For the second week in a row my husband is traveling for work. And not just an overnight trip, I’m talking two 5-day trips. For a stay at home mom, a trip that long might as well be a prison sentence with adorable, yet a-holey guards. It’s exhausting being on duty literally 24/7 with zero reprieve from the kids. I love ’em, but man, they know how to wear a mom down.
These back-to-back trips have violently shoved me into survival mode, especially when you factor in a tortuously long snow day that almost robbed me of my faculties entirely. I’m worn out to the point where I sort of feel like I’m slowly fading away à la Michael J Fox in Back to the Future only I don’t think “Earth Angel” is going to bring me back. That being said, it’s not all doom and gloom over here as there are some delightful perks to my husband being out-of-town. I’m laying it out there with an old fashion pros and cons list.
- The Bed: It’s just me, myself, and I sharing a sprawling king-sized bed. Well, me and an overweight mini-dachshund, too. Long gone are the days where we would fall asleep in each others’ arms sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings. Ok, let’s be honest. I’m pretty sure that NEVER happened. I also don’t subscribe to the “I don’t really sleep well when he’s not next to me” thing. You know why? Besides being too exhausted to care, there’s no fighting for the covers, no wondering if my tossing and turning is keeping someone else awake, and plenty of room for me to gloriously lay in the dead center of the bed splayed out like a star fish. Middle of the bed is best. Scientific fact.
- Dinner: I hate cooking. I really do. So if there’s not another person to worry about, why even bother? Dinner can consist of a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn a la Olivia Pope. Plus some sort of chocolate pairing.
- Alone Time: My days are filled with being climbed on, clawed at, and cried to – I am never alone. I love my husband dearly, but on occasion it truly is nice to have an evening alone filled with things that I want to do – like spend hours on my laptop online shopping for clothes that I will never buy and pinning things that I will never do.
- The DVR: I swear if I have to watch Guy Fieri talk about another trip to flavor town on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives I may take a baseball bat to every TV in the house. That’s why I look forward to having free reign of the TV and putting a serious dent in the DVR backlog. I can watch the full Bravo line-up without any snide commentary in the background (even though I maintain he secretly likes Vanderpump Rules) or have myself a one-woman sobfest as I catch up on This Is Us
- Cleaning: Every night I get a Waze from Joe that I stalk obsessively because I need to know exactly how many minutes left of solo parenting I have left. When he’s about 10 minutes away I begin to rapidly tidy the house, throwing crap haphazardly into places where it shouldn’t probably go to maintain the shaky ruse that I keep it pristine all day long. But when he’s gone, the kids and I live in a blissful dump of a house that could be featured on Hoarders: Toddler Edition. Something has to fall by the wayside and I’m not heartbroken that cleanliness goes first.
- The Obvious: We all miss him terribly when he’s gone. Olivia wanders around saying “DA-DEE? DA-DEE?” AJR particularly asks for him at night and I no longer have him there to grab me by the shoulders at the end of a long day and say “Get it together, woman! You’re losing it!” Our family mojo is all out of whack and only stabilizes once he’s back in town.
- Errands: As a stay-at-home-mom there isn’t a lunch break or opportunity to swing by on my way home from an office to pick something up. Errands always have to be done with one or both kids in tow, which is about as alluring a prospect as wrestling a honey badger. If I go out, I better make sure it’s something that I really can’t live without. Like the time I took Olivia into the wine shop with me. You know, necessities.
- Irrational Safety Concerns: AJR is the Haley Joel Osment of his day in that he sees dead people. Or tells me he does at 2am. Do you know how f’ing terrifying it is to crawl back into bed alone in a dark house thinking that there are ghosts of little boys floating around? If there were any legitimate paranormal activity, Joe would be the default to investigate. And it’s my hope that if these were vengeful spirits, he would provide a lengthy enough distraction allowing me to high-tail it out of the house with the kids and my “go pack”.
- Personal Hygiene: I rely pretty heavily on my 10 minute shower each morning. This is a luxury that helps me feel ready to take on the day as the sound of the water drowns out my children’s cries and ensures I don’t smell like a dank sponge that’s been shoved in someone’s armpit. Now showers mostly happen around 8pm. Sorry to anyone that’s had to be downwind of me lately.
- Bedtime: By 7:00pm patience is nowhere to be found. I have mentally checked out and I’m ready zone out in front of the TV while holding my phone scrolling social media. So when AJR is up for the 4th time asking for god only knows what, Joe – who hasn’t been exposed to his manipulative ploys for the past 12 hours – is more than happy to spring into action and see him one last time. No dice when he’s traveling. The burden of getting him to fall asleep falls on me and only me. And maybe one of these days, Benadryl.
- Mornings: Olivia hits us with bloodcurdling screams around 5:00am…this is after we’ve been up 2-3x running AJR to the bathroom, helping him ponder life’s greatest mysteries, or tucking him back in with more force than necessary. Usually we run this misery like a wrestling tag-team duo where we can try to piece together some decent sleep. But when I’m flying solo I have to handle all the nighttime wakings and the early a.m. wake-up call. As a result, my coffee intake gets jacked way up to artificially inflate any remaining patience I have in the reserves. I assure you, this is essential to my children’s survival.
- Everything else. Having my husband home allows me to hit my internal “reset button” so I can go on to mom another day. There’s another human being to talk to at night who will listen quietly while I regale him with tales from our day. Not only is he there to mentally hold me up and pour my wine, there’s a bunch of crap he takes care of that I don’t have to worry about . You don’t realize the magnitude of all the things that have to be done when you’re missing your other half, which is why when he finally comes home I’m going to be all like this: