My Extra Set of Hands

My husband travels. I’m not supposed to tell you, I know. Because you might be a stalker. Or you might think I have a vault of valuable silver you can steal when “the man” isn’t home.

Let me save you some trouble: there’s no vault; the most valuable thing I own is the wine I’m drinking; and I’m way too tired, cranky and jiggly to be the object of anyone’s stalking. All that, plus, I might be using a pseudonym so that I can write about my crazed relatives one day and then deny it. But I digress…

My husband travels. Usually it’s just for a couple nights a week. And that is, frankly, fabulous. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – and the couch grow bigger and the messes shrink smaller. A little guilt-free reality TV watching and a little alone time with Facebook or a novel can help any relationship.

BUT. The word is in all caps because it’s a big but. (Warning: I’m about to whine. And if you have a traveling spouse, you’ve probably whined, too, so please commiserate with me now.) But my husband is currently home for less than 13 hours. God love him, he drove all the way home from another state and a huge job to be home with the kids for 3 hours while they went trick-or-treating. In the morning, well before normal humans and possibly even your newborn are awake, he will leave again. For 12 more days. And did I mention he’s already been gone for 10 of the past 12 days? The math is ugly.

Okay, in my brain I get it: I’m thankful. I’m grateful. I’m blessed. I’m more than thankful my husband is employed with a good job – a career, even. I’m deliriously thankful that my mom lives nearby and helps me immensely. And, if your spouse is deployed or deceased or working on an oilrig somewhere, or you have no helpful relatives in close range, you have no sympathy for me. Please click away with my understanding and sincere condolences because I have NO idea how you haven’t been committed. You are a good and strong woman.

I am not-so-much a good and strong woman. The logical, thankful side of me can’t seem to get a message through to the emotional, tired side of me.
I am a woman whose 2-year-old’s first words every morning are “Where’s Daddy,” followed by crying and thrashing on the bed when I reply, “On his trip.” Yes, I did just roll my eyes. Child, I feel bad for you. I do. But if you’re not careful I might thrash and cry along with you on that bed.

I am a woman who no longer has the energy to care how her husband’s day at work went because she’s too bitter about scraping dog poop out of the yard or off dog butts, being the cook and the clean up crew, feeding the dogs and the frogs, volunteering at schools, and everything else motherly under the sun – all without an extra set of hands. And no sign of relief on Saturday or Sunday – or next Saturday and Sunday.

I signed up for an extra set of hands. I believe it was in the wedding vows. Sure, I can do all this stuff on my own. Most of the time, all moms do. But at the end of the day, there’s usually someone there to rub my exhausted shoulders, to take the kids outside for five minutes of peace inside. There’s an extra set of hands for grabbing diaper cream from the other room when I forget it again, for pouring another glass of water – or wine. An extra set of hands to, please for the love of everything holy, read the book “Muddypaws” tonight because I’ve already read it 16 times today. There’s an extra set of hands to heave the dumpster up from the sideyard hill on garbage night. (Actually, I’m fairly certain my husband travels on Tuesdays on purpose to avoid this chore.)

Logically, I am well aware I shouldn’t complain. I have no basis for complaining. I am among the lucky in almost every way. And yet, I really miss my extra set of hands.

Are you the spouse left at home while your significant other travels? What gets you through without harming yourself, the children or the pets? Brooke Bernard needs to know!

Brooke Bernard writes most Wednesdays for http://www.mamasagainstdrama.com.

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