Single, Married, Other.

In our fourteen years of marriage G and I have been apart in various different forms. In the early days it was simply about missing him. I missed having him at the dinner table. I missed having a date to take to an event. I missed him by my side on the couch in front of the telly. And when I woke up in the morning, the day always began with the initial disappointment of not finding him there next to me.

When I was pregnant it was all of the above and more. It was the unspoken fear of something happening without him. I fell down some stairs in a fairly dramatic fashion when I was about five months pregnant. I waited there quietly at the bottom of the stairs, terrified to stand up and discover that I had to face that something had gone wrong, alone. In my subsequent pregnancies I would have got up and laughed it off, but alone and pregnant does weird things to your mind.

Once the first little traveller had arrived G’s travel took on a different dimension in our relationship. I missed his hands. The hands that helped take the stuff out of the car or hold the baby while the stroller was folded. The hands that reached into the bottom of the bag to find the keys while little bodies lay like sand bags over my shoulder. Social occasions were no longer just about not having G, it was the logistics. A lunch at a friend’s house grappling to assemble a tricky porta cot with a screaming baby on my hip and a meal sitting cold on a table. A table that appeared to be full of everyone’s else’s partner but mine.

I’ve spoken to so many of you who know what I mean, those with spouses who travel, those who fly in, only to fly out. There’s many of us out there. We get the kids dressed, choose something to wear, prepare food, wrangle with car seats and seat belts before stopping to fill the car up with petrol; we arrive at our destinations knowing the fall back position is not available. You’re doing this one solo. You’re the designated driver, the emergency call, and the only one there in the middle of the night when the 24 hour bug hits.

It’s my choice to bring us all home without G at this time of year. Doha loses half of its population over the summer and activities are limited in the searing heat. We’re lucky to be able to have somewhere to come home to. So lucky.

But I miss him.

I’m sure that there are some people here in Australia who believe that G is a figure of my imagination.

“Is your husband home with you?” they asked with a raised eyebrow.

“What does he do again?”

G and I sit face to face through a laptop screen. He’s sitting at our family table in Qatar eating breakfast in a suit, while I’m thinking about what I’ll feed the children for dinner as they tear past the front window of the beach house on their bikes. I talk to him about my weekend, who was there, what was funny, the food, the wine he would have loved. He giggles at my stories about the children and tells me about the rugby club, work and the interesting guy he met who’s originally from South Australia. Time moves on until we both have to admit that it’s time to go, he has to get to work, he’ll be late. Our voices trail off not wanting to arrive at a definite end.

“Okay then, I’ll speak to you tomorrow…”

“Love you, miss you…”

I miss you too.

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  1. I, like many, identify and share so many of your situations! No wonder I think you’re a fabulous blogger!! 🙂 Husband has/is travelling 8 out of 12 weeks. Shortest stint away 12 days at once. Longest and last is coming up and that will be 23 days. I am a naturalised Australian with no family here and all of them are in the US. And, although I’m so lucky to have lovely friends, it’s just not the same as the constant companion. It’s all the little things you spoke about and the more. As I say, “On a good day it’s good and on a bad day, it’s reaaallly bad.” I also struggle with the bit of time just before he goes and the bit of time when he returns. The lead up is all about getting life ready to be without and then on re-entry, it all about catching up on everything that couldn’t get done while away. Throw in a little (or a lot) of jet lag and the feeling of being on your own persists even when everyone in the family is finally under one roof! Things I love about the away time: knowing I’m strong enough to do it on my own and for the most part, pretty well. Things I hate about the away time: being required to be strong enough to do it on my own, bad Skype connections that leave you feeling worse than you were before the call, and the sense of isolation on those bad days. Let’s be honest. No matter how amazing your friends are, they are making lunches, doing carpool and working hard too and you don’t just pick up the phone and say, “I’m having a bad day.” The last bit that I find hard are the comments. People don’t mean to be mean or cutting. They probably don’t know what else to say. But the, “Where is he this time” and “How do you do it?” followed by “half your luck! I’d love a couple of weeks without my husband” and, “Wow, you’re on your own a lot.”….and of course I have to come back with the strong, “Yeah, but we’re doing alright. The kids have been really good and it’s only 12 more days!” Blah, blah, blah! Your posts help me feel normal when clearly, I don’t think we are quite as normal as others! 🙂 Hope today is a good one for you!

  2. From where I’m sitting, you’re pretty damn lucky. 🙂
    My ex-husband ran off with a mistress before my youngest was even one. I had 3 little ones under the age of 5 on my own. 10 years later, it’s a hell of a lot easier but there’s nothing like having someone who really understands what the family dynamics are, how the day went, why so-and-so is upset about this, that or the other.
    G supports you, even if it’s from half a world away. Enjoy it. 🙂

  3. You’re absolutely right. Please tell me your ex suffered really bad karma. What an arse. xx

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