Your husband is leaving town for two weeks to go river-rafting down the Grand Canyon with the guys. Do you:
- Support him in doing something he's always wanted to try, but then whine about how hard your life is to all your friends.
- Order in lots of pizza and Elmo videos and figure you'll muddle through somehow.
- Figure that living well is the best revenge and skip town with the kids for a week.
I realize that two weeks without their husband around isn't the toughest thing anyone has ever gone through. For moms with a husband in the Military, two weeks would seem like a snap-of-the finger. In other families one (or both) parents travel frequently for business, and of course countless single moms raise their children without another adult in the home to rely on.
Still, for me, two weeks without my husband's support is a long time. It is the longest he's ever been away from the kids and it is made tougher by the fact that he will be without cell-phone coverage for almost the entire trip. We have been together for so long that I'm not sure I know how to do everything around the house anymore. How does that thermostat work? Who is going to kick the router for me when our network goes down?
Without a doubt the kids are going to miss their dad too. Between the two of us, he's more playful and rambunctious, and the kids count on him to liven things up when I'm tired at the end of the day. E is especially close to his dad, so I know that it will be tough for him not to have him here. Dad is the person he runs to when he gets an "owie" or needs some extra comfort & daddy is the person he counts on to come up with the best projects.
To make matters worse, as a solo-parent I tend to get more practical and less affectionate. Getting through the bedtime routine for example, becomes a gauntlet to be run instead of a time to cuddle and talk about the day. The morning rush becomes more focused than ever.
I fully supported my husband's desire to go on this rafting trip. It's something he has wanted to do for a long time, and it will be years before the children are old enough to join in safely. When his friend proposed the trip as a 40th birthday party celebration, I knew we would figure out a way to make it work.
My challenge for this time was to figure out how to make this time with the kids special instead of a long, tiring ordeal, and I decided that getting out of town for a few days might break-up the my husband's long absence. The time in a new space should give the kids lots to focus on (besides how much they miss daddy) and help me focus on enjoying my time with them instead of our routine. Hopefully returning home will feel special too, and I'll be able to avoid the pizza-video rut or at least stave it off longer than usual.
I rallied the support of our babystitter (Fall quarter hasn't started yet) and my mom for this trip. The kids will love having so many people around, and I will appreciate all the extra support. In some ways, this will be the easiest trip I have taken in a while. I plan to spend the days with the kids (with the exception of an architecture tour that I want to be able to focus on). The babysitter will help me with the plane ride and watch the kids at night while I go out to dinner with my mom. My mom, of course, wants to spend as much time as possible with her grandchildren, so we'll plan some fun activities during the day.
I chose Chicago mostly because I have wanted to visit the city for years, and have never managed to find time to go during one of the "good weather months." I also chose it because my husband isn't particularly interested in going. His absence made it one-step easier to schedule the trip, and gave me an "upside" to having him out of town. There are tons of activities for both kids and adults in Chicago, so my challenge will be to try to select the outings we will most enjoy instead of trying to scare up enough creative ideas to keep the kids happy.
I'll be writing more about this trip over the next few days. Please check back to read about our experiences.Related Links
Traveling with a Nanny or Babysitter
Traveling with Grandparents