When He’s Gone: Then vs. Now

by farrah on February 20, 2014 · 10 comments

I am not complaining. I.Am.Not.

Many, many of us live as solo parents when our spouse is away for work travel. I’m lucky- my husband isn’t gone all that much. At least compared to some stories that I’ve heard. I know I have it good. But still- if you asked me what my favorite thing to do is- I would not answer spend a week alone with my kids while my husband is off working abroad. No. I most definitely would not. Today’s post comes in honor of my husband’s second stint in Japan. He left Tuesday and returns Saturday night.

Revtank Outtakes

So as I said- I am not complaining. However while making dinner tonight I realized I was breaking early and throwing a frozen pizza and chicken fingers in the oven. I had thin flank steaks to make- but nope. Here I was just over 24 hours in and I was caving. I was taking the ‘survival method’ out since I was beat. Mentally though- no longer physically. We’ve come a long way, baby.


He didn’t go anywhere. Basically, we moved to SC in 2006 and even though he worked for a German company- he only went on a trip or two. There were catastrophes back at home on the two occasions (before children) that he went somewhere, so that was it. And then three years later I was pregnant and did not jive with being by myself. And then the baby. Oh no. You think you’re going to get on a plane and take off? Hahahhahahah! He never even asked. I knew he wanted to go- but my husband is always the first person to sacrifice his own personal happiness for mine. I have no idea how many offers he turned down- but I imagine there were a few. Not proud to say how needy I really was.

And then there were two more babies. Oh, you thought that last paragraph was in general about all of the boys, right? Ah no. I was an absolute disaster after the twins arrived. I always felt like I was in the weeds. I was always sinking. I texted him a gazillion times a day asking him HOW MUCH LONGER??? and wasn’t kidding, even if it was only 2 in the afternoon. We did have help, and without our sitter I wouldn’t have survived. The year before we moved we had a middle school age mother’s helper who came by in the afternoons. All of that was great. But not on your life was I going to say ‘Have a great trip dear‘ as he breezed out the door. Oh no.

One trip in particular I recall was in Germany. We were still living in SC, and when he got back I asked him about it. Thinking I was genuinely interested, he made some mention as to how long the dinners were with their eight gazillion courses and beer and dragged on and…. my eyes went flat and said ‘You are dead to me if you finish that sentence’. So that was the last time I asked about the social end of things on these trips.


I wonder if he ever thought that he’d be able to travel for work again. I know that he loved it, and missed it dearly- but I was just too dependent on his help (physical, emotional and mental) for him to leave me. And he didn’t. We had one or two trips that he tried to take- but it wasn’t worth the grief in the long run. I didn’t even think that someday it would be possible- for him to travel again, but we’re doing it. And it’s actually ok. (—> note I am saying this on Wednesday night and he comes home on Saturday.)

A while back I wrote about how I looked for little traditions to make with the boys when he was away. Not making it time that we dread. But tonight while I threw the pizza in the oven it dawned on me that although I am now physically and emotionally able to take care of the boys while he’s gone: mentally it is a marathon. But not just a regular old marathon. This is like one of those insane Iron ManΒ /Woman 100 mile races.

Between B- The almost-five-who-never-ever-ever -stops-talking and The-two-three-and-a-halfs-that-bend-my-will-to-live, I laugh at how different this is with my husband gone. I’m not physically tired from lifting, propping, nursing, carrying, etc. I’m not emotionally sucked dry from crying, fussing or gas. I am just a mental blob of goo when the day is done. I cannot think. So even though it stinks to be mentally useless, it could be worse. I could be sitting in a corner rocking myself and muttering. Thankfully- none of that is happening.

Going forward

So live it up honey! You know I don’t begrudge you these work trips. Not when a) they make you happy and b) I am very happy when I get to go on one of my mama getaways to make up for it. I have to admit I’m kinda proud of myself too- considering where we’ve been, to where we are.

And mama friends with little ones who have husbands that travel: You’re a bigger person than I by not crumbling and being able to handle it. I never could. But know that it is always, always, always getting easier and better.

Did I just really say that?

Random things I do to make life easier while he’s gone:

  • I run the dishwasher at night, then during the day I only use dishes from it. This way I never have to really ’empty the dishwasher’. It’s all very practical. And lazy. Must be ok with a sink full of dishes during the day.
  • I don’t do laundry. Maybe a load or two TOTAL, but that’s it. And it never makes it out of the laundry room.
  • After school playdates are encouraged. Here or there I don’t care- just play with my kids until they’re exhausted.
  • Dinner in the living room in front of a movie. It’s our thing. The boys love it.
  • Allow them to ‘sleep over’ in each other’s room at bedtime. Drag a mattress into the twins’ room and B camps out on the floor. Pure novelty.
  • DO NOT become tempted into a third glass of wine at night. I go to bed around 10pm and feel much, much better (not to mention more responsible) in the morning.

Sidenote: Funny post here from the Nomad Mom Diary: 10 Things Your Husband Shouln’t Say After A Business Trip. Because really. He just should not say these things.

What are some things you add to make life easier when going it alone?


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn @NomadMomDiary February 20, 2014 at 11:43 am

My husband just left town again today – leaving the house at 4am, no less. Your link to my post was a ray of sunshine on my otherwise gray and sleep-deprived day. I love it when the partner at homes talks about these situations. They are HARD and yet we somehow feel embarrassed complaining about being a temporary single parent when there are people that face it every day. But the fact is that they are SUPER HEROES and the rest of us mere mortals do have a hard time with our temporary extra burden and we shouldn’t feel ashamed to say that we’re having a hard time.

To sum up this long-winded comment, “Right on sister!”


2 farrah February 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Hey! Glad it brightened your day. I’ve seen you trudge through this many times as well- marching on. Glad you were able to get in to comment in between the up and down today too πŸ™‚


3 Ace February 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Love it. I laughed out loud at putting pizza in the oven night one – because that’s EXACTLY what I did last week in the same situation, night one. And at the time I couldn’t help thinking about all those amazing full-time sole-parents, because I would be a hot mess. =)


4 farrah February 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I was very proud of myself for actually making a real dinner lsat night- but they also slept crappier than they did that first night! Correlation? Possibly.


5 CK February 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Bed time comes earlier when my husband travels… makes everyone happy!!

My husband is gone almost every 3rd week – when our little was first born, my husband traveled oversees 2-weeks after the little one came home from the hospital!!! Pre-kids, I travelled a lot for work and know how busy, but how ‘relaxing’ international travel is (at least to me)! As such, I don’t take much of his ‘complaining’ how tired he is when he gets back – he did have over 9hrs on a plane to relax and sleep after all!!!!


6 farrah February 21, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Oh no, my husband would never utter that he was tired. He’d simply fall asleep standing πŸ™‚ He’s great though jumping in when he gets back- but back in the day I was just terrified. Looking back on it now, I think I was pretty dramatic about it- considering now I’m ok being left alone in a foreign country- while he’s even FARTHER away! Oh perspective really is everything!


7 Chamisa February 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I’ve got a week without my husband coming in a few months, and I’m dreading it. I already do the pizza in front of the TV thing when he works late one night/week, but man alive, what a great (lazy but perfect) idea to run the dishwasher and then only use dishes out of it – yes! And no laundry? Excellent. Keep those tips coming πŸ™‚


8 Amy February 23, 2014 at 5:36 am

I am all about the cooking/cleaning shortcuts when my husband leaves, or even if he’s just working late. Last time he left I made an effort to get out of the house with the kids from 4:00-6:00 at least a few nights to preserve everyone’s sanity. Hope it went OK!


9 SJ @ Chasing the Donkey March 3, 2014 at 12:07 am

Can you come and load my dishwasher? Seriously my sink overflows everyday. Sometimes I stack in up so it looks neat, and then run away from it. Kudos to you for going it alone with 3 boys – hugs to you Mama.


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