“Do you blog? You should write a blog about all of this.” With those words an idea I couldn’t shake was planted in my head. My lovely midwife said this at a prenatal appointment while I was pregnant with our third baby. She was fascinated with the life that my husband and I had worked out for our family. At that time we were essentially living completely separate lives in cities 130 miles apart. My husband was working as the general manager of a restaurant in Clearwater, FL and I was living with our two daughters in Fort Myers, FL. He works such long hours that he would go to his mother’s house to sleep and come home to us on his one day off each week. We lived this arrangement for 364 days. During that time I had no choice but to figure it all out on my own. I had two young daughters and was progressing through my pregnancy with our son and I was, essentially, a single parent for a large majority of that time.
Now, let me insert one point here. I’m not complaining about any of this. I’m simply stating the facts of how our life was at that time. We decided that the kids and I would stay in the home we were in before my husband started at this job. We chose this because we lived in an otherwise vacant home owned by a family member and, in exchange for caring for the home, we paid no rent. In place of rent we were paying over $1100 each month for the health insurance that was covering our family including this third pregnancy. We did what was necessary for our family to stay afloat.
For a year I did everything needed to run our household 6 days each week and some weeks more than that. My husband has often gone long stretches without a day off for various reasons. I believe the longest we went without seeing him was 19 days. I made every meal, ran every errand, wiped every runny nose, woke every time child had a late night need. Our middle child, at three years-old, still doesn’t sleep through the night. But I’ll explain that in a future post. The point here is that I did it all.
After the birth of our son, my husband was given 5 days off to be with us before he left for work again. Lucky for me, he was able to take our oldest to school before leaving town and my mom brought her home so I had no need to leave home right away. I was 5 days into this adventure as a mother of three and I was alone for middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, circumcision care (a totally new and scary thing for me) as well as 100% of the care of our two older children. When he was eight days old I had to pack up my little man, get myself human looking again, dress both of my girls and get everyone out the door in time for school drop-off. This is the day I realized that I am a semi-single parent. The reality is, my husband sees his children for the same amount of time each week, on average, as a single dad who gets his children every other weekend.
So, the question I would get most often during this time was, “How do you do it?!” The answer is simple: You just do it. I was fortunate to live about a 20 minute drive from my mom and aunt. They were there to help as frequently as they could be and usually when I was about to go completely bananas. But for the most part my life was about never stopping for too long. I just always kept going.
Our situation has improved somewhat now. When our son was 3-months-old we cancelled the ridiculously expensive insurance and moved into a rental house in the Tampa Bay area. We live about 20 minutes from the restaurant so the hubs can come home every night. But that doesn’t mean his schedule has changed. He still works 85+ hours each week spread over six days. He sees our children for about two hours each morning before reminding them all to behave and kissing everyone goodbye. Have you ever heard the term “golf widow”? It refers to a woman whose husband has retired but spends his life golfing, leaving her alone. I am a restaurant widow.
I plan to write about my experiences parenting three children and this crazy life we are living primarily without the help of one important person. I hope you find this blog intriguing, enlightening, comical and maybe even a little bit nutty. Mostly, I just want to share my experience in hopes that you can find a little something similar to yours.
~The Restaurant Widow.