Pâté Moments


A girlfriend of mine once told me that the reason G and I were still so happily together, was because he travelled a lot.

“I’d love it if my husband went somewhere. Anywhere!” she said with her hands gripped in  prayer.

I understood what she meant when she spoke of her dreams of eggs on toast for dinner and full control over the remote on the telly.

“I’d just like the chance to miss him.”

It’s definitely true that when G travels I develop a greater appreciation for all that he does. But I think solo parenting is tough work for anyone, and solo parenting in a foreign country can perhaps be that little bit more isolating.

What’s that? Yes, I know. I chose to be here. G and I both did. And we love it here, but occasionally when G hops on a plane and escapes has to go on business trip, there’s a twang of jealously on my behalf. If I was the bigger person, a more rational, kind hearted wife, I’m sure I wouldn’t feel this way. I’d be happy for him that he was enjoying hours of child free time floating between Oxford Street, Hyde Park and his 400 thread count egyptian cotton sheets. Really. Happy.

We were living in Canada with a van load of very small children when G had to shoot off to Paris unexpectedly. He tried very hard to look sad about it, which just made it worse. Once he’d left the country I got over myself, the days were long but we were all fine. I almost managed to pretend to be happy for him, even when he rang and told me about the amazing dinner he’d had and how pretty the Champs de Eylsess had been at night. I listened while he explained the pâté in great detail (as only one can after their sixteenth glass of french wine).

“Sounds amazing” I said in a deadpan voice while I nibbled on my cold piece of toast and drank my reheated coffee.

And then it all went pear shaped.

He arrived home with a can, yes that’s right a can of pâté he’d picked up from the airport. Just for me.

I couldn’t pretend any more.

“Hmmm” he screwed up his nose as he peered into the open can “not quite the same as what we had in the restaurant”

I stopped myself from throwing the can at his head before uttering “No shit Sherlock” and retired early for the evening.

Yesterday, I shared a post on the 4 kids, 20 suitcases Facebook page on The Wrong Way to Say Goodbye. Some of your comments were hysterical and made me remember that we’ve all had our pâté moments.

Like the guy who went on business trip to Mumbai which would have been fine, had it not coincided with his wife’s first day back at work. And when I say first day back, it was her first day in twelve years.

“Hubby is away at the moment … he left the week I started work (the first time in 12 years), the week I put my kids into daycare for the first time ever, the week the teachers decided to strike. Apparently he loves Mumbai! He seems to think I would too. That’s nice”.

Or the women who was in Nigeria while her husband set off for Switzerland.

“He was on a trip to Swizerland and I was back in Lagos with a one year old and a four year old. For some reason he thought it would be a good idea to share with me the beautiful view from his hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva. There was nothing else for it – I didn’t say anything, I just quietly hung up.”

I did that to G, hung up on him. He was explaining what his new golf clubs looked like while sitting in his hotel room in Beijing. I was in the car, driving through the snow with three screaming children who still needed to be fed, bathed, and put to bed.

“What’s that? Ssshhhcccrrrrraaaasssscccrraa. Sorry, you’re breaking up?” Ain’t nobody got time for that.

It’s obviously much easier now the children are older, they can now turn the bath on, deposit the bread in the toaster, and put the ice-cubes in Mummy’s special drink. And last night, after they were all in bed and I had time to reflect, I realized that for me, it is just pure unadulterated jealousy. And as my friend Erika says “Jealousy makes you nasty”.

When G and I set off on this adventure together, I probably didn’t really think about the times we’d have to spend apart. More importantly I hadn’t thought about the times that I would be left holding the not so proverbial baby, while he was trying to get an upgrade to the executive floor while filling out his breakfast request. And yes, I know, it all balances out in the end. It does, doesn’t it?

This morning I came home and saw G’s car out the front of our house, and for a split second I thought he’d had to come home early from work. And then I remembered he was in London.  His text this morning spoke of how cold it was and how he was on his way to TESCO. Hardly very exciting right? But in the words of Erica Jong “jealousy is all the fun you think they had”.


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