Many nights, I wake up to reach for my husband in the middle of the night, and instead there is only his pillow beside me. For many women, they would love the break from the snoring or the enjoyment of having the entire bed to themselves. Instead, I dread when my best friend is gone for work. It is like a piece of me is missing. I want to curl up in a ball and just wait for him to get back home to complete me again. Instead, I have to keep going because I have three little people who count on me to make breakfast or to play board games. I knew exactly what I was getting into years ago when we met. At the time it didn't seem like it was a big deal, I figured it was a small price to pay for such an amazing guy. Then, reality hits.
When he leaves, it is up to me to be everything to everyone. It is no small feat, I have some pretty big shoes to fill. I never realize how much my husband actually does until he isn't here. When you start to feel unappreciated, or you think your family doesn't realize how much you do, just take a long trip. It sinks in pretty quick, at least for your spouse. I'm not saying they will be happy about you leaving, but in the back of their mind, they will know that they cannot possibly do it without you.
For me, each time my husband leaves, I step up to bat and I feel like I fail miserably. I lie awake at night cowering over every noise I hear. I lose my patience with the kids, regularly. I have no idea what to do when the garbage disposal makes that weird noise or the youngest kiddo starts crying because he misses daddy.I fail because I just want to cry too, but I don't. I act as the mom and dad, trying to balance it as best as I can. I know I fall short. I keep trudging along until daddy comes home, and we greet him with hugs and smiles and I get a day (or four) off.
It is always harder to be the one left behind. There are times that I grow resentful, it is difficult not to. While the husband is sitting in restaurants drinking a glass of wine, I am battling through math homework while cuddling the youngest and assuring him daddy will return at some point. He is in a lush hotel room, and I am sharing our bed with a child who is comfortably sleeping on my back while I am hanging onto the side of the bed for dear life. I realize that the travel is not a personal choice, but the way we make a living, it is how I am able to stay at home with my children. So, on good days I love his job. On the bad days, I hate it with a passion I can't describe. The bad days don't come often, but when they do, it is hard. They are filled with guilt, anger, and more tears than anyone should ever cry. It is silly that something like a job should make someone so emotional, but it happens. Especially when you see your children sad over your spouse not being there to kiss them goodnight or them missing dinnertime for the third day in a row. It's hard to not get frustrated when the children act out because they are just as sad as I am, but they cannot express such big feelings. When I try to talk to them and put on a brave face, my heart is breaking inside. We talk to the husband as much as we can, exchange photos, but nothing takes the place of having him here. The youngest gets so sad that he doesn't want to look at the hubby's pictures or talk via FaceTime. Seeing his image makes him too sad, it is just too much for his three year old comprehension.
Trust me, I know I am lucky. There are so many families in much more difficult positions than I am in. I know that I only have three kiddos to manage, one who is the biggest help that you can ever imagine. My oldest steps up most days, I have no idea what I would do without him. There are the single parent families, military families, families just like mine whose spouse travels so much more, and I know I am being whiny. For us though, every time my husband leaves, it seems like our world comes to a halt. It isn't something I can fix for my children, no matter how much I want to. For me, I can't stop the overwhelming loneliness I feel. It isn't a feeling I am used to, I have never been reliant on anyone or anything.
I am have never been so reliant on someone's existence for my own happiness. At the same time, it makes me happy and secure in my relationship. I know I can trust him because he feels the same about me. I am sure that in families like ours, trust can be an issue. It is easy for jealousy to rear its ugly head when miles keep you apart. For us, we don't keep secrets, we talk, text or email as much as we can, we talk about our days, and the homecoming is always pretty fun. Still, once in a while it can happen, and when it does we quash it pretty quick. Those sorts of feelings can damage a relationship beyond repair if left unspoken.
There are only twenty some years until retirement, not that I am counting. I am pretty sure it won't get easier since I don't plan on loving him any less. Until then, the children and I have our "daddy is away" routine. We make the best of it, and I do what I can to keep everyone happy and alive. I may not be able to fix everything that breaks in the house, I will always be scared of the things that go bump in the night, and I definitely cannot stop the tears when the kids are sad, but I always make sure they are loved, enough for both my husband and I.
©2016 Tre Harrington, as first published on Nonperfect Parenitng