This morning, I got up early, hunted around the house for clean socks and underwear and jeans, and helped pack up my husband for a work trip. I loaded the kids in the car, drove him to the airport, watched tearful goodbyes from the kids and drove home with cries of “I miss Daddy” ringing in my ears. He’ll be back in three days, but for these kids, three days might as well be three weeks. They should be used to this. They should understand the routine. Daddy has to travel at least every other month or so and has since they were born. But still, they take it hard. And so do I. At least…some of the time
But can I be honest with you for a minute? It’s not ALL bad….
The reality is, I’m parenting alone from about 6am to 6pm anyway. The kids go to bed by 8:30 at the absolute latest. So yes, while having help during those couple hours a night is hugely helpful, the net gains aren’t too shabby.
Like today, my Mom invited me and the kids over for pancakes. We’re always welcome, but there was a special invitation because I was alone and had to feed the kids. (Just like every single day when The Daddy’s at work). I was treated to a meal that I didn’t have to cook OR pay for! Then in the name of parenting alone, we abandoned all of those silly rules like “Don’t watch TV until your eyes bleed” and “We only eat at the dinner table” and “You have to wear clothes when you play outside.” I mean, I’m watching three kids by myself for four days. We’re just trying to survive!
And coffee? Yes, one, two, maybe three trips to Starbucks a day! I can’t keep track! I’m too busy being wildly outnumbered! And since I’m missing a pair of hands, let’s just go ahead and pad that takeout budget a bit for this week. It’ll help ease the burden of navigating the night alone.
Now, it’s not all fun and games…
From about 6:30-7:30 the house is pure chaos and I feel like I’m in the seventh circle of Hell. Feeding, bathing and getting three tiny kids ready for bed at the same time is not for the faint of heart. But once the food is eaten, hairs are washed, teeth are brushed, butts are diapered, and everyone is cozy in their pajamas we snuggle up with some books and wind down. If everything is going perfectly, we have a magical night. If it’s not? I call it and toss those kids in their beds early – a practice good ol’ Daddio is staunchly against. But guess what? HE AIN’T HERE! NIGHTY NIGHT LITTLE SALTIES!!
Now that the kids are in bed and the hour of insanity is over comes the absolutely best part of Daddy Travel Days…the ME TIME. That’s right. For all intents and purposes, I’m ALONE. I can do whatever I want, eat whatever I want, drink whatever I want and watch whatever I want. No judgement, no compromise, no “Tap-Tap” from the other side of the bed. Oh, and the BED! Mine, ALL MINE! You don’t know how luxurious a Queen size bed can be until your 6’7” husband is NOT in it!
So I crawl in, bring my laptop AND my phone – because there’s no one there to police the “no electronics in the bedroom” policy – and cruise Netflix. I pick something that isn’t even remotely Sci-Fi, something Chad would totally hate, and barely watch it while I fall into the rabbit hole of FB and blogs and YouTube and Buzzfeed. When I’m finally ready to shut down, I go grab some ice cream and eat that in bed while watching an old reunion episode of RHOAnywhere. The morning is going to be rough, but staying awake until the wee hours to feel like ME was worth it.
But after a few days, I have to admit the me time loses it’s luster. I start to grow weary of doing the bedtime routine alone. Of not having a person to commiserate with at the end of the day. The fun and freedom only lasts a few days and then we’re all missing Daddy. Hopefully by then he’s coming home. We grab the drawings we made him, talk about the stories we’re going to tell him, and load into the car, full of homecoming anticipation. As we pull up to the curb the kids shriek with excitement at finding Daddy. We exchange, “I missed you”s and tell each other what a terrible time we had without the other one.
Even if maybe we loved the break just a teeny tiny bit.