I’m lucky that my husband does not travel very often for his job. There was a time — an exceptionally crazy time — in our lives when he did, and it was nearly the end of me. I’m grateful that those days are behind us. At least for now.
He did have a trip this week to Los Angeles for the annual big convention in his industry. Since we are in New Jersey, it seems that a jaunt to LA really isn’t “worth it” for any less than four days. So off he went.
Now, because I met my husband while working for the same employer a million years ago, I know his business well and have attended said convention. So I know that, while there are “meetings” and “networking opportunities,” let’s just call a spade a spade and say that he has just enjoyed nearly a week of fancy dinners, cocktail parties and shows. But it’s all for work, so it carries a Mission Critical label. With a side of steak.
Left here in the sheer chaos of the house alone with three kids, I just have a few ground rules for my husband’s business travel.
Do not call or FaceTime us from a fancy dinner or party. We love to hear from you when you’re on the road. Really, we do! But dude, it’s like fucking Lord of the Flies up in here because we are out of ketchup for our chicken nuggets, so try to abandon the not-so-faint clink of wine glasses in the background and step outside to call home. Bonus points if you can first finish that mini shrimp rangoon that was passed to you on a pretty napkin while I negotiated even distribution of the last Chips Ahoy without bodily harm. At least pretend to be in a conference room working on an Excel spreadsheet. Throw us a bone.
Do not complain that you are tired. Was it the late night parties? The early morning knock on the door with your breakfast room service? Or maybe the phantom pain in your rib from the absence of Parent/Child H-Formation Sleeping. Doesn’t matter. Don’t even say it out loud. Repeat after me: You are not tired. You actually don’t know what tired is this week.
Accept that, upon your return, you will be solely in charge of our children for a still-undetermined period of time. Probably in the 6-9 hour range. I’m working on a fair calculation but I think it involves number of hours spent watching in-flight movies x number of hours of uninterrupted sleep. Times infinity.
Carefully hide any and all evidence of a golf outing incorporated into this trip. Remember the time when you rolled on out of here with your checked luggage in one hand and your golf clubs in the other while I stood in the doorway, agog, with spit-up on my shoulder? I understand that’s how the “networking” goes at these things. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. OK, maybe I am. But I like that we’ve now made Business Trip Golf the dark secret we no longer discuss. So, thank you for hiding your golf shoes deep in the recesses of your luggage. And I assume you either now rent your clubs or carry them out to the car under the cover of darkness the night before your departure. It is the thing of which we do not speak.
Be completely available for any home front technical support on a 24/7 basis. This week, for example, we had serious rainfall here. As in, why did I not get the minivan upgrade option to convert into an ark? Anyway, I was worried about the basement and needed information about the sump pumps. So I’m glad you picked up the Travel Bat Phone to talk me off the ledge about my wine supply potentially being carried away by a moderate current. And then, my beloved Keurig machine started making horrible noises, followed by the equivalent of a Mac White Screen of Death. Me. Three Kids. No coffee. I ask you, does it get any more terrifying? Before interrupting your networking session/Cabernet tasting, I decided to troubleshoot on YouTube. I followed several instructional videos meticulously, to no avail. Thankfully, a helpful if not borderline insane guy on Amazon knew the highly delicate approach of repeatedly unplugging and re-plugging the machine while pushing the power button at a frantic pace. Crisis averted, thanks to ExtremeCaffeineNut007.
Pretend it wasn’t really that much fun. You really have mastered this art over the years and have your talking points down. “Oh, you know, it’s the same old stuff every year.” “It gets old after a while.” Etc. Etc. I’m not listening because we both know it’s utter bullshit. But I appreciate the gesture, honey.
* * *
I know, I’m a total wimp. Plenty of people have spouses who travel regularly for business. Others have loved ones deployed in military service. And of course there are tons of single parents out there as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I tip my hat to you. I don’t know how you do it.
And yet, I survived, despite my kids’ best efforts to take me down. And we missed my husband. But he better not even think of putting his golf clothes in the laundry pile.