Sunday, May 4, 2008

Travelin' Man

Have you ever seen that AT&T wireless commercial — the one where the dad is always traveling and he takes along his daughter’s stuffed monkey. You know, the one where he takes pictures of the monkey while traveling and sends them to his wife and daughter? That is our reality quite a bit of the time. Billy is leaving again tomorrow.

While I know that our situation is not uncommon on the whole, it is among our circle of friends and family.
I typically get one of two reactions to our situation –
I don’t know how you do it. That would make me crazy! or
You’re so lucky! I wish my spouse traveled! Does he have any openings?

For the most part, our situation works for us (we make it work). Our time apart makes our time together even more precious and exciting. I like having alone time -whatever that means with 3 kids under 5. But I like doing things my own way. I have always been a very independent person, and I fancy myself a type of Super Mom, Wonder Woman. I can fix minor electrical problems. If there is a plumbing leak I could probably find the source and remedy it. I’ll haul and move heavy objects — and don’t you dare tell me I can’t. I’ll mow the lawn and shovel dirt. I can chase kids and play at the park and then slip on a dress with heels for a business meeting. I can multi-task and take care of myself, my husband, my career, our kids and home. I take care of the logistics of our life. And while I can get overwhelmed at times, I think I really thrive on it.

As time drudges on, at times I get a little uneasy. How will my husband’s hectic traveling schedule continue to fit into our family life as the kids get older and busier? And more importantly, how will I stop myself from resenting him? He gets to leave town, sleep in a quiet hotel, dine on the company’s dollar, and worry about taking care of no one but himself. All the while I am up to my hips in laundry, with dished falling out of the sink, two want juice the other's ready to go outside and play, I'm covered in almost every bodily fluid imaginable...It gets a little hectic.

The only other couple that I personally know with a situation similar to ours has not faired well. There has been infidelity, a complete breakdown of communication, and the traveling spouse has a less-than envious relationship with their children. I know I have an amazing husband — kind, sensitive, supportive, and hard-working. He loves our children and we have continued to work at making our relationship wonderful. There are HUGE differences between us and this other couple, but it has to make you wonder how much affect a traveling spouse has on a marriage and family.

Military families do it all the time. We were watching the new PBS documentary, "Carrier," last night where moms and dads aboard an aircraft carrier talked about being away from home. They said that being gone and coming back into the routine are both hard.

To make the being gone and the coming home easier, I think that I am going to take more photos/video to send to him while he's gone. We will keep setting a place for him at the table when he's gone; I think that the kids like that. We may even see if we can do a webcam so that he can still read to them at night.

I think that knowing he'd rather be at home makes him leaving a little less painful for us all.
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