Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Traveling Spouse

Scott has been working in a new role (still for the same company) since the start of this year. His new job is requiring a LOT of travel. In fact, I think he's only been in the UK for a two full weeks since the first week in January. It is the kind of travel that has allowed him to nearly reach gold status on TWO airline carriers within the first quarter of the year, and he is almost gaining status on a third carrier. I am not quite sure if those are status achievements he should be boasting about or not!
It's been an adjustment for all of us, most especially for me since during that time I have gone back to work and am trying to balance the work/mom roles while not having the daily support from my husband in a physical sense to pitch in with childcare and/or daily life tasks.

I am learning my way as a single parent during the week and dare I even say at this point now, nearly a full 3 months into it, I can say it is sometimes easier to manage certain things when Scott is away? Not major things but there are certain things that are easier - the house stays cleaner, our bed is always made, I don't have to cook full dinners every night, Crosby knows our routine and what to expect, I can sleep in the middle of the bed, and I can watch whatever I choose at night on the tv! However, these small feats are not out-weighed by the downside of having Scott gone all the time lately. I find that although the house may be clean and I have time alone at night, I find that I am doing this all alone - and I am just purely exhausted by the end of each week when Scott comes home for one or two days before the car service comes to collect him bright and early on Monday morning for his next week of work travel.

When Scott took this new job, we both knew there would be some travel involved. I am just not sure either of us thought there would be this much travel involved - and I know neither of us knew what the situation would be like with me back at work on top of it. This past weekend was a perfect example of the compression felt by both of us, by having one spouse who is not around during the week. Scott was in the office on Friday here in the UK and intended to scoot out of the office a bit early so he could catch Crosby and spend some time with us since he was due to leave early on Sunday morning. As responsibilities go, there was too much work to do in the office and he needed to finish things before leaving town so leaving work early on Friday never happened and his arrival home was after Crosby went to sleep and was even later than expected for dinner.

So, Saturday we raced around town trying to run a few errands - Scott wanted to get a gym workout in, he needed a haircut, etc. I wanted to just have a short break myself since I had been on my own for the whole week prior with Crosby, and that never really happened because Scott had priority on his to do list since he was going to be out of the country the next day. I also wanted some quality family together, knowing that we were only going to have this one day to be together, just the three of us again for a while. Too many things to make happen in a short period of time, of course sandwiched in between Crosby's naps and her meals.

There is a part to all of this traveling and long working hours that I have come to expect - most especially as part of the expat assignment - but there is a part of it that I did not expect and that is the difficulty of having good conversations with my spouse while he travels. Crosby & I can really manage fairly well on our own, although it is tiring. What I miss is the part of the night when even if Scott is home (very) late from work, we have a good 15 minute (minimally) catch up on our days and we have a partner with which to decompress. With Scott's international travel schedule, it has been difficult to get a good conversation in on the phone. His free time seems to come right as his work meetings are wrapping up, just before the dinners start, which is the time when Crosby is at her crabbiest and needs the most attention from me at this point in my day - so a focused call is difficult to manage. Or, Scott's schedule frees up after dinner which seems to be late and at that point I am half asleep because I am trying to get rest for my early start at work the next day. Or perhaps Scott has a free moment during the day - it always seems to coincide with the days that I am in the office and can't talk myself. And then of course there are those trips like the one this week, where there is a significant time difference in where Scott is and the UK, so managing a time to catch up is even more complicated! Couple these challenges with the fact that I find my husband not a good phone conversationalist to begin with and consequently, I feel like there are too many missed conversations during the week. The weekends become even more crammed with playing catch up and even still - the weekends never make up for everything in the same way as it would if Scott were home.

So here we are at the end of a 6 or 7 week solid stint of Scott having been away every week and some weekends straight in a row without a break. He is coming back just in time for his family to arrive in the UK and just in time for me to leave the UK to go on my first trip (and first nights away from Crosby) alone for a short bit. In theory, it sounded marginally like a good idea, although now that it is almost here, both of us are finding it to be a wee bit more stressful than anything else. At this point, we would both say it would just be nice to have a week away from work as a family together, or even better yet, a weekend for Scott & me away at some point too. Neither of those things are going to happen now because of other plans set forth, so we are just trying to move forward in that continuation of the "cram-everything-into-as-little-time-as-we-have-together" mode in the few hours we have as our little family of 3 before our visitors arrive.

The good news for Scott's family who is coming to visit is that they get to spend time with him, since he has arranged his travel schedule to be here while they are. The downside for me is that as soon as they leave and just after I return, his traveling commences again. And although it will be nice for him to have some extra hands to help out with Crosby while I am away, it would have been a good experience for both he & Crosby to be on their own for a week so Scott could see how the other shoe fits (since we have a nanny who comes when I work so she comes when Scott works too!). His response to this idea was something coy, reinforcing the fact that he knows how to make these things work to his advantage. (I describe his response with all my love of course). If I had my parents over every time Scott left town, I think they would live with us permanently at this point!

The only other small advantage from all of these worldly travels of Scott's is that Crosby is gaining a collection of dress up clothes and shoes from around the globe that will rival many other children's play selections some day.....
A vibrant skirt and top from India (Crosby needs a few years to grow into it)
Turkish slippers taste yummy!
The Turkish slippers are pretty cute on her little feet!

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