My husband travels. Not in the fun tropical, relaxing way.
In a way that affects our family. I am not talking a couple days here and there… I am talking FULL TIME. Sometimes he will leave on a Sunday evening and come home late Thursday. Sometimes he will leave before sunrise on Monday and come home after dark on Friday. But no matter his flight times, he is gone each and every week.
I miss him so much and I know he misses me, but the hardest part of his travel is not us missing each other, it is co-parenting, long distance. When we got pregnant, he had a different job and was home every night. We had a nice little routine. When our son was born, he was still home every night and our little routine continued.
Then this job and BAM! One day he went from being home, tucking our son into bed every night, to being home only on the weekends.
He took this job over a year ago with the knowledge he would be traveling full time and we knew this would impact our family, but I grew up with a father who traveled – sometimes for 6 weeks at a time – and I feel I turned out okay! Ha! I mean, no one is perfect, but I would consider myself a fairly adjusted person, so I was confident that my husbands travel wouldn’t impact our family to the point of destruction. And it has not. And for the first several months we all lived in a euphoric idea that we would be “just fine.”
Then one day it became clear we were not on the same page… in life and certainly not in our parenting. We were not “just fine.”
In hindsight, we should have seen this coming. I mean why in the world did we think we would be immune to the effects of consistent and sustained travel? Sure, we did the family weekends and we set a schedule for daily Facetime calls, but no matter what our “plan” for co-parenting was, it became very clear we were failing, miserably. I would try my best to fill him in on the latest and greatest with our son and I would commit to involving him in parenting decisions but then #lifehappens and I would forget, or he would be in a meeting or on the airplane. By the time the weekend rolled around, my husband had no idea what had been going on, yet I am ready to check out and have him take over. It was a vicious cycle of lack of information, weekends spent over parenting, new commitments for a better week, breaking commitments mid-week, and so on and so forth.
It is hard.
Hard to take the time to describe, in detail, everything our son did that day. Hard to co-parent when your partner is gone 80% of the time. I get in a routine and groove and I have learned to be dependent on myself. I learned to turn inward instead of to him, but at the center of all of this is OUR SON. And while I have my schedule and my husband has his… our son just has US. So it was time for us to come together.
We can continue to TRY or we can ACT.
As we continue to navigate this adventure, knowing his travel is not subsiding, we are reminded that our common denominator is not the travel but OUR SON.
We are working to come together and keeping D at the center of our thoughts and actions. We are working (and learning) on how to effectively communicate when each of us are tired, stressed and busy with separate lives. We are learning to combine our lives, despite the distance. I never thought I would be in a long distance, co-parenting relationship with my husband, but what I thought doesn’t matter. This is our reality. The future matters. Only I can shape that and, so, each day I shape it as best I can… as a co-parent in a long distance relationship.