, which technically should not have been that challenging given the four extra hands, but well, they were attached to my in-laws.
And then I was alone with two kids in a new house, in a brand new city without any extra helpful or unhelpful hands, which meant I spent a lot of days stuck in the house or driving aimlessly around a city that no one should ever drive aimlessly around unless they are in a helicopter because good god the traffic.
Also, exactly how many Peachtree Streets are there in Atlanta? Or is it just ONE LONG ROAD? I still haven't figured that one out yet.
So when my husband came home, I alternated between wanting to talk his ear off because OMG! AN ADULT HUMAN! or hiding in my closet curled up in fetal position with a wine IV.
But either way, I wanted a break. I had secretly counted all my chips as "full-time parent" and wanted to cash them in immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Send me to jail so I can get a break from the tiny humans sucking the life right out of me through curly straws.
At first, my husband tried to make me think that his eight-hour days followed by quiet dinners alone and a completely empty hotel rooms were work and not the Bahaman vacation I made them out to be. And in truth, he was technically working, and in his own right, he deserved some time to put his feet up, and crack a beer on a couch that didn't need to be disinfected by Lysol before he sat on it.
And really, there would be no way he could ever pay back all the time I had spent playing with the kids, cleaning the house, and keeping up with everything that needs to be done on a daily basis, even if he completely took over everything when he was home. And that would just be plain ridiculous, though secretly very gratifying.
So after many weeks and months of butting heads about what constituted "work" and what constituted a "break," we came to a mutual agreement. I wouldn't throw children at him the second he walked into the door, and he agreed to take on the bath and bedtime duties, at least for the older two, whenever he was home.
And if I wanted to go anywhere, be it a girls' night out or just my weekly grocery store visit while he was home, he wouldn't hassle me when I left the kids with him.
Even with those simple rules, life has changed dramatically. Granted, I'm never completely off duty. But the time off, albeit short and sometimes infrequent, is enough to clean off my rosy colored glasses and remind me just how lucky I am.