One quarter of our family is traveling again. Terence flew to Turkey last night and by this evening had already taken stock of the former protest flashpoint in Taksim Square and engaged in in-depth conversations about the political situation. All of which you can read about on his blog. Green with jealousy, I’m trying to dust off my own blog again. As was often the case last year, mine hews to the personal while Terence discusses “third party issues,” as my father would say. I guess we fulfill gender stereotypes.
Except for the ways we don’t. As anyone who knows him will attest, Terence is an incredibly patient and available parent and spouse. He knows better than to say he “helps” with Hannah and Margaret (or, God forbid, “babysits”). He has been the primary parent many times, including a summer when Hannah was three months old. (That summer taught us both about the different expectations for men and women as parents. Terence got crazy credit for merely keeping an infant alive. I got asked, “how can you leave her?”). In our house, when a kid cries out in the middle of the night, or needs to be picked up sick from school, or has hours of homework to complete, Terence is as likely as I am to respond. And it’s because of all those little and big acts of caretaking that I am freaking out a little at the prospect of several weeks of being home alone. And more, much more, I am missing that feeling that there’s someone who has my back, with whom I can laugh and/or rant about the experience of parenting these particular kids on this particular day.
I know, I know. I sound like such a whiner. Millions of people parent their children all by themselves, every day, and millions more are effectively solo because their spouse works such long hours or travels. My mother wrote the book on that situation; my sister’s first words were “Daddy DC” as she and my mother put my father on yet another train to go away for work. I have so many support systems, including both a mother and a mother-in-law who will be coming to help. And this is after all THREE WEEKS, after which we too will get to go on a traveling adventure. But still, I miss him.
Five years ago, I spent the summer alone with Hannah while very, very pregnant with Margaret. Dealing with many of these same feelings, I became obsessed with the John Adams documentary, especially its heroine, Abigail. “If she can inoculate her kids with smallpox while managing a farm and fending off enemy attacks, then not see John for almost DECADE……I can make it through another week!” It might be time for me to watch it again, though I can also think about my real-life role models, like my friends whose spouses are serving our country abroad. I want so badly to be someone who can just cope, suck it up, figure anything out, but I am not there yet.