The Sisterhood of the Traveling Spouse

There’s something going around today. I got calls from two different friends ranting and raving about the same situation, one which I myself happen to be struggling with at the moment, too. The issue? Husbands who are gone or unavailable because of their jobs.

Look, I realize things are tough right now. The economy, the real estate market, gas prices, unemployment, blah, blah, blah. People who are lucky enough to have good jobs are working extra-long hours, traveling, doing whatever it takes to keep them. And those of us who rely on our spouse’s paycheck to pay the bills pretty much have to suck it up and deal with whatever his job demands.

But come ON. Being a single parent for a day, 3 days, a week, or more is f&%@$?! HARD. Let’s all just admit that right now. I don’t care if you have one kid, 4 kids, stay home, work part time, full time, have childcare or not. The fact remains that you’re the mom, and if Dad’s not around, you’re the one bearing the bulk of the responsibilities.

Let me take a moment to address some common Mom complaints:

Sometimes I don’t find out until a day or two beforehand that my husband’s going to be away for work. Yes, finding out you’re going solo at the last minute sucks. If it’s because your husband forgot to tell you, he’s an ass. If it’s because his employer scheduled something without giving him more notice, they should relinquish all claims that they are a “family-friendly” company that “promotes work-life balance.” Bull.

My husband goes out 3 or 4 times a week while I’m stuck at home. Because some of these outings are work related, I feel like I can’t complain. OK, a mandatory business dinner is one thing, and a happy hour where the guy pounding beers across the table just happens to work with your husband is another.

BewitchedEveryone’s entitled to blow off some steam – OK, Dads? – but Moms are well within their rights to question whether an event is truly critical to their spouse’s career success, or whether he might be more useful at home, doing baths and keeping Mom from singlehandedly downing an entire bottle of red wine.

Also, Moms? Start planning your own nights out!! Schedule them on weekends if your husband travels during the week. (Even as I write this, know that I had to cancel my own night out tonight because something came up at C.’s work. Boo, hiss! I’ve already rescheduled and carved it in stone on next week’s calendar. His boss can bite me.)

My husband tells me I should get more help. Ah, yes, the “help” suggestion. I take my son to a sitter two mornings a week for 3 hours. That’s when I do my freelance writing, run errands, schedule doctor’s appointments, or wait for the cable guy to show up.

Sure, I could hire the sitter an extra morning when C.’s away, but guess what? I’d still have to prepare 3 meals a day, dress Miles, bathe him, change a bunch of diapers, do the whole bedtime routine, feed and walk the dog, do the dishes, dress (and maybe even bathe) myself, squeeze in some work, and do everything else related to keeping the household running. So unless we’re talking a live-in nanny, housekeeper, personal chef, and dog-walker, the help suggestion isn’t that helpful.

I am so overwhelmed even though I do have some help. If you can take your kids to school, a sitter’s, or a grandparent’s while your spouse is away on business, that’s something. But again, you are the mom. You don’t get to clock out at 5 p.m.

YOU are the one getting up at 3 a.m. because the baby’s crying or the potty-training toddler has to pee. YOU are the one sticking the kid in the carseat and running to the store because you’re out of milk again, or to the drugstore for his ear infection prescription. YOU are the one giving the second bath of the day because your child covered himself from head to toe in melted grape popsicle. So you have every right to feel overwhelmed.

All together now: BEING A MOM IS HARD. And when you’re doing it without Dad for backup, it’s even harder. Let's give ourselves some credit.

This is not meant to slam the Dads. We KNOW you work hard. We KNOW you have no choice when work duties call. We KNOW we could not live the lives we’re living if it weren’t for your jobs. We KNOW you would much rather be at home with your family. (Right??)

This is meant to make all us Moms feel better who are beating ourselves up and bitching at our spouses and fantasizing about keying our husband’s boss’s Porsche. (Or is that just me?) It’s OK to feel this way. You are not alone. A mom’s job is every bit as hard as Dad’s, if not more.

After all, no one’s offering ME coffee and bagels in the conference room every morning.


Dooneybug said...

I just read your announcement. How exciting!!! Congratulations - the second time is going to fly by!

MamaNeena said...

Amen!!! I have covered this topic thoroughly on my blog.

Karen MEG said...

Uh, YEAH!!!

Thanks for posting this. I am in the middle of this right now...with a tight timeline for my own WAHM project. Hubs was away all last week; again today and tomorrow; then again all next week. At least both kids are in school right now, but there are more pickups/drop offs. It's NUTS!

I feel better after reading your post. I know that I am not alone ;)

Nan Patience said...

That was certainly one of the first things I noticed upon getting pregnant, and subsequently through the years----and it surprised me---- just how much of the child care and responsibility for the family unit is mine. Those of us brought up in the 70s and 80s probably had different expectations... Also in America extended families tend to be more fragmented than ever, I think, leaving more mothers to fend for themselves in relative isolation and at the mercy of various conditions.

Mom2Miles said...

Thanks, commenters! You made me feel better. It's a very frustrating predicament. I know my hubby works hard & he does help w/ our son, but SO MUCH of the childcare/housework/grunt work falls on me I just can't deal sometimes!! I know I can't expect a 50/50 division of labor, but some weeks it's like 80/20!!

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