The next batch of questions (taken from my 950th post) all relate to the same topic: How I deal with being a single-parent during the week and how to balance things on the weekends - i.e. time for myself, time for Les to do his own thing, etc. Rather than answer each question individually - since they all sort of go together - I'll just post all of the questions and do a bulk answer at the end.
Rhonda asked: How in the world do you survive without a husband all week long? Doesn't that make you always feel like you deserve a break when he gets back? How do you keep resentment out of the equation, and allow him his own time?
Amanda asked: How do you survive your weeks without your husband? How do you keep your sanity?
Jen asked: What is the most surprising thing you have learned about yourself when having to "single parent it" alone during the week? And just like Rhonda asked...upon the return of your DH, how in the world DO you keep resentment out of the equation and allow him his own time??? (okay that's 2 but I need to know!!)
First of all, I have to start off by saying that I'm not a saint. I do struggle with the fact that my husband is away for so much of the time. A lot of the time I struggle with it silently and just try to put my energy into surviving it. But I do think that I do a very good job with handling it and making sure we get a good balance of everything over the weekends.
One of the things I remind myself of is that this is harder for Les than it is for me. Yes, I may be home with the kids all week long by myself, but he's without the kids (and me) all week long. He works 12-13 hours a day, picks up take-out every night and sits alone in his hotel room for a couple of hours before going to bed and waking up early the next morning to do it all over again. No friends. No home-cooked meals. No company of any kind. No exceptions.
Me, on the other hand...I can still socialize during the week. Nothing's stopping me from having a friend over in the evening. Or taking my kids to my parents' place for supper and the evening. Or even paying a sitter so I can go out and do something. Plus, now with both of my kids in school full-time and me only working 2 days a week - I have plenty of time without the kids where I can do what I want in peace & quiet...shopping, 'coffee' with a friend, or just reading a book at home (which I have yet to do - but I could if I wanted to).
It's still hard for me...parenting them alone for 5 days a week, making meals for just me and 2 kids (that's H-A-R-D), spending most of my evenings sitting on the couch by myself. That's by choice though, the alone part in the evenings. I have plenty of friends closeby that I could phone and ask to come over if I really wanted to. But I get used to the quiet and find it hard to actually reach out. Especially if it's been a rough afternoon/evening with the girls - I just want to crash after they go to bed. But at least I have options during the day and early evenings if I want to get out and do something.
Things would be different if I had a baby or even a toddler to deal with. But with school-aged children it's easier in some ways. Harder in some ways though too, when they keep asking "When is Daddy coming home?" and "Why does he have to be gone all the time?" Those are hard times.
When it comes to weekends, it has been said to me numerous times that people are impressed when I 'allow' Les to go out with friends and do things out of the house and I'm 'stuck' at home yet again with the kids. Again, I need to remind myself that during the week he gets no interaction with friends. He's all by himself. And as much as he needs to spend time with his family when he's home - he also needs time to nurture his friendships. Like I said - I get chances during the week to get together with friends; he doesn't. Typically he tries to only go out shortly before the kids go to bed so he's not missing out on a lot of time with them, but sometimes he's gone more - like last weekend when he went hunting.
The thing that helps though is that when he's home - he's really home. He's present. He spends time with his kids - jumping on the trampoline, playing Wii with them, going on bike rides (and in the winter playing with them out in the snow, etc.).
Another part of it, to be honest, is that to go from him being gone all week to having him home all weekend can be a bit of an adjustment. It might sound bad, but sometimes on the weekend I'm just not used to constant company, so having him head out for a couple of hours one evening isn't always a bad thing. He is also very good with encouraging me to go out on weekends too. We just have to sort of co-ordinate it. For example, in one weekend he wouldn't go out one night and me the next...at least not typically. It is important for just the two of us to spend time together too. Last weekend he was hunting and this weekend I'm going out on Saturday evening. Next weekend we have a family outing with just my parents and siblings - no kids - so that's a way for us to spend time together but without the kids.
It's all about compromise. I need to understand the need for him to get out and socialize with his friends, and at the same time, he realizes the importance for me to get my own escape on the weekends. With both of us willing to compromise with the other - it's been working for us.
That's not to say that it's by any means an ideal situation. But over the last 3 years we have been learning how to make it work as best as we can.
Next up: My fears - specifically my fear of flying. Great questions everybody! Stay tuned for more of the answers...