Sunday, March 16, 2014

Inaugural crazy-making week

Well, I had an idea to do a daily document of this week of firsts, but due to the very nature of said week, that didn't happen. I am forgiving myself, however, because my gods, people. This was a WEEK.

The special circumstances surrounding this past week? The Barbarian was decidedly missing. Far, far away. In Texas. All week. Or, well, close enough. Before we're up Tuesday morning till after we're in bed Friday night counts as all week in my book.  

Why, you might ask? Why would The Barbarian leave his tiny goblin and tiny toad and larger-than-average dear wife (I mean, let's call it what it is, right? And on that note, King Toad Agooga would actually be quite a large toad, wouldn't he? Hmmm...) for an entire week? There are very few legitimate reasons he would do this, and this was about the most legitimate of all.

Work. The Barbarian left us for work. And this, my friends, constitutes one of those major changes I mentioned the other day. The Barbarian now travels for work. A lot. Like, potentially every other week, he'll be gone for a significant amount of time. Some months he may be home one week, gone the next, home the next, and gone the following. That kind of a lot.

Deciding for him to take this new job took serious deliberation, as it came with an extensive list of pros and cons. We lost our ridiculously awesome benefits, including our health insurance (which was so fantastic, I can't even begin to describe--and for which we paid a small fraction of the premium), our stock options, our generous 401k plan, our employee discounts, and The Barbarian's company car. So our overhead has gone way, way up. Health insurance entirely out-of-pocket, a new car payment, along with maintenance, insurance, and registration costs for the vehicle, paying a larger percentage of our income into savings and retirement in order to keep on track, etc. AND the wee folk and I now find ourselves on our own, which, as you can imagine, is...huge. And scary. And overwhelming. And many, many other adjectives of that nature. And The Barbarian has to be far away from his babies, and that's just plain heartbreaking. I can't even fathom it. It's hard enough on my end having him gone, but to be the one far away and not get to hold them and cuddle them and kiss them and watch their silly antics? UGH.  

But on the other side, assuming all goes well, we will see a significant increase in income, and The Barbarian now works for a small, local, highly successful and well-respected company, who takes phenomenal care of their employees and promotes a work ethic that follows the ideal of working to live, not living to work. They work hard and they play hard. And that's freaking awesome. And he now has a REAL PEOPLE SCHEDULE. For over 10 years, he hasn't had a weekend off unless he's taken vacation for it, and THAT FUCKING SUCKS. We were the couple who could never make it to ANYTHING, and if we did, he had to go in early, leave early, and we were still always late (in addition to an odd day-of-the-week schedule, it was also an odd time-of-the-day schedule, shifted much later than most people's workday--which had its benefits when we were childless, for sure, but meant he was coming home not long before the wee folks' bedtime some nights, and that sucked). AND we couldn't even watch football together on Sundays. Like, seriously. What the shit is that? BULLSHIT. That's what that is. 

But the real deciding factor on the pro side for us is the fact that this position is fun, challenging, and rewarding for The Barbarian. His old job was basically static, with very little, if any, change, and absolutely zero chance for mobility. It was rote, it was boring, and it was infuriating (working with the public has that effect, no?). And his happiness at and with his work trumps all the benefits we lost and the fact that we now have a new reality, one that will take some serious getting used to, but will become easier as time goes on (PLEASE, GODS, SAY IT WILL). We can handle this. At least, I'm pretty sure we can. Many families do, right? And it's not like he's leaving for months at a time as some parents are forced to. Military families? You have my utmost and sincere respect. That I'm not sure I could handle. At all.

So my necessary mindset about it, then, is that now we'll have less actual time together as a family, but the time we do have together will be precious and, therefore, of more intense, better quality. Because one of the areas where The Barbarian and I are similar is in our lack of motivation to actually, you know, do stuff. We are serious homebodies and are seriously into just chilling. So basically, we're lazy. As I've mentioned. But we have kids now, and we don't necessarily want to model that (all the time). And going out and doing stuff as a family is freaking awesome and so much fun. And now we can take advantage of stuff like fairs and festivals and all that fun shit that happens on the weekend. We fully intend to, too.

So, with all that as background (I tend to give a lot of background in the telling of things--you either love it or you hate it), my point with this whole post is to let you all know that we did, in fact, survive our first big business trip. Perhaps not with flying colours, but in the appropriate number of pieces and with nearly all sanity intact.

But my gods, was it intense. As anyone who has spent an entire day caring for tiny humans knows, it takes A LOT to keep it together, and by the late afternoon, I am SERIOUSLY counting down the hours and eventually the minutes until The Barbarian walks through the door. Knowing the calvary is not coming to relieve you changes everything. It takes some major mental focus and power to push through the point at which you are normally ready to run as fast as humanly possible out the front door as your horde of wee folk assault your husband arriving through the back door, and hope no one notices and comes looking for you. And your reward for pushing through this point? The most challenging part of day--dinner and bedtime--to be performed solo. Solo, and seriously outnumbered. THEN, you get to wake up and do it all over again. Several times in a row.


Oh! AND we're currently in the throes of night-weaning! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!! I mean, that affords me extra props for handling this as well as I did, right? Because, man, you don't even want to know what our nights were like. Or at what time our days began. Let's just say none of it was ideal. In the SLIGHTEST. I'll leave the rest up to the imagination. (Hint: Imagine the worst...or at least, the really, really terrible--do it.)  

But by far the most gut-wrenching part of this week occurred the morning after The Barbarian's arrival, as The Goblin Queen, Daddy's Girl, worked through her very big, very deep feelings about having him gone for so long. She was SO torn over wanting him to hold her and clearly being extremely upset with him. There were lots and lots of tears (not just from her), and when she finally allowed him to cuddle her, she just melted into his shoulder and talked quietly to herself and to him for a few minutes as she tried to process it all. It was one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed in my life. It broke my heart. Very, very much so. I can't even imagine what it did to The Barbarian's.

So this is where we stand. It hit me the night of the second to last day that here I was steeling myself to just keep it together a little longer, to hang in there until the weekend, when he'd be home and we'd be back to our normal routine--yet we were just going to have to turn around and do it again. And again. And again. It really brought our new reality home, as you can imagine something all you want, but until you're in it, you really have no fucking clue.

But the only way to effectively handle it is to see it as a challenge, right? We've GOT this. Eventually, my husband will come home from a weeklong business trip and I'll be waiting in heels and pearls, perfectly coiffed, his slippers and drink in my hands, a smile on my face, the children quietly attending to puzzles in the corner, the expertly groomed dogs sitting statuesque beside the children, the smell of pot roast wafting from the oven...

You just wait.


  1. Oh Keri - YES. Been there so many times. And the pot roast and pearls did happen once or twice. Having a traveling husband it soooooo hard sometimes. But here is what I have to say to you: your mom, Holly, sister -- all those people are here. Let them help and thank the gods they are here both for the wee ones and for your adult sanity. Take advantage of their presence. Blessings to all of you!

    1. Thanks, mama!! Yes, we are beyond blessed to have so much support. I cannot imagine doing this without all of them! And without the support of our extended family, as well! :)