OK, I knew before I was a mom I was going to stay home with the kids. But I didn’t realize that meant my husband Bill would travel the world without me.
Just a few weeks after we began dating in 1994, we went on our first business trip together. What could have spelled disaster was absolutely fine. We were together for days on end and did not want to strangle each other. That successful business trip led to dozens more.
Now that we’re married and have kids, though, I’m a true stay-at-home-mom. Sometimes I threaten to tag along on his trips, but then I calculate the cost of bringing our daughters, or the trauma of not bringing them, and give up.
I’ve been a good sport.
But since August, I’ve become a virtual single mother. Bill has been to San Diego, New Haven, Berkeley, NYC, Knoxville, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Boston, Phoenix and West Virginia. Sure he comes home weekends, but then he’s recuperating on the sofa for his next trip.
Me? I have been to school and back. Well, no. I’ve also been to the community pool (girls’ lessons), the dance studio (girls’ ballet) and piano class (not mine).
That’s not to say there hasn’t been excitement. I’ve seen many men in my husband’s absence – the plumbers who replaced our hot water heater and sump pump, two roof salesmen and the 15 guys who put on the roof and, oh yes, the doctors at the ER who confirmed my concussion, earned falling off my bike while riding the girls to school.
I’ve had better autumns.
But I’m feeling proud of how self-reliant I’ve become. Generally I’m indecisive and leave the big decisions to Bill, yet I tangled with the hard-sell home improvement guys. And although I’m terrible at time management, I have gotten the girls to school on-time every day. Even the morning I fell off my bike and sat bleeding in a neighbor’s driveway, my girls weren’t late!
I have so much respect for single moms! Having no one to rely on to find that missing shoe in the morning? No one to watch your kids when you have to run to the store for just one or two things? Horrible!
That happened last week. I needed black olives, so we all had to go. Naturally, while unloading the half-cart of groceries I didn’t need, I saw I’d forgotten the darned olives. I asked the girls to stay with the cart while I ran back, cursing them under my breath for distracting me by fighting and running the cart into assorted little old ladies.
But when I returned, not only had they kept our place, they’d put all of our groceries on the conveyer belt and tiny Suzi was teetering on her heels, hoisting a 12-pack of Diet Pepsi up there. The little sweeties saved the day! If they hadn’t been there, I would’ve lost my place in line or suffered the glare of cashiers and customers alike. We need each other.
And I can’t duck out of the bonding opportunities that sometimes seem like a chore, like reading to them at night and being there to deliver the first hug every morning. I have to admit, we’re getting closer. It’s just us girls, Daddy, and we’re doing fine!
Anyway, the situation isn’t permanent. In mid-November Bill’s getting knee surgery that will force him to stay home, off his feet, for a good four weeks. Yay!
My husband. At home. Helpless. Four weeks.
By mid-December I may be ready to buy him a one-way ticket outta town.