My husband travels for work...a lot. In fact, as I write this we are in the middle of one of his busiest travel months of the year. He is/will be travelling 4 weeks during the month of March. So many times I've found myself wondering if I'm the only wife who struggles with the strain that work travel puts on a family. And so many times I've found myself feeling overwhelmed with all the resentment I have about it.
After our first baby was born, he took his first 'travel job' and I quit my teaching job to become a full-time mom. Now it's 8 years (and two more kids) later. So you'd think by now we'd have it down, right? That we would have adjusted. But the truth is, it's still a struggle. Perhaps now more than ever. Honestly, there are lots of times when I couldn't even tell you which city he's in or who he's traveling with (a fact that I'm not proud of, by the way.) In our marriage we've had to maneuver carefully around this issue. He used to tell me all the wonderful things he was seeing and doing on his trips...and I got mad. So then he stopped telling me all the things he was seeing and doing on his trips...and I got mad. Talk about your catch 22's.
Every time he gets his suitcase out for another trip (especially a long one) I start feeling the resentment bubbling up inside. I know how it goes while I'm home alone with our 3 kids. While I'm happy just to use the bathroom without an audience, he has hours of uninterrupted plane time to read whichever book he wants or to take a nap in peace. While I'm scrambling to clean up one room as the kids are demolishing two others, he's staying where housekeeping will come every day to make his bed and clean the bathroom for him. While I'm making chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for the 7 millionth time, he's going out to fancy restaurants for 'business dinners.' While I'm tackling potty training and tantrums, he get's to attend cocktail receptions or have a few beers with the guys. And while I'm giving baths and helping with homework, he's out seeing new places and meeting new people. When he's gone he gets to do the things I fantasize about. I've spent my fair share of valentines days and anniversaries alone. And don't even get me started about THIS time-tested theory: If the kids are going to get sick or the furnace is going to go out, it will always happen while my husband is out of town.
Now don't get me wrong, I know traveling for work isn't exactly vacation travel. Last week he got home from one trip at 2 am and was out the door to the office by 7 the next morning. I know it's exhausting for him. I know he hates missing the kids' activites. I know there are times he'd rather be home with us eating my crappy cooking instead of eating at fancy restaurants....ok, so maybe that last one was a stretch. But the point is, I realize it's not always easy for him either. And I realize he does it all for us.
I'm proud of how hard my husband works and how successful he's been. I am appreciative beyond words that he took his current job knowing it would mean relocating back to my hometown so we could be closer to my family. My support system! It has made a tremendous difference for my mental health. (In other words, at least I no longer feel like bolting out the door and never coming back every time there's a busy travel month like this one.)
Maybe my resentment comes from knowing that he's out pursuing his career dreams, and I've chosen to give my career up for the time being. Maybe it comes from feeling like a single mom raising 3 kids sometimes. Maybe it comes from knowing that whatever happens while he's gone will instantly become mine to deal with, no questions asked. One thing I know for sure? The resentment I'm feeling this very second stems from the fact that he just called me...from LAS VEGAS...to tell me about what a nice view he has from his hotel window. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.