My husband recently went away on a boy’s trip to Israel. I’m not sure if you can call it that because he was traveling with people he works for and one can only imagine how much fun that would be. Regardless, he was in the holy land and not at home and bluntly put, it was hell. B often goes away, but this was different. The knowledge that he was enjoying himself as opposed to hard at work, whilst I went into survival mode trying to get by without having a full-blown melt down, was challenging. I know that makes me sounds like a terrible person but that’s what happens when you’re left to care for three kids alone: you turn evil. In my defense this was not the note we started off on. Here’s how it went.
Stage 1: I am SO happy for you!
B works really hard. Morning and night, weekends and weekdays, he constantly puts up with my meanderings as I decide upon the next meaningful chapter in my life: To work or not to work, white shiny cabinets for the kitchen or painted wood, gymnastics or ballet for the girls, and am I ready for Botox? In between that there’s his full-time job. So, when someone offered him a ticket to his homeland how could I object? I would go so far as to say I was genuinely happy for him. It was with excitement that we packed his suitcase together. We planned outfits with new items I had purchased for the trip, and joked about how enjoyable a fresh falafel would be without toddlers dripping hummus all over your pants. I even wrote him one of the nicest plane letters I’ve ever written, wishing him the time of his life and openly stating he truly deserves this well earned break.
Stage 2: This is harder than I imagined.
Perhaps it was the realization that B would take my words to heart and actually make the most of his time, not spend it on Whatsapp talking to me, that made the week ahead suddenly seem unbearable. Time zones aside, the few times B was available to talk, sprawled on the beach sipping cocktails, I was in the midst of bundling three overly emotional children into the car. Gloves, hats and coats seem so overwhelming when experienced alone for the third morning in a row. Then came the post bedtime silence. If putting a toddler to bed whilst holding a baby and trying to do homework with a six-year-old wasn’t painful enough, there was the quiet that awaited thereafter. Who was I going to complain to about the mom that looked at me funny in carpool? Or laugh with me at the cute things the kids had said, or the dumb text I had mistakenly sent the school administrator? Crawling into bed on yet another lonely night after allowing my OCD free reign to check all the doors were locked three times, I was consolidated only by the knowledge that when all this was done, B would please G-d be coming back.
Stage 3: How could you do this to me?!?!
This is the point where things hit rock bottom. That moment the very thought that anyone could ever consider leaving you for a joy trip makes you seethe with contempt: towards who, you’re not too sure. In between the tantrums, spilled milk, tooth brushing, baths, carpools back and forth, swim class, soccer class and errand after endless errand, you manage to find a moment to pick up the phone and try your very best to hold it together. Reminding yourself that your partner on the other side of the world has done no wrong, you attempt to conceal your inherent misery:
B: “How’s everything at home?”
Me: “GREAT.” (muttered through gritted teeth).
B: “We’re heading out to eat now”
Me: “FANTASTIC, enjoy.” (frozen pizza making up the bulk of your diet the past week).
B: “Is everything ok, you sound tired?”
Me: “Yes I’m FINE, just FINE, HAVE LOTS OF FUN.” (Ross-type fine that is).
Stage 4: I vow to never take my husband for granted again.
As the last leg draws to an end, hope returns to the horizon as you realize homecoming is imminent and appreciate that this special person is even a part of your life to begin with. You start to think of the little things B does on a regular basis that assist you to be the mother you are and the content individual that you’ve become. Errands and tasks aside, it’s his company that you’ve missed more than anything. The laughs, the support, sharing in the small moments that make up the bigger picture that has become your collective life together. As the door finally swings open and in walks dad with armfuls of presents, you run to your room, lock the door and start planning that girls trip to Florida for next week.