My husband is out of town. It’s me, 4 kids, and one dog for 4 nights. On the surface, this doesn’t sound so awesome. It’s a lot of flippin’ work. My husband has been traveling for work as long as I’ve known him. In the early days (pre-marriage, pre-kids), it was longer international trips. Nowadays the trips are more frequent but they’re shorter and are usually in the western US. I used to dread these times. Me, kids, house, responsibilities. By myself.
But I’m here to tell you there’s actually a bright side: I rise to the occasion. When I am Mom and Dad and Teacher, I really have to step up. I’m making breakfast, getting kiddos dressed, changing diapers, doing school, attempting to help with video games (who are we kidding on that one?), taking them for walks, arranging play dates, dropping off at Scout meetings, giving baths, doing laundry, putting them to bed, everything. It’s A LOT. But it’s sort of empowering in a way. That sounds so cheesy to say! But when I have to do what I have to do, I do it.
I’ll go ahead and admit that when my husband is available, I use him as needed. I am not shy about asking for help. Ask him… But when he’s gone…. it’s all mama, all the time. And I’m used to it. And I kind of like it. I tend to kick a little ass. I get a little more courageous – let’s hit the fabric store! Let’s have a picnic! Wooooo! I have no one to check in with and nobody to rely on. It can be a little scary but it’s mostly good and at this point, I am used to it.
So for other mamas out there whose husband’s travel… let this be my note of encouragement. Embrace it! You really can get by. Even have some extra fun with the kids. This doesn’t mean I don’t lose my *@%# every now and again. Because I do! But frankly that happens even when I have my husband around for help with the kids and moral support. So I don’t really worry about it.
One thing I try NOT to do is turn it into the cliche-divorced-parent-style free for all of treats and outings. Because ain’t nobody got time or money or calories for that. And I don’t want the kids to think that when Daddy is gone, they’re going to get spoiled. That doesn’t seem like a good message to send! A new craft project? Sure. Dinner out one night? Yes. But that’s about it.
This week so far I’ve gotten 4 loads of laundry done (and folded!) and the boys decided they want to build shelves for their room so we picked up the materials for that yesterday and they started sanding today. It’s so cute! That is my kind of Mommy-Child Quality Time.
And speaking of quality time… there’s another huge perk of being a solo parent for a bit. Evenings are pretty blissful. You can watch whatever you want on TV. You can scroll through Facebook for an hour straight. I may or may not already be planning my Fixer Upper Netflix marathon later tonight, complete with M&Ms and stove-popped popcorn. I don’t love being in the house alone by myself at night with all the kiddos, admittedly, but I do love the solace that comes with having all the children tucked in, the house buttoned up safely, the fire crackling, er, burning safely behind the glass insert, and the TV tuned to my favorite show. It’s pretty awesome. Great for every night? No. Great for a couple nights when he’s out of town? Absolutely.
Scott will be home Friday. I will definitely be d.o.n.e. by the time he rolls in the door. I will be ready to hang with him and talk and catch up and I will be ready to not be Super Mommy. But… it’s nice to realize that over the years I’ve come to see the advantages of being solo parent for awhile and I can deal. I can do this. It isn’t so bad. In some ways it’s even good. Especially when there’s an end date already established….
Does your significant other travel? How do you deal with it? Big deal? Used to it? Enjoyable?