We’ve been married for over 23 years, and my husband has been traveling on business for the last 8 or 9. His domestic travel averages twice a month for 2-4 days at a time, and usually not on weekends. Having our two children has made the traveling both more difficult and easier at the same time.
When they were younger, (they are now 7 and 11), there was the adjustment period, not only when he left but also when he returned. Children thrive on routine and consistency and having a parent who appears and then disappears for days at a time was a challenge. Whenever Daddy did not come home at night, we usually reached a meltdown point. To a young child, a parent’s return at the end of the day serves as a defining point without which the day seems endless. For this reason I usually tried to plan a visit by (or to) Grandparents to provide a major distraction (and stimulation) to divert them from their father’s absence.
I then began feeling sorry for myself being left home with the kids while he was traveling on an expense account. I began to seek out restaurants which catered to the young and uncivilized. “Kids Eat Free”, “Kids Eat for $.99”. OK, where’s my table? (My definition of fine dining with kids: anywhere I don’t have to carry my own tray.) This has helped my kids to develop a zest for eating out which has turned into an entitlement, I’m afraid. As soon as my husband announces his next trip, my son says to me, “So, where are we eating?” I’ve created a Frankenstein; he’s almost my size and has an appetite like an gourmet, so the kid’s menu doesn’t cut it with him anymore. The children have also made the traveling easier, because of their company. I’m sure that this would be a very different experience if I were alone.
My husband has seen many diverse parts of this country and he has the frequent flyer miles to prove it. He has a certain amount of autonomy when it comes to scheduling his travel, but there have been times when he has missed important school and family functions. Business travel may seem glamorous and no doubt some of it isn’t too bad (some men have women in every port, mine has restaurants), but he has had his share of delayed and/or rough flights, awful weather and various other niceties of air travel. (He’s prone to air and motion sickness as well!)
I’ve had to postpone things I’ve wanted to do (such as continuing my education) because I have to function as a single parent part of the time, and can’t depend on him to be home at any given time. But we’ve learned to work around these obstacles and have adjusted to life “on the road” at home.