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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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05388368769931811723 Pollock and Co.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05388368769931811723 Just Sayin

    My pâté moment was when my husband came home from a conference….in FIJI. Fiji was about the 4th trip in 2 months for him. We had a 3 year old and a 6 month old. I have no family living in this country. We were in the 2nd year of starting our business. My already DD breasts were filled to the brim with breast milk making them a double who knowS what, and I plus size frame was carring 20 extra kilos. The welcome home had me hear of the beautiful beaches, fun drinks and good chats with others, giving of a very sweet grass skirt and coconut bra for the 3 year old and my gift…. a size L pale (aka see-through)”FIJI” tank top with spaghetti straps and a low cut back. You know the kind you cannot wear a bra with and if you scratch your nose, your belly shows. I walked away, cried, and carried on. He had not a clue!…or did he???? BTW – still happy 12 years later!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09334181966209041832 Corinne – Daze of My Life

    Ah yes, my hubs has always travelled a lot and it’s good and bad.

    He’s away in Lebanon at the moment and I’m mighty jealous. It’s the start of a lot of travel around the middle east and Africa. He’ll be heading off to lots of exotic places I’ve never been, while I’m stuck in Dubai wrangling kids with no help.

    I’m going to enjoy beans on toast and lots of episodes of Homeland though. Always has to be a bright side.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12008030206240908911 Stacy Rushton

    I’ve had too many moments like those to count over the last two+decades. The only trip I didn’t envy was the two weeks he spent in Nigeria when younger daughter was mere weeks old and her sister was 2 1/2. I still figured I had gotten the better part of that bargain. (And I probably shouldn’t have said that out loud. It’ll probably be our next move, because I am certain God has a sense of humor.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11920366609527181388 Joy

    Hilarious! My husband is off to Warsaw this week where it’s cold and snowy while I enjoy sunny 50F temps at home in Istanbul. Sometimes it’s nicer to be the one who’s staying at home.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04702217530704657676 Muddling Along

    Oh I so know where you are coming from – it’s not that they want to be rubbing your nose in, it is just that they are out of sight and out of mind

    Yes I do love having some space to myself but the whole uninterrupted sleep in a hotel with no children and clean bedlinen is a treat even if it is work

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08118410346507470789 Naomi Hattaway

    I used to have those moments … and still very much am flying solo these days BUT I’d rather be at home in my own bed, without packing and repacking and flying (I’ve come to despise flying lately), all of my comforts of home — then to see the insides of hotels all over the world.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14873123158232426446 Nebulous Chicken

    Pate moments don’t just come husband-shaped. Before we had kids, he relented and took me with him to Songkla in the south of Thailand. We were living in Bangkok at the time and he travelled Frequently with a capital F, leaving me to explore this crazy capital on my own. Songkla couldn’t have been more different – empty white beaches edging an impossibly blue sea. Whilst he was at work, he lent me his phone and said I could call home. Of course, I wanted to share this amazing experience with my best mate back in Blighty. The only place I could get a signal was knee deep in aforementioned impossibly blue sea. “Hey Liza!” I cried, “Guess where I am?” To my astonishment, once I had told her, she hung up on me. I realise now that a dreary March day in Chester, housebound with a teething baby is not brightened in the slightest by a best mate calling from the shore of a palm fringed paradise….x

  • Marnie

    I just wanted to say that I often think of this post and laugh. I loved it at the time and still love it now.

  • http://ms-havachat.blogspot.ie/ ms-havachat

    G is about to possibly start travelling ….. and while I think there might be a few advantages (catching up on TV, going to bed early, eating lighter meals at night etc) I know from my friends who are solo-midweek parents there’s a lot that I’m not going to like at all. Just hope he’s flying often enough that the FFP rake up quickly so we can have some benefit.
    Corporate business has a lot to answer for in terms of work-family balance … they talk about it, but so few actually respect it.

  • Happydays

    I remember the time my husband left me at home in Singapore with 3 children under 4 for ONE MONTH to do an Insead management course that was so very important for his career. One day he rang and was busy telling me about the incredible 5 star michelin restaurant he’d been to the night before and how much fun they’d had truffle hunting that morning. I had to interrupt him and say I couldn’t talk as the toddler had poo’ed on the floor and the baby was eating it. The sad thing is I didn’t even have to make up the excuse!!

  • http://expatpartnersurvival.com Clara

    Ha ha ha – the introduction to my book (The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide) is how my husband comes home to tell me in great details about his amazing night out in Islamabad while I, with no-one to leave the children with and univited anyway as a woman and partner, have been at home hacking up green gobules of pus all night. It did sort of sum things up at the time. However, it’s not just expats this happens to – he’s been in exciting trips all over the world while we’ve been back in the UK as well. Although so many trips are fly -in, fly-out these days, sometimes I would rather not bother…..

  • PKM

    I remember the late night my G was at a fun not so business night with his colleagues – because what is easier than just leaving the office early to explore the fun new city if everyone else is too and you don’t have to arrange anything for the kids yourself? – and I was debating whether to go to the ER with one of the kids after a bad fall (all three under age 5) and wanted to discuss but couldn’t reach him, so I had to call one of the other wives/moms with three so she could call HER husband who was also there and would néver, out of fear for his own life, put his phone on silent, so I could reach mine through him. First thing he said was that it was such a fun party he wished I had been there… But no, I was with the badly bruised child. Having just arrived in a new country those are the moments you really want to be able to rely on your husband, but they are on a different pace of getting to know and enjoying the new surroundings, definitely NOT from the vantage point of a park bench in a playground.