Missing Daddy: Lessons Learned with a Traveling Spouse

My husband’s work involves lots of travel. He was working across the country for two months of my pregnancy with our first child. My first day back from maternity leave with my second child was marked by his two-week long departure. If he wouldn’t have made some last minute changes in his travels plans, he would have been absent for the birth of our third.

There are many emotions that go along with flying solo. For both of us. I miss him before he even leaves. Through all these separations, our family becomes stronger. I have learned a lot throughout the days and weeks where my kids rely solely on me.

Missing Daddy: Lessons Learned with a Traveling Spouse

The grass isn’t always greener.

While throwing together a bland dinner of buttered noodles and toast, I like to ask my husband what he is eating. I fantasize about his kid-free, five course meals. What I do have to realize is that he may be eating by himself. He might be looking at pictures of the kids on his phone, wishing he were listening to stories about our day. He once even spent Easter alone at a Cracker Barrel. I dream about what it would be like to sleep in a fancy hotel with no kids to wake me up throughout the night. I don’t think I have had a full night of sleep in seven plus years. What I have to realize is that my husband hits the hay after working on his feet for 12 hours, while still trying to overcome jet lag. Our days are very different, but equally exhausting. We long for different things, but ultimately the same: each other’s company.

It’s ok to ask for help.

I rely on family, friends, and co-workers to step in and carry me through a long week of mommin’ solo. Sometimes, all I need is someone to vent to. The grocery delivery guy knows my cat’s name and that my kids like stickers. Pizza delivery and drive-thru windows are ok for a night away from the stove. I even turn to the television by requesting, “X-Box, go to Netflix.”

Keep the kids involved.

We have a map we made for pushpins. The kids keep track of all the places he travels, so they gain a geography lesson and ease their anxiety. We rely on technology to keep in touch. Even if it is a quick three minute Face-Time session, it gives the kids a chance to stay connected with him. They also love to SnapChat or text enough emojis to create a book. We like to tuck pictures or notes into his carry on or put signs up on the garage door for his return. They can also count on Daddy to bring home a trinket or two. This way they know he was thinking of them and they can have a little piece of the world outside our daily grind.

Missing Daddy: Lessons Learned with a Traveling Spouse

Never assume that your plate is completely full.

There’s always room for more. I sometimes reflect on all things big and small weighing me down throughout the day. I think there is no possible way I can take on anymore. Of course, there will always be a curveball: a sick kid, a school project, or something breaks down. I have had to learn to roll with it, because things need to get tackled no matter what. Always be prepared for more.

Find the beauty in each day.

Sometimes while my husband is away, I feel like I turn into Momzilla. I take our routines very seriously and do my best to keep up with discipline where it is needed. I have to take on many roles. When I reflect on that strict behavior I have had to maintain all day, I sometimes see an ugly person I do not want to be. At the end of the day I judge my parenting. Did I play with them enough? Did I teach them something of value? Was I able to give enough of myself to each of my kids? I have learned to stop hating on myself so much and look around. I see my kids on the floor laughing, playing together. Hanging on to these sweet moments gets me through the chaos.

You are stronger than you think.

My friends tell me that they don’t know how I do it. I have learned to take it day-by-day, or even hour-by-hour. There are days when I feel the weight of it all. It seems impossible to even get out of the house in the morning, but there are nights when I get all three kids fed, bathed, and asleep by 8:00. In those moments of exhaustion but triumph I feel like I can handle anything thrown at me. When I look back on a long stint with my husband gone, I want to shout out a hoorah or raise a bicep in a we-can-do-it pose.

For all you mothers doing it all by yourself 100% of the time, or while your other half is away, I am sending you a giant mommy hug. I see your strength and so does your child. We can do it!

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