The Sisterhood of the Traveling Husbands

Many modern mothers might enjoy a good rant about spousal domestic ineptitude, but when a husband travels for work, his absence is felt. For him, travel might be tedious and unpleasant, but for a mother staying at home with a houseful of children it can be exhausting. 

With one less adult in the house, family chaos looms closer on the horizon. Life becomes a whirlwind of routines: school, dinner, laundry, sports, homework, more laundry, pack lunches, bath time, bedtime. The same routines, yes, but different without Daddy.

Sometimes, different in a good way.  Family life is streamlined, pared down to essentials. Everyone cleans up when supposed to, brushes teeth without being asked, the spelling test is postponed until next week!

Other times, well.... The family dog inexplicably vomits on the carpet. Someone forgets homework but there’s no time to go get it. A sibling squabble at dinner ends with a plateful of food falling to the floor. Someone loses a tooth and then loses the lost tooth. (Frantic search for lost tooth follows.)  The smoke detector malfunctions at 3 am. And someone always seems to get sick. Any or all of these things can happen in a given week, but why do they so often seem to happen when husbands are away? 

When friend mentions, “John’s travelling all week.” We nod knowingly.  We’ve been there. We understand. We’re part of the sisterhood of the traveling husbands. We can carpool more, offer to host a play date, provide a sympathetic ear, or just have a good laugh about the absurdity of it all. We do what we can to stay connected and supportive, even if there is no set of magical pants for mothers to pass around. 

5 comments:

Kate said...

That is my life to a "T". Husband in Vancouver. Dog vomit wiped up yesterday. 4 more basketball games/practices to shuttle kids to. I resorted to my desperate dinner: fish sticks and french fries. Oh, I did open a can of peas. Hang in there!

Amy said...

Oh, SO true!! I call it sailing solo, and whew, do I respect those (like Kate) who do it often.

Well Read Hostess said...

I will confess, with a sincere hope that my husband doesn't stumble upon this comment, that my life is so much easier in multiple regards when my husband is away. Not that I don't miss him, not that I don't love him, not that I ever in a million years wish that he wasn't around and a part of my life - but just as you say, life is so much more streamlined. I can't even pinpoint why, but it's as though the air has been let out of our life just enough that the pressure is manageable. Which is ironic, because my husband is Mr. Mellow and I am Mrs. er, NOT. Nevertheless, when it's just me and the shorties, we slow down, the house gets cleaned up easier, dishes are done right after dinner, homework gets "managed" without fuss, etc...

sorry to carry on so long about this, but it's a phenomena that fascinates me...especially since my husband is going skiing tonight!

EHP said...

It would probably be dishonest to pretend that all of those calamities happened to me this week. Since this post is sort of hypothetical, my list was a composite - a sort of greatest hits. But it was a hard week, with a traveling husband, nonetheless. Thanks for the support!

Anonymous said...

I only have one kid. One step daughter now 16 living with us full time. Yes it's streamlined when he's travelling because we have come to have our own flow and when he's back it's messes the flow. But it's stressful raising a teen on your own (I am now 31) and doing it for only past 3 yrs (though I have known them for 11 yrs). My family and friends are 4 hours away so I am lonely most of time and Miss my husband dearly. And I am stressed to the max because I hate cooking (cleaning I can do). So I am the parent running around to drive to dance and making sure I eat and she eats (picky eater) and dealing with teen hormones and feeling guilty step mom. Stressed and miss my husband dearly. As we speak he is off to Europe and I am in Canada.

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