In the recent spirit of being vulnerable, let’s go ahead and address the recent topic of spous-al travel…in the middle of the winter in the Northeast…for 14 days.
As my friend texted me back on Day 14, “I’m not crying…I’m fine..ur crying…I’m fine..seriously…IM FINNNEE.”
Ben doesn’t travel this much all of the time, but we’re on about an annual cycle of him going somewhere for 1-2 weeks here and there…so, I’m starting to see how it goes.
It’s like this: the first 4-5 days, I’m good. I actually sort of brainwash myself to believe that I could do it all the time. Like, it’s almost easier when he’s not around. But, God help everyone around me on that 4th or 5th day when something switches over and I start to become a helpless train wreck.
That’s about when I hit some degree of a low point, and there’s some combination of wine, teenage-version-boydumpedme-level cry session, and the marathon of multiple groups of girlfriend text threads begins.
Then, a day or two before he comes home, I get my feet back on the ground again and start seeing it all for what it is: my kids are all old enough that they’re not really the issue…it’s just that I’m lonely.
I realize how lonely it is to go to the Super Bowl at Harry’s by myself, eat dinner alone at the kitchen table while the kids wrestle in the living room, and lay in a King size bed by myself with nothing but the sound of my humidifier humming and my daily, regular use of my retainer because there’s no chance of anyone kissing me on the mouth.
Finally, he’s back and I get the same question from everyone: “Is it so awesome to have Ben home?”
Here’s the unfiltered, honest truth: yes…well, sort of. When he’s gone for this long, there’s a definite adjustment period when I have to put the brakes on the momentum I gained while he was away.
Yes, it’s great to see him and talk to him and lay down on a couch with him at the end of the day. But, when he’s around all the time, I forget how much awareness and balancing of parental decision-making goes on…and, how structured and self-satisfying it can be when I have 100% control over everything that goes on around me.
And, maybe back in the day I used to be better about running to him and tackling him with love and affection when we went long periods of time apart, but that sort of showering has turned into a scene from a movie when the boss finally comes back in town from a long travel and the administrative assistant spends the entire time trying to catch him or her up to speed on the state of the office and what was missed over the last week or two.
I’m not saying that I like him being away. At all. But, I do think there is a significant shift that starts taking place when he’s away for long periods of time…which apparently for me, starts happening after that 4 or 5 day check point.
I do think it’s kid-age dependent, and there’s an obvious progression of all of this as kids get older. Two years ago, that check point was more like 1-2 nights. A year ago, it was 3-4. And, a year or two from now, it will likely be more around that week mark.
But, what I have to say is I have an enormous amount of respect for the families that keep schedules like this regularly. And, the single parents out there who live this as their daily life.
I don’t know how you do it, and how you make it look so easy and manageable. You guys are what I use for fuel to gain perspective and be grateful for all of the little, daily luxuries I have that I need to direct my attention to…instead of all the ways I’m feeling sorry for myself for being home for a couple of weeks on my own.
Because, as always, it just comes down to your perspective and how you decide to process your own experience. And, the reminder that if we were to all toss our “problems” into a huge pile, we’d be begging to have our own back…and, NOT have to take on other people’s issues.