I have to give a shout out to all the amazing fathers out there, my husband included, who empower their wives to travel frequently. There is a reason life is set up to have two parents. It’s a tag team operation. If you’re doing it right, parenting is hard work, which is why I have to go on vacation by myself every few years to get a break. Because the only way a Mom really gets a break is if she leaves the city. And God bless my husband, he supports my need to do this on a regular basis.
I remember the first time I left him with the kids for a few days by himself. We only had two then, and they were just babies. I will never forget the look of stoic desperation in his eyes. Being the control freak that I was, I had written out pages and pages of instructions, schedules, emergency contacts, etc. As I went over the lists with him, I could tell that he had serious doubts about his abilities to fulfill his mission. I had serious doubts myself. But my need to get a break was greater than my fear, so I handed him the baby and didn’t look back. I have to say now that it was probably the best parenting move I ever made.
When I came back, the house was still standing and everyone was still alive, if not a little rough around the edges. But the first thing I noticed was that my dear husband had a quiet confidence about him. And the baby was clinging to Daddy like he was the lifeboat, something I had not witnessed before. In my absence, they had all grown closer. They had been the team that had to survive the weekend, come hell or high water. And not only had they survived, they had had fun! There were certain forbidden things you could do when Mom wasn’t around to spoil the fun! Like eat whatever you want and stay up past bedtime to watch the football game. And brushing teeth? Well, that’s just optional. My boys had bonded with Dad in a way that never would have been possible with me around.
From that time forward, my husband and I were in it together 100%. He had been a hands-on Dad from the very beginning, but there was something about knowing that he could totally do it by himself when he had to that gave our whole family a new outlook. I stopped micro-managing every little detail and let him take the lead with the kids more. The boys started going to Dad when they had problems to be solved. Our family was stronger together because we now had the perspective of what it was like to be apart.
Through the years, I have been away from my family quite a bit. There have also been many times when I have been on my own while my husband traveled. It is a good thing to get away for a while to gain insight on your life. It is good to look at your life from afar and realize that as good as it feels to not be responsible for a million things, you are still homesick for the ones you love. And that no matter how far you travel, your heart stayed at home.