Making or Breaking A Solo Parenting Weekend

by farrah on November 11, 2013 · 8 comments

I’m no stranger to a business-traveling husband. Granted, he doesn’t travel all that much compared to many fathers out there- but he does a little bit. Back when the boys were little if he was going away on a long trip (2 weeks or so) his mother would come down to SC and help me out. I seem to remember that it was so much harder then- when they were just babies. Three babies. It was something that scared me and made me feel overwhelmed at the very idea.

photo-281The sleepover

I know that so many of us are out there solo parenting for weeks, months, even entire childhoods. I don’t know what it’s like to be a military spouse and not have help for months at a time. I also can’t imagine what it would be like as a single parent- always the only one, the go-to for everything. Never having a moment of peace, no end in sight. I don’t know what that would be like but I (as always) give props to those who do it.

My husband has been in Michigan since Saturday morning and he’ll be home tomorrow. Not long at all. He’s been able to combine some work meetings with visiting family and friends which has been great. He even got to pop in on Napa– which I bet was difficult and wonderful at the same time. Being from the same hometown in Michigan, everyone is right there- my family as well as his which has got to make it extremely convenient with such a small window.

We went to our favorite store in town and watched the Christmas train display. Which felt like hours.

So for the past few days, the boys and I have done our thing without him around. I’m reminded how much of a help he is during the more frustrating parts of the day but I have to say, this time I focused more on ‘just them‘ than I have in a long time. There was no 5:30pm to look forward to when he’d come through the door, and at 6am when everyone wanted to get up- that would be my job. But for some reason this time- the boys and I were all getting along. For the most part, anyhow. I let laundry slide- I kept up on the kitchen, and stuck to our daily routine.

Linc washing dishes. Next time I will specify that he probably shouldn’t wash the grape tomatoes for dinner with soap.

Saturday we ran around town a little bit- came home and made dinner. What an extra special treat it was to eat pizza on the couch in front of the tv! I remember my mom doing little things at dinner when my dad worked late or long shifts- and my hope is that the weekends (or weeks) spent alone with ‘just me’ aren’t the worst memories ever. Yeah, I can be a bit of a drill seargant- but my boys have me figured out. I’m a lot of bark, not much bite. They know when I’m really, really mad- and when they can get away with a ‘Sor-ry mama…’. It’s ok. They’re good kids, good people in general, and I know aren’t out to do any real harm.

At bedtime I let them all camp out in the same room. The twins share a room so I put B’s mattress on the floor. They hooted and hollered for a while- and on my last trip up to tell them ‘Really! THIS IS IT!’ Brody was asleep in the middle of the chaos. It was 9:20pm and he was out- and the two jokers weren’t far behind. I tucked them both in one last time and said goodnight. No tears. No ‘I miss Daddy, not you!’ nothing like that. Sure they miss their dad- he’s pretty awesome with them, but I didn’t have to make them dread their only solo opportunities with me either.

That was where the light bulb went on. A weekend, a few days- whatever with the kids alone shouldn’t be something I dread or face with trepidation. It’s a chance for them to make memories with just me. I could make or break those days. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at it like that before- and have to admit that it’s really made things pretty nice. Well, you know that’s all being relative as it’s never all sunshine and rainbows. I have yet to meet a parent that saw life through that perspective and if they do… I don’t think they’re someone I want to know.

PS- I would like to note that since he’s been gone I’ve been asked how babies get in a mamas belly and why girls don’t have a pee pee. All good things to ask, but why can’t they wait until next weekend when I’m gone?

But this hasn’t been too bad. Let’s all hope when he goes away again next month for a week I feel the same!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karla November 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Some of my best memories with my mother were when my dad was on business trips. When I was young, this meant I got to sleep with her in her bed and when I was older, it meant dinner out with just the two of us. Despite missing him when I was away, I would look forward to him having business trips because it meant I got these special treats, phone calls from him from far-away places, and he always brought some little thing home for me (which he was probably given at whatever convention he was at but even a pen and note pad seemed like a cool gift to get from wherever he went). The only time I really threw a fit about his travel was when I was 6. The Iraq war had just begun and he had business in India for 10 days–his longest trip and first one over seas. In my little mind, I knew that Iraq was on the other side of an ocean and when I learned that India was, too, I decided they were the same place and I was terrified. No amount of trying to show me a map would change my mind. But, he came home safetly and with more little gifts than usual and many of them were strange little trinkets I had never seen before.

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2 farrah November 12, 2013 at 8:02 am

Karla, that’s pretty awesome. I’m really going to try to make the time we have ‘just us’ a little more special. I love that you have those memories- and totally understand how you must have felt the way you did back on that trip of his to India. Stuff like that is so confusing to a kid. Andy goes to Vietnam next month and a lifetime ago that would have been the last place on earth to be. So crazy.

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3 Amy November 12, 2013 at 4:25 am

That dishwashing pic is so cute. I can relate – when my husband travels and is gone gone vs. just gone-at-work-but-I-anxiously-await-his-return it is a different vibe. I am probably less stressed around the 5-6:00 hour than usual because I have prepared -mentally and otherwise- to do it alone. What I mean by that is, breakfast for dinner.

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4 farrah November 12, 2013 at 8:03 am

I think you’ve nailed it- I was less stressed over the past few days- I think because I wasn’t counting on relief. And we had frozen pizza for dinner. A couple of times.

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5 Veronika November 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

In our house it is the other way around. We have 10 month old twins and a 4 year old boy and unfortunately every three months or so I am the one travelling for two or three days. So I have a little bit of break from the kids ( I am still on maternity leave while working as well – situation in Czech republic is “interesting” regarding maternity leaves) but have to arrange everything for my husband and our mothers so they would have it easier at home with the kids. My husband is great with the kids and can take care of them very well but he is not as quick in certain situations as it is necessary and that sometimes develops into a bit of mayhem. So I am not sure my son sees is as a treat that I am away, because I think the evenings are more stressful. So usually I do something special just with him before or after the trip to make up for it.

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6 farrah November 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

Wow- you’ve got a great husband! And yes- the ‘slower to react’ thing I think is pretty universal 🙂
Interesting perspective- I love hearing how families do things in different countries- while at the same time see how we are overall very similar.

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7 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey November 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm

As you know I parent alone for weeks at a time, and I have to say that I have never thought of it like a chance to make special memories. I think I get too caught up in the hum drum of chores… I must make sure to keep that in mind. Thanks Farrah.
Ohhh and perhaps you can plant a few seeds in the boys heads of things they should ask their father this weekend….

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