I like to think I came up with that term, but I suppose it’s likely someone said it before me. At any rate, I use it to describe a myriad of experiences in the past 19 years of life. Vacation planning, Thanksgiving travel a week after gall bladder surgery (Chris is a terrible patient, I’m an even terribler nurse), surprise foster puppies, social media oversharing, and living with two teenagers are recent examples to come to mind.
I said terribler nurse because I like it better than worse nurse. Just thought I’d share to give you a little insight into my magical process of word choice. I’m not a writer, but I play one on tv.
The lion’s share of our marriage strengthening, though, would be the product of Chris’ travel schedule.
In case I haven’t mentioned it (yeah right) or you just forgot, my husband travels for work. A lot. Generally at least 12 weeks a year. Which means he’s gone about 25% of the time, the majority of that being half-way around the world.
It hasn’t always been so. Only for the past four or five years has this rigorous travel schedule been our reality. Still, you’d think in that amount of time we’d have gotten this aspect of our lives down to a science.
You’d think wrong.
What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate
Despite the amazing technology we have available, the time zone changes typically mean he doesn’t talk to the kids much when he’s gone. And even though he and I generally talk or at least text on a daily basis, there are invariably bits of information that fall through the cracks. And, occasionally, entire conversations we’ve had have been completely forgotten by one or the other of us.
We were not exactly setting the gold standard of marital communication before all this work travel started. I’d have put us more at the level of a tin foil standard. Now that he travels? I’m going to go with paper towel. Some days a wet paper towel.
We’ll Have the Hap, Happ, Happiest Homecoming since Bing Crosby danced with Danny Fucking Kaye…
What does it look like when a traveling peddler spouse/parent from a normal family returns home after a business trip? I have no idea, but I always have some sort of bullshit Norman Rockwellian vision about how great it’s going to be to have the four of us under the same roof and in the same time zone again:
We’re all just so damn happy to be together again. We all sit down to a delicious and nutritious family dinner lovingly prepared by yours truly, or maybe go sit down at a restaurant. We take turns talking about our highs and lows over the past seven to ten days. The kids talk about how school’s going, Chris gives us details on the highlights of his trip. After everyone helps with cleaning up the dinner dishes, we gather round the fireplace and read poetry together. Chris is seamlessly reintegrated into the established (tho somewhat dysfunctional) equilibrium the kids and I have established in his absence.
And we poop rainbows and ride unicorns to our (made, of course) beds and recite goodnight prayers of gratitude to be part of such a high functioning family.
It’s a lovely vision, zero percent of which reflects our reality.
Sofa King Tired (say it real fast to get my drift)
Chris has developed some mad skills when it comes to going from time zone to time zone, but is, understandably, tired when he gets home. And he works really, really, really hard to jump right back into parenting; but in reality, a seven day trip is like a ten day trip; because jet lag renders him dead to the world by 6pm (which, let’s face it, is when all the REAL fun of parenting teens comes into play) for at least a couple of days after his return. And, even if he isn’t dead to the world, he can be an eency teency bit on the highly irritable side. I’m not saying this to be mean. Dude borders on super human, but ultimately falls into the category of normal human.
I also tend to be a bit tired when he returns home. Or maybe a better term would be DONE. Sofa King Done. It shouldn’t exactly be so. I don’t have a job, and the kids are fairly self-sufficient; but solo parenting takes it out of me nonetheless. Being in charge of each and every appointment (dental and orthodontic on the most recent trip), refereeing their 752 arguments a day, driving to soccer practice (and the soccer scrimmage and a training session), making the 20 minute drive to pick up the skis so thing #2 would be ready to start practice (and then having to make it again later in the day because they forgot to send her poles with me), arranging for her ride to skiing so I could get thing #1 to basketball, and blah, blah, blah, blahbbity fricking blah. Not to mention the endless negotiation which seems to be part of living with teenagers:
If you go to vespers on Wednesday evening, you don’t have to go to church on Sunday (which may or may not have been my way of simply not having to prod their lazy asses out of the house on Sunday morning).
I’ll take you to Starbucks before school tomorrow if you’ll stop talking to me.
We can have donuts for dinner if you’ll just put away your damn clothes like I’ve asked you to 100 times.
Why the Hell am I Writing About This?
I don’t really know. Certainly not because I EVER envisioned writing two consecutive posts about marriage. And certainly not because I think any of these struggles are completely unique to our family life.
I guess because the blog’s called TruthHole. And my personal truth is that life can be beautiful, fulfilling, soul-crushing, exhausting, and perfect. All at the same time. I admittedly need to do a better job of focusing on the beautiful and fulfilling, but it’s ok to acknowledge the soul-crushing and exhausting parts. Truth.