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Monday, January 19, 2009

Then and Now, the Traveling Husband/Father

My husband works at a high-tech startup, less than 50 people are employed at his company. His job requires that he travel a great deal to meet with partners and vendors, most of whom seem to be on the east coast (we live on the west coast). It seems that almost every week he's traveling, which puts some strain on our life at home. In the 18 years that we've been married, and the 4 years before that, every other job he had required a great deal of travel. I worked full time up until 2007. When you combine his travel with my job plus 3 children you have the formula for an emotional roller coaster.

Earlier in our marriage, when we had three children under six years of age, it was like a pressure cooker in our house. I lived a life that was denoted by punctuation marks of all kinds: Traveling husband! Diapers? Work. Daycare, elementary school. Runny noses, carpooling, gymnastics. Bosses, deadlines. Bills, Money. What? Stop! No. Yes!

It is refreshing how vastly different things are now. Not working full time and fast forward a decade to children who are older and less dependant has made an enormous difference. I'm able to have a sane conversation when my husband calls from his business trip rather than voice my frustration at him for not being home to help take care of the kids and the carpooling. What is different is we do have the stress of a single-income family, but that does not seem to shake our formula for a happier, more harmonious homelife.

I manage all of the bills, so I know what comes in and what goes out. Some months are a bit tenuous when you have a husband in sales and commissions that come at the end of the quarter. I have to manage our finances carefully. But I have to say that our family, our marriage and being a parent are all so fulfilling right now. Ten years ago, there were times when I thought to myself "That's It! I'm not going to take it anymore!" But having been married before, I didn't want divorce to be an option. Perservering through those tough times in our marriage make these times so much sweeter and rewarding. I'm grateful for the little things, like being home to help my children with their homework, cooking dinner every night, and talking to my husband before his business meeting the next morning. Before I felt strapped by babies, work and bills. I used to tell my husband that the family was on a carousel, not a roller coaster. When he left for a business trip, our carousel would keep on going round-and-round and he'd have to be able to jump back on and not miss a beat upon his return. He'd have to be in synch with the family or my level of stress would sky rocket. When we both worked we ate out a lot more. Our life seemed harried and frenetic. Now we prefer to stay home and cook our meals. We play games with the kids and laugh a lot more. Two of my daughters and I have even taken up knitting and enjoy doing that together.

I think now, it is my husband who is missing his time at home. I used to grumble and felt he actually loved to travel when the kids were young just to have a good night's sleep and to read a novel on the airplane. But he misses us all and tells me that all the time. So things are different.

I'm glad I stuck around to see this difference. And most of all, I'm glad my husband knows how to get back on our carousel when he comes back home.

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