Mike travels for work on occasion. Sometimes he goes to New York and sometimes he goes to London. When it’s New York, it’s usually a three or four day trip, but when it’s London, it’s usually a week. A very long week. This week, he’s in London. He’s been gone since last Friday. Sigh.
Editor’s note: When I tell people that Mike is going to London, they almost always ask, “Are you going with him?” Is this actually something parents with two small children, a dog, two fish and an algae eater do? (Note to self: Feed fish.) With a week’s notice? Of course I want to go to London. I also want to get in and out of Target without buying a “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” movie.
When the boys were younger, Mike’s trips were a challenge difficult unbearable. Once when he arrived home after a week away, I literally broke out into a fever after keeping my s–t together all week. Then there was the week when “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy” happened. That was unfortunate.
Editor’s note: Single Mamas are rock stars.
Now that the kids are older (and they’re out of diapers and they sleep past 5:00am), Mike’s trips are totally manageable. Of course, now that I’ve said that, a piano will fall on my head. All kidding aside, between school, activities, and homework, we have a predictable structure and a steady rhythm, and the week has gone by fairly quickly. In addition, the house is a lot less messy and there are fewer pairs of socks scattered on the floor.
Editor’s note: I always thought the kids made motherhood so damn messy. Apparently, the husbands are in on it, too.
Best of all? Shopaholic binges while spouses are away are guilt-free because any Mama who singlehandedly puts two crazy monkeys to bed for seven nights in a row deserves a new pair of shoes.
Still, there’s a downside. The weekends are lonely, my bed is almost always full of uninvited men, I have to take the trash out (oops, I forgot), and the boys miss their Daddy something awful. For a long time, Mike could’ve been in Barcelona or the bathroom. (Actually, there was a trip to Barcelona once. And, no, I didn’t go with him.) At such a young age, the boys did the “out of sight out mind” bit that babies and toddlers do so well. Whoever provided food, milk, and a warm bath was all that mattered. (Similarly, I did the “out of sight out of my mind” bit that Mamas do when they feed, rock, and change poopy diapers all through the night only to be woken up before dawn and forced to finger paint.) If the boys acted out (and they did), they had no idea that it was because they missed Daddy. They just sensed something was different.
Now, Dylan and Riley know exactly where Daddy is. Literally! Mike programmed his hotel into Google Earth, so the boys can explore the streets of London on the computer. They also know precisely how long he’ll be gone…sort of. Riley doesn’t quite grasp the concept of time yet (although I have to give the kid some credit for identifying George Washington on a one dollar bill this morning), but Dylan is all over the calendar. All week he’s been saying, “After today, four more days,” then, “After today, three more days,” and so on.
Thankfully, after today, Mike will be on his way home at last. (Grateful Mama!) With all of the changes between then and now, though, one thing remains the same: On Saturday morning, when Mike is jet lagged and the kids are whiny and they need to eat breakfast and get dressed and packed up for soccer, I’ll be on my way to a well-deserved pedi cure.
Do you or your spouse travel for work? How do you and/or your kids handle it?
2 responses to “Then and Now”
About three months after we moved to Colombia (and probably less than two months since we finally got into an apartment), Gio had to go on two work trips to the U.S., almost back-to-back. We don’t have a car and so we walk the baby to preschool. It’s a 40 minute walk roundtrip, which has to be done twice per day. And of course I still really didn’t know my way around at that point or freaking know anyone. I was so lonely and so homesick and so tired! It was really rough, though I credit that time with sort of getting me to fully embrace my new home on my own individual terms.
Motherhood (parenthood) can be such a lonely experience. It’s not a bad thing…or a good thing…it’s just a thing. I believe the toughest times are the defining times and the memories that we will hold on to and savor (someday) as the best bits of our experience. At least, that’s what I hope will happen.