“By the way, darling, I’m going to Argentina tomorrow.”
He drops the bombshell on his way out, ensuring he’s put the M25 safely between us before I fully clock the impact his latest business trip will have on my life.
By the time my husband settles in front of his computer with a coffee and I’m halfway through my second load of washing, I’m seething, resentment oozing from my pores like sweat during a hot yoga class.
A single mum
Face it, my inner voice says cheerfully, stoking the internal flame of disgruntlement: “You’re practically a SINGLE mum.”
It’s got nothing to do with being pathetic or jealous, you understand. (But Argentina? Really, why can’t they send him to Finland or Manchester for God’s sake?)
Normally, when he comes home from the office I can take a well-deserved break, handing over the baton of sibling warfare arbitration and toddler taming, while they jubilate over daddy’s daily return from work. (Even when I went away once for a ladies’ weekend did I not qualify for that kind of reception, but that’s a blog post for another day.)
No respite, no Zen
When he’s travelling, there’s no handover, no respite. No time to work, no time to play, no me-time, no yoga, no Zen…
I become Godmother, Mother Theresa: the omnipotent fulfiller of every physical and emotional need three children aged between four and 11 could possibly have over a period of five days. And the need can be considerable, particularly as at least one of them usually comes down with the Norovirus in this time.
Of course my husband knows to choose the grimmest backdrops for our Skype conversations when he’s away and there’s a lot of mournful shaking of the head, bemoaning the ‘bad food’, ‘terrible company’ and ‘total exhaustion’ delivered with an expression befitting a funeral service.
I think he understands I might just change the locks, if I spotted any sign of a stunning sunset, endless sandy beach or Latino woman with killer calves in the background.
5 ways of keeping resentment in check
As you can tell, I don’t like it when my husband travels.
But over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies to keep the resentment under control, which I’ll happily share with you:
- Babysitter: I refuse to miss a yoga class or book club meeting: I pay a babysitter. It keeps me sane, which helps everyone.
- I do everything I would do if my husband were around – if I’m invited to a dance, I go alone. If his trip coincides with the school holidays, we go on holiday without him.
- We go out for a meal (and a few glasses of Chardonnay –for me) or get take-aways at least once, so I get a break from cooking and washing up.
- We watch films my husband won’t enjoy, play board games he doesn’t like and listen to music he hates.
- I have learned to appreciate my own company again. After the children had gone to bed – I read my book for as long as I want without having to endure long conversations about who’s backstabbing who in his workplace or explain why I need more chocolate or another glass of wine.
I’m not quite at the stage where I look forward to his next trip, but I’m beginning to see some positives in the situation.
And that stops me obsessing about him sipping bubbly in business class or tangoing the night away with a rose between his teeth.
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