I am a "single mom" three days a week, and honestly ... I love it.
My husband is in sales. He is wonderful at his job and has grown in his career. Unfortunately, moving up the sales ladder generally means that traveling—a lot.
Earlier this year, I said adios to corporate America and turned to freelance writing to keep me sane while staying at home with my children full-time. It’s a good thing I did—a few months later, my husband’s schedule shifted, and he was required to be out of town Monday morning through late Wednesday night. Every. Single. Week.
I'll admit it. When I first heard about this shift, a wave of mild panic swept over me. Sure, the money made the travel worth it, and he even gained a 4-day weekend every week. But what this meant for me—other than an inflated number in my disposable income category—was that I was going to essentially be a single mom three days out of the week. Gulp.
My husband and I are a pretty good team. After you’ve been with someone for a long time, you’re both able to go through your day in tandem, getting done what needs to get done. You assume that the other person will do certain tasks, either because you’ve both agreed upon who does what, or because you’ve figured out how your partner functions, and know that your man would never go to bed without first starting the dishwasher. Our little domestic dance has worked for us—the house stays relatively clean and our little people have yet to miss a meal.
But with the advent of his new job, the tandem life waltz would be over. I was going to be doing a solo … something the children’s appetites weren’t going to have much sympathy for. With him home and helping out, there were nights when I still didn't get to bed until well after 9 p.m. Remove him from the equation, and I was probably going to have to say goodbye to anything resembling a good night’s sleep.
Then he started the intensified travel schedule, and the damndest thing happened. I actually got more done with him gone.
Maybe you’re chuckling or rolling your eyes, thinking that I’m accusing him of slowing down my pace by being underfoot, but that isn’t it at all. Believe me, it shocked and confused me when I was able to hit the couch guilt-free with a book the second the kids were in bed. Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out:
The domestic waltz I thought we had down pat? Turns out we weren't quite as Fred and Ginger as I thought. Instead, we each assumed the other was going to do something without actually communicating it to them, and then had to backtrack to get the job done. Also, I often functioned at a much slower pace, knowing that my husband was there to back me up.
Now that I’m on my own and know that I have to crank through the day until it’s all done, I’m much more motivated and focused.
The end result is that not only are we surviving on his new schedule—we’re thriving on it. My husband is doing great in his new position, and I’m doing pretty damned well in mine, too. He comes home to a relatively clean house with relatively clean children delighted to see him, and the extra time we have as a family is great for all of us.
I’m still not getting as much sleep as I need, but now that Thursdays and Fridays are date day marathons, it’s for much more romantic reasons than the fact that there are dishes to wash.