No one told me there'd be days I'd be rage-filled and thinking about not being married.
The night before I'm supposed to catch a flight to New York for my dad's 50th birthday party, my five-year-old daughter is throwing up. We play musical beds for much of the night, switching to a clean bed each time she vomits.
At 3 AM I email my husband, who is away on business. I don't want to wake him so I write:
Lila is throwing up exorcist style. FML. Keeping her home from school. I don’t want to leave a puking kid with the babysitter. What time r u landing tomorrow? If I have to change my flight LMK ASAP — I can take the last one out.
We live in Atlanta with one of the largest airports in the world. Sure, I could change my flight, that's not a huge deal logistically, I'd still make it in time for the party. But that $500 change flight fee? Ouch... that was not something I was not looking forward to. Why must he make things so difficult? And so damn expensive.
I check my email as we wake up at 8:30 the next morning. No response. I check my missed calls and texts. Nothing.
I text my husband.
“Did u get my email bout Lila being sick? We need plan B. Call me!!!”
I never make my husband feel bad about his 85 percent travel schedule because we like that he travels. His constant travel saves us from the daily drudgery and routine that many married modern couples bemoan. I don't have to argue about who's going to take out the trash, do the dishes, or make the kids lunches because there's only one person to do that: me.
My husband and I have strong identities outside of our roles as spouses and parents. We both work, I'm involved in volunteerism and activism, we both have hobbies, friends, and obligations to our extended families. There is a common thread running between us, but we're not tethered and intertwined to one another.
The art of being apart is our preferred method of being together in a marriage. But right now, the art of being apart is feeling really sh*tty and I want to strangle him.
My husband is unreachable and not responding. I oscillate between being genuinely worried that something awful has happened to him, and full-on rage.
I never ask anything of him. Ever. I always just handle my business and keep on stepping. I don't rely on him because, frankly, it's just easier not to. It's more efficient that way. I asked him months ago if the timing for my dad's big birthday party was OK and he said, "Go ahead and book it. We might need a sitter in case I get delayed, but it's cool."
We had it all planned out: Google invitations, alerts, alarms and all. We just never planned on our kid getting full on puke-sick.
My plane takes off in mere hours. I'm supposed to be at my dad's big five-oh in less than 24 hours. I still have no idea where my husband is or when he'll be home. I'm annoyed and frustrated that I counted on him in the first place. If I wasn't married, I could just rely on myself.
It's moments like these that I start fantasizing about what single life looks like. I knew there'd be days where I'd be annoyed with my husband, but no one told me there'd be days I'd be rage-filled and thinking about not being married. No one makes that kind of candid wedding toast at your reception.
I picture my small apartment in New York City with my girls. Me as a single mom, writing in the Sex and the City-esque way Carrie Bradshaw did. I'd write memoirs all day (because let's face it, I'd have to sell my soul to make it as a single mom in NYC).
Ideally, me and my husband would live in the same city, just different living spaces. At the end of the day, the only people I'd have to be concerned with are me and my two daughters. I wouldn't be riddled with guilt over not being the proper wife. I wouldn't have to be "on" or "perform" for another being. I wouldn't have to coordinate my comings and goings constantly.
I call him at 1:45 PM. No answer. I text, "What the f*ck?" Now, I feel like a psycho stalker.
I seethe and brew over my husband's lack of consideration minute by minute. The only positive is that the color is returning to my little one's face and she's starting to eat again. I take comfort in her slow recovery, but the texts and phone calls from my sister and mother are pouring in, unnerving me.
Am I still picking you up from the airport 2nite? What’s ur flight #?
Are you still going to be able to help set up for the party?
I start to feel slightly panicked. I text the sitter and ask if she can come.
"Lila is still sick, but she hasn't puked in 24 hours, r u OK with still coming? I know it’s a lot to ask."
"Yes, no worries."
"I honestly don’t know when or if my husband will be coming home. I won't leave unless I hear from him. See u @ 6 PM."
The sitter arrives and I lug my packed suitcase down the stairs. Each stair, the suitcase goes thud, thud, thud. I place it in front of the door — wishful thinking probably. I sit down at the dining room table with the sitter and say, "Here’s the deal: my husband is supposed to be here by now. I haven't reached him yet, so I don't know if he’s actually coming. I won't leave unless I hear from him."
A knock at the door. It's my husband who is rummaging in his laptop bag for house keys he doesn't have (he left them on his nightstand upstairs last week by mistake... again). I wonder what he would've done without keys had I not been home. I try to conceal how pissed I am in front of the sitter, she doesn't need to see me go ham on my husband.
"All day I’ve been trying to reach you. Do you know how frustrating it is to not have a plan?"
I pay the sitter for three hours even though she was there for 15 minutes and send her on her way.
"The sitter had to drive all the way here to NOT work. We don't all bow down to you and your schedule. Do you think I'd be comfortable leaving my sick kid with a babysitter?! I could've changed my flight, but I had no way of knowing. What if there was an emergency?!"
"I'm so sorry, but my phone died this afternoon. I think something's wrong with it."
"You were at the airport, there are pay phones!"
"I didn't want to waste time. I knew we’d be cutting it close."
Absence had made the heart grow incredibly frustrated. Our art of apart was falling apart and I was pissed.
I shook my head and got in my Uber. He begged me to make up with him before I got on the plane. I'm not the type that believes you can't go to bed angry or get on a plane angry. You absolutely can, and his attempts to prematurely jolly me up only made me more annoyed.
On the hour-long ride to the airport, my Manhattan apartment is still in my mind. It's not fancy, because truthfully if I was divorced I couldn't afford a nice one. But I'd just pay my inflated rent and for my own mistakes, instead of someone else’s, and be blissfully happy. And single. That’s how it plays out in my head anyway when I wish I was single.
I stay because he’s my person. My husband makes me laugh, we dance to the same music, we get each other, and he doesn’t care that I’m not this quaint and doting wife.
I text him the morning after my dad's party.
"Bout to get on my plane, holler."
He texts back, "You’re not leaving me?" (happy emoji face)
"Ha, not today."