Give Me a Break

Love & Sex 9

home sweet home
Flickr photo by frumbert
When 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.
 
Enough said.
 
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.

marriage

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Clumb... ClumberKim

My husband also travels a fair bit (though not as much as your's) and I'm working outside the home full-time but I have many of the same issues. I have started hiring a sitter for one night if he's gone for a week. (Two nights if it's a rare two week trip.) I may just go to Target or Starbucks or get my haircut (like tonight!), but it's a break and something to look forward to.

APeve... APeveteaux

I don't know how you do it. My husband traveled about once a month when my daughter was born and it was all I could do to not change the locks when he arrived home.

nonmember avatar RookieMom Whitn

Congrats on the new column, Kristen. I'll link over to it soon!

nonmember avatar LiteralDan

This is what we're going through right now, except for the time being I'm also working from home full time. I've found the key to be leaving the kids to play amongst themselves for awhile so we can both unwind at the same time, as it were. Which today should be in just an hour or so!

"Hey guys, who wants to watch Finding Nemo?!?!" Actually, a Toy Story marathon sounds about right for me today.

nonmember avatar sam_tempting

We still tend to argue about sharing kid duties. I don't think it ever truly goes away. With them being a bit older now, it's easier to bring them home after work and send them to their playroom while I "unwind" getting my jogging pants on and make dinner.

Children and their lack of independence and need for constant companionship sucks the ever-loving life out of even taking a crap in peace, but they're so worth it. Sometimes.

XO

nonmember avatar SheSaid/HeSaid

I hear you sister! Been there, done that and didn't like the T-shirt!

My husband has been traveling for over 12 years. When the kids were little, it was extremely challenging being mom 24/7 without a break for 5 days or more at a time. I once shared my frustration with him by explaining that I have to relay on myself as a single parent. Wow - that was a big blow to him. He immediately made a concerted effort to really be engaged in the family when he was in town - and it helped a lot.

Now - our kids are 13 & 9. It's nice to know that if I get a bout of Vertigo while he's out of town - I know the kids can hold down the fort and even "take care of me".

It does get easier as they get older. I'm not sure it helps to hear that while you are "in the trenches", but know I'm offering as much "virtual" support as possible to a fellow lone survivor!

nonmember avatar Karen Chatters

It's hard not to throw the kid(s) at the husband the minute he walks in the door. But those 30 minutes where he's doing the bath and getting her to bed are some of my best times, even if I'm using them to make us dinner.

I hate that I feel guilty when I want to get out on my own. Whether it's a girls night or to go to Publix, alone time is savored and needed. Solo parenting, whether it's 9-5 or 10 days in a row, can be exhausting. (Not that I'm comparing 9-5 with 10 days, but I think you know what I mean.)

nonmember avatar tina

I think I should fwd this post to him. He is Active duty army and that in itself explains many things. But I find that if I don't speak up when the uneven duties/parenting start piling up I get resentful of him. My thing is, when do I get my 15 minutes? He always tells me to give him 15 mins to unwind from work, take his shoes off... blah blah blah.. seriously? Where's my 15 mins? This will never be an evenly shared role as long as he is on Active Duty. I hate his job sometimes... thanks for the post.

nonmember avatar Lindy

I love your posts, I can totally relate. My husband works full time half days and half nights plus he's in the guard. He's getting ready to leave for his 3rd year long deployment in the past 7 yrs. So once again I'm left to be a single mom to 3 kids. Unfortunately he won't be coming home at the end of the day or even week for me to throw the kids at him and disappear. I wish.

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