Last week I had the amazing experience of spending a week on Kauai, Hawaii, with my colleagues. I’ve never visited a place so lush. We worked (no, really, we did!) and connected over delicious food, spirits, and even a helicopter ride.
Last week was Tim’s second big business trip. I wrote about my experience when Tim went on his last trip but I was feeling more confident this time. With a bit more experience under my belt, I was certain it would go more smoothly and I was fully prepared to handle a certain level of chaos.
I am a Capable Adult ™ now, after all.
Well, well, well.
First of all, his company sent him to Hawaii. Let’s just start there.
Hawaii. In January. That’s not a business trip, that’s a honeymoon. I thought I was jealous about Europe, but Hawaii in January is epic for a person who is used to snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures. Heck, anywhere warmer than fifty degrees is drool-worthy when compared to the alternative. It’s just plain wrong.
Once I got over my jealousy, we got down to the real work of finding ways to make this a little easier on me, the anti-single-parent. Tim made plans to have extra help around in the evenings in the form of Ellie’s two favorite sitters, he cooked and froze extra meals, and since I’m back at work I figured being at the office during the day would offer more than enough opportunities for adult social interaction to keep me sane.
With all those measures in place I thought, “What could go wrong?”
Ugh. That’s a picture of me, looking at my pre-last-week self and thinking, “Self, sometimes you should just shut the fuck up.”
The week before Tim left, my dad was admitted to the hospital. Nothing seriously life-threatening, but it’s rare for anyone in my family to have a “hospital-serious” illness, so that was concerning. Tim considered canceling his trip but we decided against it. We expected dad would be out in a few days, no worse for the wear, so no need for Tim to stay home.
The night before Tim left, the baby was inconsolable and refused to sleep for more than an hour at a stretch until about 3 a.m.–a rare occurrence for our Gwen. Tim’s flight left early so neither of us got much sleep, starting the week off with a bang–or more accurately, a snore.
The night Tim left, I backed our van into a lamp in the Target parking lot. I know I’m not the best driver, but I usually have the wherewithall to avoid hitting giant, well-lit inanimate objects. I’m blaming sleep deprivation. Thankfully the van itself was not harmed, save for a scratch, and everyone was fine… but I haven’t hit anything with my car since I was a teenager with a learning permit. Embarrassing much?
Monday passed without incident, and this is probably the only time in my life where I will rank a Monday as one of the best days of the week, because it was all downhill from there.
I woke up at 2:30 Tuesday morning to Ellie’s frantic sobbing. I ran to her room to find she’d vomited all over her bed. Her first stomach flu! Lovely! She continued to be sick throughout the day and I did my best to console her in between loads of laundry.
Oh, so much laundry.
That evening I remembered just how contagious the stomach flu can be… so instead of eating the lasagna I’d heated for dinner (one of the meals Tim graciously prepared before he left) I had a few bites of raspberry Jell-O and stuck the lasagna back in the fridge.
Good thing, because I spent most of Wednesday either in bed or the bathroom. I won’t go into the gory details; let’s just say the “I Can’t Keep Anything Down” Diet worked its magic and I lost over 10 pounds in 24 hours.
Ellie stayed home and watched episode after episode of Dora the Explorer, with the occasional break to play games on my iPad, and I tried to wake myself up once in a while to make sure she hadn’t strangled herself or burned the house down around us. I only caught her playing with a lighter once. Parenting WIN.
We even spread the love to one of our sitters, who had to cancel on Thursday and Saturday due to illness. Go Team Sick!
While all this was happening, my father had to be transferred to a local hospital for further tests–again, not super serious but not the quick in-and-out procedure we’d hoped for. More stress.
On Thursday morning I was feeling better but not 100%, so I stayed home from work. My mom (who stayed with us while my dad was in the hospital) offered to take the kids to school, and that’s when we realized I’d left one of the overhead lights on in our van for three days. The battery was dead and my mom had to call AAA for a jump.
Meanwhile, my darling husband is posting photos like this on Facebook:
He has some nerve, but karma is a bitch. On Friday, his flight out of Hawaii was delayed due to mechanical failure. Apparently the plane was fully boarded and on the runway, ready to take off, before they noticed a problem (because that’s not scary at all!)
Tim called me from a hotel in Honolulu to let me know this–and then had to run to the bathroom mid-conversation to vomit. Apparently that stomach bug was strong enough to follow him across 48 states! After some fancy finagling with his flight schedule he arrived home on Sunday morning, only 17 hours later than planned. Given our luck, I’m just grateful his plane didn’t drop out of the sky.
Thankfully things have settled down a bit since he got home. Life is mostly back to normal, with the exception of my dad still being in the hospital (he’s recovering from surgery and doing very well!)
As for the whole traveling thing, I was really hoping the third time would be the charm… unfortunately this was the worst trip of them all. To think, our family hadn’t even had so much as a bad cold since winter started–to get hit with the stomach bug from hell, on top of my dad being sick, on top of car issues and flight cancellations… gah!!!! When it rains, it pours.
What life lesson do I take away from this experience? I’m not quite sure. Part of me thinks chaining Tim to the house is the only viable solution, but he’s not having it (and I’m sure his employer would take issue with that). I could take the Positive Spin route and choose to forget the negative stuff entirely–after all, Tim got home safely, I lost ten pounds, everyone is still alive.
Eh, that’s not my style.
Instead, I’ll say this: Sometimes, no matter how well you plan or how positive you are, life is just plain crappy (literally and figuratively in this case) and the best thing you can do is put your head down and keep going. It sucks, but you’ll get through it because you have no choice.
And it’s going to take a lot of effort not to be an anxious wreck the next time Tim says the words “business trip.”
I didn’t write about it at the time, but Tim returned from a business trip to Hungary a couple weeks ago and at the risk of sounding incredibly un-feminist–I’m not entirely sure how I survived that week and a half without my husband.
Let me preface this by saying, I am not single parent material. Period. Tim and I make a great team and he’s an exceptional and involved father. For that I am very grateful, but when he leaves life gets… difficult. Like I’m suddenly missing a large and very valuable limb.
Case in point: Tim went to Montreal for a weekend WordCamp this summer, leaving Ellie and me (a very pregnant me, I might add) to our own devices. My mom came to help for part of the time, but mostly it was just the two of us, hanging out. I thought I was prepared for the chaos. I even dug out my giant childhood sticker collection and let Ellie have at it, thinking that would keep her busy for a while (and obviously forgetting most two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat on crack.)
Sticker fun lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of peace–that summed up my weekend. Ellie refused to nap, so by the time Sunday evening rolled around she was alternately bouncing off the walls with giddy happiness and throwing herself on the floor in a fantastic tantrum–all in the span of maybe two minutes. At one point Tim Skyped us to see how things were going and, upon answering the video chat, was greeted with two sobbing females–one child, one adult, both at the end of their proverbial ropes. Let’s just say it was intense. I’m surprised he didn’t decide to stay in Canada permanently after that.
So that gives you an idea of how I fare when I parent alone–I’m basically on autopilot, and a pretty crappy autopilot at that. I’m less hormonal these days, sure, but now I have two children to think about–twice the chaos! Half the sleep! Continue reading