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I should be grateful that my husband works so hard for our family. He makes a lot of sacrifices, and I know that his No. 1 motivation is our family. I've seen the tears in his eyes when he feels like the kids are growing up too quickly. I know it hurts his heart when he hears our wailing toddler express how much she misses him.
So when he leaves town for days at a time, as he regularly does, it isn't easy for any of us. But here we are, raising a family while one parent travels often.
I know I'm in good company: the mamas married to airline pilots, deployed men and women, police officers and truck drivers. It's hard be to be without your spouse for days, weeks and months at a time.
Honestly, it sucks. Even worse? There is little to no support for mamas like us. We aren't exactly single mothers, but we aren't like married women who have daily physical support of their spouses either.
Here are three things people just don't understand about this in-between role we parents with traveling partners fill:
1. How can you be married AND lonely?
Well, I am. It's not fun turning off the lights at night and knowing that my husband isn't on his way home. We don't always get to chat on the phone and catch up on each other's days when he's away, because most of the time, he's working. It's times like this when I really miss him. Part of me wants to slow down time so I can enjoy our children at their ages, and the other part of me wants to speed things up so he can retire and we can spend endless time together again.
2. Friends just don't understand
"OMGeeeee, how do you deal with that? I could never do it," friends say. Yes, you could. You do what you have to do for your family, even if the circumstances aren't ideal. It bugs me when people make comments like that, because they aren't supportive comments. Parents like me know how hard it is. But it's our reality, and we'd much rather you offer to help than discuss how hard it must be for us (and openly admit you'd never trade places).
I manage the house, the kids, my own jobs and everything in between. I am the sole caretaker of everyone.
3. He's missing out on the memories
This is the most challenging part of all, because my husband doesn't always get to pick his dates for work. When you're self-employed, you've often got to get what's coming to you while it's coming to you. That said, it isn't out of the ordinary for him to miss holiday outings, parties and other fun activities. I'm always bummed out when I take a look at his calendar and find out that he'll be out of town during an exciting moment in our toddler's life. I fight back the tears and keep going and remind myself how grateful I am that he was able to stay home with us for almost two months after the birth of our second child. That makes up some of his busier moments—sometimes.
4. I go from doing everything to letting him do everything
So how am I supposed to do this? When he's gone, I do it all. I manage the house, the kids, my own jobs and everything in between. I am the sole caretaker of everyone. When he returns, he's back to being a hands-on husband and father, and I have to drop the reins. This isn't easy, and I'm always in a constant stream of having to know when to give my all and when to let my husband take the lead (so I can take a break!)
This is our life. It isn't easy and it's far from normal. We are still trying to make sense of it all. I try to keep in my that we're not alone, I'm not a lone, all parents wear multiple hats (maybe not as many as me, but still.) Most importantly, I remind myself that I got this. And when I'm really struggling, I don't hesitate to ask for help.