I’m not alone in this.
I’m not the only mom who finds herself home alone with the kids when daddy travels for work.
I’m thankful to be able to hear from others, on how they make it work. Perhaps a “10 ways to make it easier” post would be more helpful, but instead, figure sharing my experience as others had with me may help someone “out there”.
I’m thankful that he gets to travel. It means he has a job, he’s doing what is fulfilling and meaningful, that he gets to see more of this world, and that he is making an impact on this world.
I am exceedingly proud of my husband. He has found his nitch, and thankfully, with a good company. I support him completely.
I’m also thankful that his mom, and frequently his dad too, are able to travel from out-of-state to help with the kids when my schedule greatly conflicts with his absence (and on the rare occasion when my absence conflicts with his work schedule).
I do not know motherhood would be without these trips. He has traveled for work throughout our marriage, including both pregnancies. It is our life, and it works.
Yet, even with all this, trying to stay sane when I have our two small kids with his irregular travel schedule, is difficult.
I’ve noticed a few things.
I find myself zoning out. I’m an introvert, so spending so much time with the kids, kids who constantly need touch and attention and help, can become overwhelming at times. I love snuggling with them, I love doing things with them, but I have to admit that I just can’t always be “on”. Knowing our limitations, we’ve stopped at two kids and I have scheduled weekly time “away” – most of it however, is focused on caring for others. I do my best and they know I love them, yet the fact is I’m not always 110% tuned in.
It is almost easier when he is gone. I’ve figured out my way of relating to the two kids and of how to manage the days. I can accommodate their moods and my moods, anticipating needs and being flexible – even without always knowing I’m doing it. Dad being around adds another level – a level of surprising unpredictability. Surprising unpredictability – something I must reflect on.
And I make compromises.
On difficult days, I treat the kids to fast food. Sure I could make chicken nuggets at home and it really isn’t any less work, but knowing the kids will eat their lunch and they will be happy for at least an hour, makes up for it. I also treat them to “surprises”, which I admit isn’t always the best option and adds to the clutter, but a quick fix. Yet, I prefer a quick fix over avoidable temper tantrums (on both sides) that can not be managed by my temporarily exhausted brain.
I put many of my plans on hold. God gave me an intense drive to learn. Yet, I rarely can take the classes, read the books or go to the study sessions I would like. So much of the world is not friendly towards parents with kids in tow, nor do children like having their parents on the computer or reading when they could be playing. I do my best to balance it, yet regularly scheduled classes or sessions do not work, and only about 20% of the time am I able to make it to one-day or 1/2 day classes that I, my family and my ministry would benefit from. Even denominational meetings I face great push-back when I have to bring my kids along (they are “required” and “encouraged” yet do not accommodate the needs of young families). This isn’t just because my husband travels, but also being a mom of young kids without built in family support. It’s also that my eyes are much bigger than our wallets, but I feel fortunate and blessed that we do have enough that I can take some classes and afford some childcare.
Yet, the travel helps us focus on what is important. Quality time, time together, is not a luxury, but a need. We work hard to communicate, even if we may never do so perfectly. And we are constantly thankful for our blessings.
Completely thrilled about my compromises? No. But completely thrilled that we have a wonderful life? Yes.
Lord, help me to be observant of our life as a family. Help me notice the areas in which I need work, and those moments when Your Grace abounds. Lord, You give us so much, may I continue to find strength in You and remind me that what is not possible today, is possible tomorrow. Amen.