When dad’s away, it’s kind of ok

She said:

My husband, Thomas, just returned from eleven days in Ireland retracing the family roots with his parents. When he first told me of this trip, I had that same feeling I have every time he has to go out of town for business – panic:  “you’re leaving me alone with these… these… these… children?!” How will I  juggle it all myself?  The meals, bedtimes, schedules, the start of a new school year, etc. Well, guess what? (Actually, this won’t come as a surprise to most women reading this) it was F-I-N-E, pretty much.

When Thomas is around, which is most of the time, I take his interests and feelings into consideration so much, being the dutiful wife that I am, that I sometimes forget that I can manage it all alone when I need to. I sound so insecure and helpless, don’t I? It’s not that, it’s just that, after twenty-two years of marriage, I’m really used to thinking about a lot of things jointly which leads to me forget how perfectly capable I am on my own. Let me go on record here as saying I’d rather parent with him than without him!

Yes, I did experience a few problems like when the broiler coil in the stove, the hot water handle in the shower, the turn signals in my car and one of the TV’s all stopped working THE DAY HE LEFT! What is up with that?  Well, some things I fixed myself and others had to wait until his return last week (ok, we’re still waiting but he was jet lagged).

Overall, though, it was calm and peaceful and it felt a little too good to NOT have to consider another adult’s interests, schedule or moods!  However, there’s a slippery slope that I’m concerned about. What if I get really good at this parenting alone? What if it starts to become more of a hassle to parent with Thomas than it is to parent without him? I keep thinking of a friend of mine with two daughters. Her husband had to travel extensively, like six months out of the year. At first she resented it and felt nearly swallowed up by the responsibility of it all. Then she started to get in a groove and got good at it. Really good at it. When her husband came home, she and the girls had to figure out how to re-integrate him in their lives and he had to figure out how to be their husband and dad again. It was very hard on all of them. Sadly, this went on so long (the absences and attempted readjustment) that he was never able to get in the groove with them. They divorced. Now she’s in the groove with the girls when they spend time with her and her ex has developed his own groove with the girls under his own roof. It’s a cautionary tale.

I’ve talked to other mothers, especially stay-at-home moms, who get annoyed when, after being home all day with the kids, their husbands swoop in and suggest they try some sort of fix like “have you tried rocking her to stop the crying?” “Gee, no, honey, that hadn’t occurred to me at all. I’m so glad you are home to offer that suggestion”, they respond.  Boy, oh, boy, it’s tough. Men, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And women, we’re in a hard position too. We want to parent jointly and hope like heck that we’ll all just magically agree on everything. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. So we continue on, struggling through it, trying to do what’s best for everyone concerned. In the process though, we mothers are reminded that even though it’s enormously hard, we are able to get along without our men just fine when we have to. (Just don’t start enjoying it too much!)

3 thoughts on “When dad’s away, it’s kind of ok

  1. It was great to read your post and hear the words in my head jump out on your page. My husband travels frequently and I too have felt the same as you and the other mom you mentioned.

    It is a a challenge to adjust to a schedule with and without Dad around. I was pretty independent before I got married that it was an adjustment to be married and rely on someone else. Once I did it was great to have a partner to rely on. Then my son came along and it was an adjustment to take care of my little one, share the responsibility and balance life. What a challenge. Then throw in Dad leaving for at least 2 weeks out of every month…..there is a curve ball for ya.

    But over the past 4 years, I have learned how to manage and balance this new chapter in my life. Thank goodness for marriage counseling, learning to communicate better, and learning to relax more has made a big difference. It isn’t always easy to navigate this path, I still encounter and revisit my old ways of dealing with Dad traveling, but I have better tools to cope, a great support system, and have a better perspective. I think of other mothers/families that go months/years without seeing a loved one due to unforeseen circumstances.

    Thanks for writing a great post and giving me time to reflect and remember that I am not alone being a part-time single parent.

    1. Valerie – Thank you so much for your comment. I often think of families like those in the military who are parenting alone for really long periods of time and under much, much more stressful situations than I am. At those times I feel pretty silly both being in a panic at dealing with my children myself and proud of myself for having coped for a whopping 11 days. Still, we parents must grab what little victories we can, when we can while keeping things in perspective. Thomas and I appreciate you reading our blog and commenting and look forward to hearing from you and other readers in the future. — Courtney

  2. i can understand how it would be hard to relinquish the parental reins to a mate who’s been gone a while but i don’t have that problem at all lol! my hubby doesn’t go out of town often but when he does i don’t panic cuz i’ll have the kids to myself. i panic cuz i will miss him and worry about his safety the whole time ha. the kids and i actually have a smoother schedule because i stick to the rules such as a set bedtime. when hubby is home all bets are off. you remember that movie “honey, i blew up the kid”? there is a line in it i relate to. the mom says “daddys are for fun but moms mean business” or something along those lines. well, hubby is the playful one and i’m mostly all business so when he’s home it’s playtime! i like that because i can have some “me” time then. so maybe moms having that kind of problem can let their hubbys have fun with their kids when they get home so moms can have an excuse to go have her hair done. =o]

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