Tag Archives: work/life balance

Kiss me and smile for me

Long-time readers – which means anyone who has been here longer than three weeks – will recall that we moved here from Los Angeles in order to slow our lives down and find some peace.  My husband was travelling constantly, the kids didn’t see him, he was exhausted, and I was stressed.  J found a new job in a new place.

Surprisingly, it has worked.  My husband is home for dinner.  In the mornings, we take turns working out.  He is a present father and a happier man.  I am getting a little time to work, and the children are clearly feeling more secure, despite the stress of moving.

Unfortunately, J did have three week-long business trips over the course of May and June.  That’s it for the summer, which is a drastic improvement over the days when he was gone five days a week.

Zach has never been particularly fazed by his father’s travel.  He misses his father, but he has always invested most of his emotional capital into me.  Both boys grew up with Daddy travelling constantly, and Zach’s response has been to simply rely on Mommy.

Benjamin’s response has always been to fall apart.  Which he did continually back when J travelled all the time.

These three trips have been so hard on Ben, who feels things deeply. He refuses to talk to his father on the phone.  He hits me.  He gets out of bed at night, looking for reassurance.  I can’t get him back to sleep.  After two nights of this, I equipped him with a picture of his father to sleep with.

I try to keep my temper, but his emotional outbursts are very difficult to deal with, and it doesn’t help that I’m constantly changing sheets because Daddy’s absence seems to equal bedwetting.

Last night, putting him to bed, I stroked his hair.  “Do you think you can be a good boy for me and try to settle down nicely tonight?”  Translation: please don’t flail about, kick the wall, throw things at your sister, and play with the blinds.  To be honest, he does those things when his father is not travelling, as well.

“I know you miss Daddy,” I told him.  “I miss Daddy, too.”  He lay there silently, but after a minute, I saw a very quiet tear coming down his almost-four-year-old nose.

“Oh, sweetie, are you crying?”  He nodded and then the tears started coming faster.  “Baby, he misses you so much too.  He looks at pictures of you all the time and wants to be here with you.  He’ll be back in a few more days, and then he won’t have any more trips for a long time.”  At this point, the child was openly weeping, head in pillow, sobbing for his Daddy.

I sat there for a time, stroking Ben’s head, until he slowed down.  “Where’s my little flashlight?” he asked.

I found the flashlight on the dresser and handed it to him.  “Just please don’t flash it in Lilah’s eyes, OK?”

He nodded, slid his giraffie blankie in his mouth, and then rolled over to fall asleep, holding the flashlight in one hand and the picture of his father in the other.


For a very long time, my husband has been working too hard.  He travels every week.  He schedules vacations and then works right through them.  He doesn’t get to see his kids during the week.  He has no set schedule and no set location, so he cannot get on an exercise routine, sleep regular hours, or eat right.

Oh, sure, there was always a reason – he needed to sell work or he had sold work and now he needed to deliver on it.  I staged an intervention in March.  “Look,” I said, “if the job really requires this kind of life, then the job sucks.”  That’s the supportive wife in me talking there.

From that conversation came the realization that, hey, he could actually look for a new job.  One that would allow him to work, say, sixty hours a week and travel only 25% of the time.  It’s not like we were asking for a sinecure; we just thought that perhaps his body deserved a chance to figure out which time zone it is in.

He began looking for a job.  Two weeks ago he was offered a very good one.  So, we are moving.

This job will allow us to live someplace with a lower cost of living that is closer to family.  We will be leaving Los Angeles, which has been a completely unpleasant place to live.  And J will be home three weeks out of the month.  The children will *gasp* see their father on a daily basis.  The funny thing about it is that we had lived the other way for so long, we just didn’t realize how untenable the situation was until another way of doing things presented itself.

The truck comes on Monday to take our stuff away, and then I will spend a few lovely days in an empty house with the kids.  On Saturday, we’ll all fly east to stay with family until our stuff catches up with us around Thanksgiving.  The move is happening very quickly in part because the company would like my husband to start but also because Zachary has been quite unhappy in school this year.  We’re not sure what the problem is, but if we’re transitioning him out anyway, we may as well do it quickly.

There are a few really sad byproducts.  Zachary will need to start over as a white belt in a new karate studio.  Lilah will leave behind all that fresh fruit she so adores.  And poor Benjamin will leave the teachers who rock his world.  But there will be teachers in the next place, too.  And we will leave W, who is a remarkably good friend.  Leaving her is very sad, but I am grateful we got a chance to reconnect.

So, if you don’t hear from me over the next couple of weeks, do not worry.  I am on my way to a better place.