My husband was recently in China for 36 days.
We didn’t go with him. That means I was holding down the fort, including wrangling three girls and their ever-changing schedules, for that time. It was a lead-up to Christmas (think shopping, wrapping, organizing), two kids got pink eye, one threw up, we took a 12-hour each-way road trip, the dog pinch a nerve in his neck and (because of the pain pills) pooped all over my living room. Plus there was dance class, art club, morning handbells, band concerts, a preschool concert, lunches to pack, homework to help with and then, for good measure, we had a snow storm.
However, it would have sucked whether my husband was there or not. Why? Because parenting is hard!
Sure, having someone to help juggle the load, tag in when things get tough and make sense of 5th grade math is nice. I would never happily let my husband head to any foreign country for 36 days, but that happens and we make it work.
As he was getting ready to come home, everyone would ask me “Are you ready to peace out to the nearest hotel and spend some time by yourself?” Sure, but I’m ready to do that any day. What mom isn’t? There were some days when I would think about his first day home. I dreamed of laying face-down on our bed and screaming my stress into the mattress. I hoped that knowing he was home would ease the ulcer that was forming in my stomach.
The thing is, I knew he was coming back.
After I started writing this blog, I stumbled upon this: FYI: You are not a single mom if you are married
When can you call yourself a single-mom? When you’re single and unmarried, raising children. Full stop.
Husband gone 5 out of 7 nights a week for work? Not a single mom.
Husband works nights and you work days? Not a single mom.
Husband doesn’t lift a finger around the house to cook, clean, or care for the kids? Not a single mom.
Husband is included in any of your vernacular when describing your relationship status? Not. A. Single. Mom.
They are right. Despite the fact that my husband was 7,000 miles and a 13-hour time difference away, I wasn’t a single mom and I certainly wasn’t doing it alone.
He took just about every phone call from me, even giving me instructions on starting the snowblower at 2 a.m. his time. He video chatted with me as I cried over the dog at the emergency vet. He responded to my late-night texts and kept tabs on me as I made my way to the East Coast solo. He took early morning calls from me when our middle daughter was in a mood and I couldn’t deal.
I have that.
People tell me all the time about their husband’s business trips years ago. There were no cell phones, no Internet and they were almost completely out of touch. My husband wasn’t deployed. He was coming home.
While my “job” is a wife and mother, there’s no defined hours, no vacation time and I certainly don’t ask my husband to “take over” when he gets home. It’s a team effort. It’s a team game. Sometimes I carry the load, sometimes he does. I just like to be in control more often. So even when he is in charge, I like to supervise.
I’m a part-time work-from-home mom. I cover more of the day-to-day items. I cook, clean and oversee more of the scheduling. But he….he gives me the chance to be here when the kids get home from school. He gives me the chance to do preschool pick up. He gives me the chance to help the kids with projects. He gives me this life.
And for that, I can’t be more thankful.