The 10 Stages Moms Go Through When Their Husband Travels For Business

There have been times in our marriage when my husband has been gone traveling for work more than he has been home.

Case in point: Ireland.

When we returned to the U.S. after living in Ireland we had to fill out bunches and bunches of legal and tax paperwork. One of the documents required us to fill in a calendar for every day that we lived abroad and note whether we were “in country” (Ireland) or “out of country” (NOT-Ireland). What we discovered upon completion of that calendar confirmed exactly what I had suspected during that year abroad: my husband travelled a LOT. In fact, he was “out of country” more than he was “in country” that year. This means that I spent slightly over half of that year alone with our children in a foreign country (I am now accepting sympathy cards). Is it any wonder, then, that I gained 10 pounds when I turned to scones and sugared-laced tea for comfort that year?

His new job doesn’t have him traveling nearly as much as he did in the good ‘ol days (ha!), but that doesn’t mean we’re totally off the hook. There will always be customers and conferences and…I actually don’t understand a thing that he does, but it seems to be quite important. So, travel. Sometimes. Not as much, but sometimes.

This week Hubby happens to be in Europe preparing the way for my own European arrival/reunion with him in a few days (More on this later!!!!). The first part of his trip is business travel and, meanwhile, I’m here at home holding down the fort.

I’ve been through this husband-on-business-travel gig enough times to know what to expect by now. But just in case you were wondering, these are the stages (of grief?) that a mom goes through while Daddy is away:

Stage 1: Acknowledgment
When you see that black town car or shiny white Prius Uber pull up to your driveway, you know that this “travel thing” is really happening. His ride to the airport has arrived, and there’s no turning back. Acknowledge this new reality, and release him. You’ve got this, momma.

Stage 2: Jealousy
Your husband will send you a photo like this from his business class seat on the airplane:

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(Actual photo sent to me by my husband as he sat on the plane sipping champagne while I changed my 4th poopy diaper of the day.)

Yes, he will lament how this is “just business” and “no fun”, but you know the truth. Sitting on an airplane with unlimited and uninterrupted entertainment and snacks at your literal fingertips is just about as close to heaven as you can fathom. And then he’ll arrive at his destination and go out to Michelin-starred restaurants THAT HIS COMPANY PAYS FOR while you eat leftover mac ‘n cheese with your kids for the third night in a row.

Yeah, rough life, buddy.

Stage 3: Busy bee
In order to occupy your mind with something other than his absence, you purposefully over-schedule yourself. Why, yes I can bake muffins for breakfast every morning and do that extra volunteer project and wash the car and scrub the garage floors! And, yes, I will go to your birthday party and weekend BBQ and farm festival and the Alice and Wonderland Tea Party at the library. Just get me out of this house before I explode.

Stage 4: Responsibility
You realize that during this period of time you are solely responsible for the health, safety, discipline, and literal life of your offspring. There is no Daddy here to back you up, no extra person to stay home with the kids at night while you run out to do such-and-such, no partner to converse with and determine outcomes. You are it, the one and only parent. And that? That is a lot of responsibility.

Stage 5: Fear
What if someone gets sick? What if an intruder tries to break into our house? What if there’s an earthquake and I sleep through the whole thing? I’d better pack a first aid kit, a baseball bat and an earthquake survival kit just in case.

Stage 6: Cray-cray
It’s been a long day (or week or month). Too long. Why do these kids always cry? Why do they always need something? Why do they want to eat EVERY. SINGLE.  DAY? Why do they have so many questions? You are going actual crazy. You call your mom/best friend/therapist for reassurance and a swift kick in the pants. Remember: you’ve got this, momma.

Stage 7: Grief
Oh my GOSH I miss him so MUCH!!! I promise I’ll never nag him again about his socks on the floor in front of the laundry hamper!!! Just please come home and hold me in your tender embrace! It gets so bad that you start watching Sarah Mclachlan pet adoption videos so you can feel sorry for someone other than yourself.

Stage 8: Exhaustion
Stick a fork in me, because I’m done. I’m going to take a nap now. It will last for approximately 8 billion trillion years, and don’t anyone dare try to wake me up.

Stage 9: Excitement
Ack! It’s almost over! He’s coming home tonight!!! QUICK!!!! Clean the house, wash the dishes, shove the laundry into the closets, groom the children, and recycle the wine bottles–we don’t want him to know how we actually live while he’s away.

Stage 10: Relief
He walks in the door and you melt into a puddle of spent motherhood at his feet. You survived, but barely. Now don’t let him claim that he needs a nap after all of his travel. Mommy: out. You’ve got this, daddy-o.

Safe travels, Hubby, and I really do love you! Thank you for working so hard for our family…even if I do work 10 times harder here at home 😉

 

 

 

Keeping Connected When Dad Is Away

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This week Jon is in Ireland doing his third (and final) housing search for our Big Move next week (!). Even though we are excited for the reason that Daddy is away from us, Ireland is still far away. It’s far, far away. But do we let that get us down? Of course not! In fact, we’ve come up with several ways that we keep connected (and keep our sanity) while one or–rarely–both parents are away. Here are some of my favorites:

  • We use my iPhone to record videos of my husband reading some of David’s favorite books. During story time and bed time we always start with one of the “Daddy reading” videos.
  • We print off photos of us or our family and use the back of each photo to write a little note to the boys. Each day while we are away they get a new photo note.
  • We buy little gifts for each day that we are away (stickers, a tub of play doh, sidewalk chalk, books). David gets to open one special gift each day (it’s nice to have something fun to look forward to each day when you’re missing somebody special!).
  • We use Skype or use iChat to video chat with each other every day. With time zones, naptimes and busy schedules this can be tricky, but we always try to make it happen.
  • We do special things to make the time go more quickly when Daddy is away. A trip to the zoo or the children’s museum, lunch with friends, baking yummy treats (I’ve already baked cookies twice in the last two days. Hmmm….)–anything that keeps us occupied and entertained.
  • We go on mini-vacations ourselves. If Daddy is gone for a week or more, I will usually pack up the boys for an over-nighter at one of their grandparents’ houses. They love seeing Grandma and Grandpa, and I love having an extra set of hands!
  • We make a “welcome home” project for Daddy. This could be a craft, a picture that David paints, or a video of something neat the boys did this week. We have our welcome home project ready and waiting for Daddy when he returns.
  • I get a babysitter. At least once when Daddy is away I will hire a babysitter to come by for a few hours so I can leave the house sans children. This week I have my mom coming up one day and a hired babysitter coming over later in the week.
  • We look at photos and videos of Daddy when we start to miss him. Sometimes we’ll even hook up my computer to the big TV screen so we can see the photos in real-life-size. As we’re looking at the photos, we talk about all of the fun things we were doing when the photos were taken.

It can be difficult to have a parent away, but we can still have fun while we’re waiting for them to return!