My husband is leaving me…again; work widow woes

 

Joey at work
How can you not miss those eyes?

I’ve been left before. In fact my partner of 12 years and father of our two kids has left us multiple times a year for all of the years we’ve been together. Not for another woman, or because of marital issues, though we have our share just like any normal couple, but because of his career. As a Red Seal Tradesman who is damned good at his job, he is in demand. I am darned proud of him too! But the reality is, only a handful of these jobs are local, the rest scattered throughout BC, and into Alberta.

And so it happens that I am preparing to be left again to my own devices, to take care of our childrens’ needs, the housework, the homework help, the bedtimes, bath times, time outs and out times on my own. To find my own rhythm as one when we do so much as two, even when he is working hard locally. To try and carve out a small amount of time to myself, even if it means putting the kids to bed early with a movie, or ‘having to use the bathroom’ so I can read a few pages, check Facebook or count to 100 and breathe.

Single moms, this is often your every day. This is hard! And you deserve a nod here. Many of you have found and rock your groove. As a ‘work widow’ I get a glimpse of your world too often for my liking, and each time, I’m left wondering ‘Just how do they do it? And not just manage, but thrive?’, while here I am bumbling along, counting down the days until my other half comes home.

Helisa family
Family day at Sea to Sky Gondola

Maybe its the continual change of routine; it seems to take a few days to find my way, and then once I seem to be pretty efficient, he walks in the door and my routine is shot to hell. Maybe it’s my daily struggle with chronic pain and mental health issues that make it so tough; a post for another day. Maybe its because our family is provinces away and unable to help, meanwhile I don’t like to ask. And maybe it’s because I’m a SAHM, no job to get me out talking to people older than 10, to force me out of the house and out of my shell. Maybe I’m worried that without his silliness here, my serious side won’t have enough balance, that there wont be enough laughter in the house.

I suspect it’s all that and more, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. After all, the majority of tradesman my partner works with are married or in long term relationships with children. And that’s only one trade out of many who make their livings away from the families they love so much and work so hard to support. Some of those moms holding down the fort must feel similar, no?

silly faces
I guess I’m not serious all the time…

So, as I prepare for another session of loneliness, I am virtually reaching out for ideas on how to make these work trips more bearable, and more fun for the kids and I. For tips on how to remain calm as the sole disciplinarian and not resort to yelling. For ideas on how to stay sane, and the constant that my kids need when their daddy is far away.

Do you or your other half work out of town? Are you a single mom? What helps you cope with the everyday?

14 Comments


  1. I really like this article and I genuinely feel your pain. In August of 2010, just 4 months after the birth of our daughter, I sent my husband packing. Like you, it was for work.

    We had been living in Calgary and he was working as a labourer in construction. He made good money, when he worked but didn’t work a lot because of the weather. So, we made the decision to move back to my hometown, where the cost of living was dirt cheap and we thought we could get ahead. Anyway, I digress. He left, he found work and I stayed in Calgary to scale down our 5 bedroom home and pack up what we were taking. About a month later, I put most of our stuff in storage, loaded up what we needed day to day and went to reconnect with my man!

    He had found a job working in a mining camp about an hour away from home. That’s not too bad, considering most city dwellers travel that on their morning commute. And our adventure began.

    He worked and lived in the camp for 10 days at a time and was home for 4. It was an constant adjustment – when he left it took a couple of days to get on track, then when he came home it took a day to get used to him being around again. We did this for 2 years before we moved out west again, vowing never to live separately again!

    Here are a few things that saved us. We skyped every day. Often times twice a day. We did it mostly for our daughter, so she could see her daddy every day, but it was beneficial for both of us to stay connected, despite the miles between us. Occasionally, we loaded up and drove the hour out to camp for a surprise visit. If your husband is working closer to home, it might be nice to get out and see where he works, even if only for a day or two.
    The most important thing that helped me was to make new friends. Although this was my home town, I left and 18 and hadn’t lived there for about 25 years. I started going to a local church and connected with some great people there. I attended a mom and tots group and made some friends there. You can also use fb to connect with other SAHM’s and see if you can all get together for a time out with or without kids.

    I’m not sure where in the Lower Mainland you live, but you can track me down! We are currently living in Mission but looking to move closer to Vancouver as my husband now attends an art college in downtown and the hour and a half one way commute is almost killing us! More than him working out of town ever did. Here’s me, if you are interested: https://www.facebook.com/DawnMWarga

    Reply

    1. Skype seems like one of the magic answers. We’ve never used it to be honest, but we do Facetime when there is a strong enough signal where he is. I think it would be easier to adapt if it was a regular occurrence with a regular schedule, but it varies so much.
      He hasn’t been away in 8months, being lucky to have lots of work close to home which is great. The down side of that is, our 4 year old son doesn’t remember daddy ever leaving for work. And though we have tried to prepare him, he isn’t impressed and has sobbed for him 2/3 nights so far. It breaks my heart and right now, it is the worst thing about this.
      Otherwise we are doing ok so far. Though, even going for milk seems like a chore lol
      Thanks for reaching out 🙂

      Reply

  2. Well my husband doesn’t work away very often but his schedule is 7 days working and 7 days off… we are coming into a night shift of 7 days and here’s how I deal. Keep meals simple. Raw veggies and fruit, cheese and crackers, big pots of soup that you can eat for 2 days. Establish early bedtime quiet time. My kids need to be in bed with a book at 7pm. At least 1 fun outting. The park, the ice cream parlor (Is parlor a word people use?) It helps break up the time. I hope you have a peaceful work widowhood.

    Reply

    1. Great tips. We definitely scale down meals and are more likely to have soup and sandwiches or breakfast for dinner than a roast lol. Its nice that you have a relatively routine work schedule in your house, though I dread hubby being on night shift while working at home. Even with his use of earplugs to sleep, I feel internal pressure to keep the house quiet and take the kids out. That said, night shift is his preferred shift while away. Eat, sleep, work, repeat.

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  3. I’m a single Mom, and somedays can be pretty tough, but as long as I have a friend to call and “:vent” to , I’m fine.

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    1. Venting is essential! Im lucky to have a couple great friends who never let it show if they are tired of me complaining when I need to lol.
      With my first child I was pretty new here and had no friends with kids. Pre-Facebook days lol. I felt so utterly alone sometimes.
      Now, I’m in a much better place. But it still has its challenges. Rock on single mom! My hat’s off to you 🙂

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  4. My hubby is out of town 21 days and in town for only 8 each month. It is hard and it sucks and I miss him 🙁

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    1. It is hard! And, while i think the regularity helps in a routine sense for the kids, but we still miss them so much, still wish we could shower without listening for noise of destruction lol

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  5. So glad to have clicked on this post from the YMC forum. I live this life and love hearing from others that do too! We’re currently living on a 14 & 7 schedule but in the past have done 21 & 8 and all variations in between.
    I do work out of the home, so I find that scheduling everything is helpful. And making sure the schedule is set well in advance. We also make a point of eating out once a week (sanity saver!), and my biggest tip….find an activity that your kids like at a facility with something to do for YOU. I found that having my daughter skate at the rec centre twice a week really helped me: she skated, I walked the track or swam. It was a great to get that me time.
    We also make sure that my daughter has a special *date” night with my husband when he is home, that gives them time together, but also gives me a night off to do anything I want (Usually that means doing absolutely nothing!).

    Reply

    1. I really like the dual purpose facility idea! I might actually exercise lol besides chasing after the boy.
      I relearned a few things while he was away…that housework can wait when there’s only me because its better to be in the moment with the kids, that pb&j with apple slices CAN be a dinner on occasion etc.
      I’ll be getting more practice soon, there’s a 3 week job coming up. Fingers crossed it goes a little smoother for the little guy, he had a hard time wit the last one.

      Reply

      1. Nachos are also a great dinner 🙂

        Good luck with the next away time, hope the adjustment is easier for your son this time. I think each time gets easier for kids.

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  6. I don’t have to deal with this and I feel fortunate. It’s definitely hard to manage a household without support, and hard to adjust to not having your partner around.

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  7. I’m so fortunate but a friend of mine used to do little things that made all the difference time-wise. When she made things that were freezable like spaghetti sauce, chilli, casserole, stew, pies, cookies, etc., she always made 3 or 4 batches and froze them in meal sizes. This meant meals for busy days, frustrating days or days that she wanted to spend time having fun with the kids. Trading off with friends – having a friend that can take your kids for a play date once a week for a full afternoon so you can have it off, of course you do the same for them. Tea parties for moms and daughters – fun for all. Etc.

    Reply

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