Ad Man travels for work. A lot. In fact, he’ll be out of town most of this week. So, I’m sitting here sulking and dreading and wondering if I can get away with feeding the kids take-out for every meal until Saturday. I’m also planning ways I can ensure that I’ll actually wake up when the alarm goes off so I can get Biggie and Smalls on the bus at the crack of dawn and not have to drag them half dressed, each with an energy bar stuffed in her pocket, into the car where we will then sit in two carpool lines at two different campuses. Pulling off that feat with neither child being marked tardy requires a plan of attack timed to the second and seeing that in this scenario I couldn’t even drag my sorry ass out of bed, the chances of me succeeding in such a plan are slim.
I am most emphatically not a morning person. I lived in fear for many years of missing finals or sleeping through the bar exam because my bed was just so damn warm and cozy. One thing Ad Man does well, though, is waking up. No snooze button for him…when he’s up, he’s up. And I am the direct beneficiary of this talent because, day in and day out, he manages to get three cranky ladies out of bed and moving at 6:15 am and for this, I am eternally grateful. Oh, believe me, he bitches about it every single morning, but he gets the job done.
Beyond just missing my own personal alarm clock who won’t take “but I’m so sleeeepy!” for an answer, having a husband who travels a lot can be difficult. In fact, one of the reasons we moved from San Francisco to Atlanta was that I was often left by myself with a newborn baby, who I was up nursing every few hours, in a town where I knew almost no one. Meanwhile, Ad Man was flying blissfully alone to meetings on the east coast where he was put up in posh hotels, sleeping uninterrupted in sheets not stained with breast milk or baby spit-up and going out to restaurants I could only sit home and read about in Food & Wine magazine. Not surprisingly, this arrangement got really old, really quickly. So, we moved to the east coast where we bought a house and Ad Man started collecting more clients in, and traveling more often to, the west coast.
I also have the uncanny ability to come down with any number of illnesses that would normally send me right to bed the moment the wheels of his airplane leave the ground. And, if I somehow manage to avoid getting sick while he’s out of town, you can be sure that both children will start running a fever or be covered in suspicious looking spots so they can’t go to school and we’re all quarantined in the house for the duration of his absence.
I really shouldn’t complain (but I do it so well!). I know a number of women and a few stay-at-home dads who have it far worse than I do. I have friends whose spouses have “commuted” to south Florida and even Detroit from Atlanta. My friend K’s husband is the president of a European company that makes bicycle components so he’s often gone for weeks at a time, occasionally reporting back that he’s been cycling in the Pyrenees, or something terribly stressful like that.
I have to admit, things have gotten easier now that the girls are older. Ad Man has learned that it’s best to be as vague as possible about the details of his trips, which helps too. This was a lesson he learned the hard way, however. Once, when Biggie was about 4 years-old and Smalls was 2, Ad Man felt he just had to post a photo on Facebook taken in his hotel room at The Standard in Los Angeles. (He’s just reminded me that his room was called the “Wow! Suite.” The guy just does not know when to keep his mouth shut for the sake of marital harmony!) What prompted him to post the photo was an approximately 6 ft. long by 4 ft. high sculpture of an actual foot…in his bathroom. Now, just imagine what the rest of his room must have looked like if there was space for a 6 ft. long foot in the bathroom.
I can’t remember what I posted in response or if I called him directly, but I assure you, retribution was swift and painful. Even his guy friends were like, “Dude…what were you thinking posting a photo of your swank hotel room?! Your wife is going to kill you!” Luckily, he (sometimes) learns from his mistakes. Now, half the time I don’t even know what city he’s in. We joke that he could have a whole other family in another city and I’d know nothing about it. Of course, the joke would be on him because he’d be the one with two pissed-off wives and even more children running amok.
I do, occasionally, get to go somewhere by myself for the weekend. For instance, I’ve been to a couple funerals and I try to get together with a group of my friends from law school once a year or so. In those rare instances, as soon as word gets out that Ad Man will be home (alone! gasp!) with the kids for a few days, support pours in from all corners of the globe. It’s usually something like, “Oh you poor dear, why don’t you come to the mountains with us for the weekend where you can stay in our rustic-chic cabin, your kids will be entertained by ours during every waking moment, you’ll have a cold beer in your hand at all times and the women-folk will take care of all the meals?” It’s truly amazing he survives those difficult times.
There are, however, a few benefits to having a husband that travels for work. I mean, who can deny the allure of frequent flier miles? When he’s gone, I go to bed earlier because there’s no one to veg out with in front of the television. And, when I do indulge in some late night TV watching, there’s no one trying to convince me that an America’s Next Top Model marathon is a bad idea. I also have one less mouth to feed and fewer articles of clothing to pick up from the floor next to the clothes hamper.
Of course, Ad Man’s frenzied and unpredictable travel schedule also makes me wonder what type of position I could accept if some fantastic job opportunity fell in my lap. I worked as a producer at a multi-media production company before Biggie was born. It was the job I loved the most and miss to this day, but it also required long nights in the edit bay, weekend film shoots and changes for clients at the last minute. Could we work it out if another opportunity like that arose? I would hope so, but I just don’t know.
We’ve talked about turning our downstairs guest room into a space for an au pair if necessary, but do I really want to be responsible for a teenager living in my house when I already have two kids and a moody, skateboarding husband with a vast collection of hip-hop dolls and breakdance figurines?
These are some of the questions that keep me up at night (along with things like “does it really matter which earbud I put in which ear?”) and I have no idea how or when they’ll be answered. In the meantime, I’ll just be happy if I can get the kids to school on time, make it through homework without strangling one or both of them and manage to feed them items from more than one food group this week. As for me, I’m stocked up on tea, wine and dark chocolate so how bad could the next few days possibly be? Right?