Absence makes the heart grow fonder, doesn’t it?
My husband is part time. His job is such that he leaves us for up to six weeks at a time. I can’t say too much because where he is and what he’s doing is ‘classified’…which makes it sound more exciting than it probably is! And so, for six months of the year, or there about, I’m a Single Mother…just the kids and I, yep…me and the kids….for up to six weeks. It sounds horrific, I know. Three kids, that’s a lot of work. But, you know, it’s not so bad. Sure, there are disadvantages, but there are advantages too…when you think about it, maybe it’s the perfect arrangement.
We have been living this way for about six years now so I am used to it and pretty good at adapting to the change from having a full time husband to none at all. Even the kids don’t get too worried about it now. I mean we all miss him (really, we do) and I definitely have my hands full but we have finetuned the routine and it’s just possible, that maybe things run a little more smoothly with only four in the bed.
The Pros and Cons of a Part-time Husband
On the upside…there is seriously less work with the man of the house not in the house. Less washing, less cleaning and a lot less cooking. No one cares if I have breakfast for dinner three nights in a row and I have been known to get my money’s worth out of a Spaghetti Bolognaise. There is no judgement or accountability on budgetary spending… I can spend household cash on new jeans or skin care because who cares if we don’t eat meat for a week? I have total control of the bed, television, IPod and car radio …actually, just total control of my own life. There is usually a (brief) honeymoon period and romantic homecoming with the possibility of dinner at a nice restaurant sans children. I get to spend a lot of time with my kids and there isn’t usually anything a strong gin and tonic can’t fix.
On the not-so-up-side…it does get a bit lonely on a Saturday night staying home drinking tea and watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the twenty fifth time. Even though I have generous and supportive friends who I couldn’t live without, limited child care options means no yoga when I need it most. I get very little ‘me time’. This has a very negative effect on personal grooming resulting in concerns of the hirsute kind…no waxing for six weeks? You get the picture. The dinner-bath-bed routine, every mother’s nemesis must be repeated FORTY TWO TIMES SOLO…surely punishment for sins committed in a previous life (although this is where that gin and tonic comes in handy – who cares about splashing in the bathroom…kids love a tipsy mum). And finally, the expectations that accompany the dinner in a nice restaurant which after six weeks can be like doing it on the first date… embarrassing, even without the personal grooming ‘situation’ (again, employ help of the indispensible gin and tonic).
Special occasions are often missed, birthdays, anniversaries, lost teeth and school concerts and this can hurt. We have had the conversation a thousand times…are we doing what is the best for our family? But the fact is we have a pretty great life. My kids get to have their Dad at home when he’s not away at work and they get to spend some pretty special quality time together. Not many people have conventional working hours these days and so we all just make the best of our individual situation. We make it work. And when we get it right, it’s worth the struggle.