Thursday, February 21, 2013

5 Things About My Husband Traveling All the Time

My husband (the adorable and long-suffering Cap'n Coupon) has had to travel a lot for his job recently. Since New Years, it feels like he's been gone as much as he's been home. It's been here a week, gone a week. Adjusting to this has been a challenge that I have not loved. The kids love it even less.

Ultimately, I realize that it's not a big deal. Here is a list of things I like to think about to remind myself to shut the hell up:



  • He's gone because he has a job and it's one that he really likes (super lucky and grateful for both of those things).
  • He's only gone a week (or so) at a time (more than 2 weeks and I might need medication. Or a nanny). 
  • This is every day for single moms (So hats off to you, ladies. I understand the perfectly natural urge to punch me in the face right now for complaining).
  • He's not deployed or in harm's way (awkwardly long hug of gratitude to all military families. Ditto on the face punching). 
  • Some things (dinner) are easier when he's not home (hello mac 'n' cheese movie night).
  • Leg shaving? (That's adorable. It's winter and he's gone).
  • Crappy TV? (Oh even yesser. Bravo and HGTV it is.)
  • Slacking off on chores and an overall lessening of standards? (YES. I give myself permission to focus on the kids when it's just me.)
That's pretty much the end of my list. I keep needing to look at it because today is kicking my britches. Right now I have 2 sick kids and I'm coming off a three day weekend. The weekends are the worst. They are sooooo long. And I got no work done for work so now there's that. Another area of my life where I'm behind and playing ineffective catch up.

The truth is, when he's here - it's great. When he's gone - it's meh. We miss him so much, but it's becoming manageable. 

The hard part for me is about to happen. It's the transitions. My kids don't do transitions well. I don't like them so much myself. The day before he leaves and the two days after he gets back are pretty rough. So his coming back tonight is awesome! But ironically it also adds more stress, even though we are all so happy and excited. Here are five reasons why.

Everything should be perfect when he walks in the door.
When he gets home, I want everything to be just right. I want him to walk in and see that everything was managed beautifully in his absence and give me a big high five for my awesomeness. However, I'm usually close to a nervous breakdown by the time he pulls in the driveway. Largely this is due to making myself crazy trying to live up to this ridiculous notion. And I let things go slack when he's gone. Then I go batsh*t trying to get it all back together in the four hours before he gets home. It's so stupid, because when he's here - things are always chaos. If he walked into my version of the ideal, I'm pretty sure he'd think he had the wrong house. 

The reunion with his kids should be a beautiful moment. 
Ideally, the kids would be happy, clean, calm and waiting by the door to great their dad. Maybe they'd each have a card or picture for him, too. Instead, he will be greeted by two of his three offspring trying to kiss him with viscous, green snail trails and hacking coughs. One of them will probably fall asleep two minutes before he arrives and if I can wake her up, there will be scream-crying. One of them will say hi and go back to playing DS. One will probably attack him with love before he sets foot in the house, but then may not leave his side again, even to let him pee. At least one kid will be passive-aggressively angry/cold/withdrawn from their dad because they have trouble dealing with his travel schedule. That part is the worst.

I want him to be thrilled to see me. 
I would love to wrap my arms around his neck and get a smooch so big that it embarrasses our kids. But... I usually have child-related crud smeared on me and I'm gross from all the last minute cleaning, the dog will wiggle in between us and the kids will probably be screaming. I also have this idea that I should be thinner/prettier/kinder/better than he remembered me before he left. However, I'm exactly the same person (except for possibly being more tired and less patient than usual).

I want the house to be clean. 
It's a disaster. If I started cleaning, de-cluttering and wiping right now it might be done by 9pm when he walks in the door. But that's never going to happen (sick kids, work deadlines, the need to feed hungry humans, etc). I also really wanted the laundry done so our bedroom would be a comfortable, relaxing space. Instead it's covered in piles of dirty towels and baskets of clean stuff I still need to fold.

I want to push the restart button. Badly.
I'm exhausted and desperate for a break. I need someone to manage things for me for one day so I can catch up on sleep, get my schmidt together and start over with a good attitude. My husband will arrive home  exhausted and desperate for a break. He will need someone to manage things for him for one day so he can catch up on sleep, get his schmidt together and start over with a good attitude. It's time for some Alanis Moist Towelette-style irony because neither of us are going to get what we want.

I think I'm just going to accept that the next few days will be an enormous cluster. When he gets home tonight, I'm going to make sure he has a hot meal and a cold beer waiting for him. I'm going to tell him how much I love him and how much we all missed him. I'm going to kiss him and hug him and then... I'm going to bed. 


(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013

39 comments:

  1. Wow. First of all, you are not alone. I could have written that post. My husband and I live in two different countries (I have the children) AND he travels for blocks of one to three weeks at a time. I can count the number of days we have spent together so far this year in fourteen languages (which means, like, less than 10). But, he loves his job, he's not in danger, and we're doing fine ... so, no complaints. Except, you know, it kind of sucks.

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  2. While my hubby doesn't travel, he does have a demanding work schedule that can keep him out of the house from before the kids wake up 'til after they're in bed. After consecutive days of this, I can feel a bit spinny.

    I think that despite our need to prove that we can do it all and still wear heels to our better half, sometimes we just need to admit (our loud) that hey, it's really freakin' hard to do this without you. And like you, Lydia, I so often give silent props to the single moms out there. You ladies kick ass in so many ways.

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  3. I totally relate! When my husband traveled for work I found myself relaxing with the house, dishes, dinner, etc. Its almost like a vacation.

    When he comes home I make sure the house is clean and everything is back together again.

    I secretly like the break, though.

    www.MommaCandy.com

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  4. I can relate but for this week only. My hubby doesn't travel for work, so I guess I should consider myself lucky, but he has been gone since Sunday and is returning today. I did enjoy a little time to my self, to be on the computer all night and watch whatever I want on tv. But I feel like I did more work then usual while he was gone. I did way more cleaning to make sure the place looked good when he got home. I did ALL the laundry- partly because I wanted to have all his work stuff done for when he got home and party because I know he is carrying 2 loads with him, so I will have plenty to do. I am very excited to see him but I am also very excited to have a break from the kids. I need to go to the gym!!!

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  5. Every single thing in this entire post is SO TRUE. Oh my Lord, yes. Times a million!!

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  6. My husband has always traveled for work. At first it was just gone for 48 hours, home for 8--12---and most of that was sleep. That was really hard. Especially, since I had a full time office job. It meant I might only get to see him for 5 waking hours a week. And that includes weekends. We didn't have any young kids at the time. My stepkids were teenagers...and thank goodness they loved and respected me. It made disciplining them easier. Not easy, but easier. They knew my word was dad's word.

    His position now requires him to travel 2--3 weeks out of a month, but he's home for weekends, so I'm thankful for that. I'm a stay-at-home mom now and we have an 8 year-old. (The stepchildren are now in their mid-20's and managing their own families in their own households.) Luckily, I enjoy my alone time and the kid has never known anything different than this. But I'd be lying if I said I liked it. But, he's not deployed. He's not in danger. And he has a job that he is good at and enjoys. And I'd still be lying if I said I liked it.

    Using an electric blanket to get the bed warm rather than having him in it stinks. While kid food is easier, I enjoy cooking for him. Seeing him just long enough to make sure all his laundry is done is less than romantic. And the house. We won't even talk about the house.

    Which reminds me. If he doesn't get snowed in tonight, he should be home tomorrow morning. I should probably vacuum, defrost some non-nugget food, and wash the dog so the house doesn't smell like a den of Frito-eating weasels.

    Hugs to you and your travelling Cap'n.

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  7. Yeah. Sorry. I can't relate at all. Consider yourself face-punched. "Two weeks and you might need medication and a nanny." Wow. I suppose everyone has their own level of tolerance and I applaud you for letting us know what your level is, while at the same time still allowing some of us to roll our eyes (and face-punch you). Make no mistake ... I love my life. I would not give it up for anything. I love all the challenges and craziness that comes with it. And I really, really love my husband. But as of this Saturday, it will be eight months since I've seen my husband. Eight months. He's on an extended field trip to Afghanistan. The kind without the cool juice boxes in his lunch bag. He can't Skype everyday ... he can barely Skype twice a month. R&R isn't scheduled until the end of March (so that will be nine months). And after R&R? Three more months before he's home for good. This is our 7th field trip. I am not complaining. I am not looking for "you knew what you were getting into when you married him" (which actually is not true. I married him 20 years ago, 9 years before 9/11 ... there is no possible way to prepare a military family for everything that came after that day). I'm not even looking for sympathy. Just putting it out there that I get to watch anything I want on TV, hog the covers, keep the thermostat at whatever setting I choose, eat what I want, go to the gym every single day (without having to worry about anyone's schedule), do (or not do) laundry anytime I want, clean (or not clean) when I want, no loud belching and farting (although oldest son has begun to take over this job), etc. for an entire year. YAY ME! ;) Of course the flip side of that ..... And I can assure you, the reunion moments are not all beautiful, the house is not always perfect, and sometimes reintegration is really tough. But boy-oh-boy, it is all worth it when he steps off that plane!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your service and sacrifices and praying for his safe return!

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    2. You know, this kind of thing bothers me. I get it, to an extent, because it *is* frustrating to have people complaining they miss their husbands (and, when my dad or step-dad were deployed, fathers) during a short trip. I've heard of Army wives complain because their husbands had a three-day FTX. By the same tack, though, just because our husbands are deployed for extended periods of time does not mean we get the ONLY right to bitch.

      If you're going by that idea, it seems like "Ok, well, I've had something worse happen so you have no right to complain. Ever." So, we would have no right to complain because at least we got to SEE our spouses during those 9-12 months, unlike those who's loved ones served in the 1990's. Our husbands weren't sent back early because of serious injury, or worse, so we can't complain about not seeing them. Etc.

      Just because you are 'used' to your husband being deployed (as much as anyone can be, because it comes with its own set of challenges every time) doesn't mean someone who's husband travels a few days or weeks a month on business has no right to complain.Every life has its own set of challenges, and every person handles them differently.

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    3. I agree with Tiff (and not just because my name is also Tiff!). My 2 little points - I did not sign up for this, if you married someone in the military you did sign up for this kind of life. I broke up with my boyfriend in college cause he was in the Navy and I didn't want that life for my family. I never thought I would be raising an entire family on my own every other week of my life when my husband took the job he did the same year our first baby was born! And there is also no end point, no going higher up in the ranks which would mean no more travel, or early retirement. Even if my husband makes VP of his company - they still travel. So I can't even grin and bear it knowing this is short lived. Secondly, and lastly, us women left behind with traveling husbands don't have the support group that most military wives do and I am very jealous of that. I know not all military families live totally surrounded by other military families but it is more likely you have someone else to relate to you rather than most of us whos husbands just travel for their jobs. I don't know many men that could do what we women do - so whether our husband travels for work or for military - YAY US!

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  8. I like your reasons why you are not upset he is gone because I feel the same way. But I do LOVE the weekends when my kids are home or anytime at all they get a break from school. The traveling is actually harder on my husband than it is for us. I have a 7 and 8 year old and we are so busy that we go on with our routine and it's not any harder or easier when he is here, just different. I am not worried about the house being a mess. If he is gone more than a week I think it awesome I managed to get the laundry somewhat done. I am lucky to have the best husband ever that keeps us all in clean clothes.

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  9. I so feel the urge for the house to be perfect when my hubby returns. It is exhausting!

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  10. Brava! I feel like such a wuss in comparison. We have one kid - one! - and I have become a complainypants because my husband's work and extracurriculars are kicking us in the balls this month. I'm doing 90% of the childcare (while working) and have solo parented every weekend this month -- except for the blessed Nemo weekend which resulted in one of his 2-day-long extracurriculars getting canceled. I should definitely consider myself lucky for all the reasons you mention...and also because when he IS home, he is spectacular at doing most of the non-childcare chores and generally tending to me/us. And, like I said, we only have ONE CHILD. My god, what will I do if/when there are more? Props to single parents everywhere!

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    1. Totally in your shoes. While I do not compare my situation to military families at all - kudos and hugs to them. It's still hard. My hubby helps his mom on their farm 5 hours away one or two weekends a month and while I would never tell him he couldn't, he doesn't seem to get all the work I do by myself while he's gone. And hardest is our 2 yr old is starting to notice he's gone and doesn't sleep those weekends... at all

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  11. My husband just took a job where he does have to travel - he's gone for 3 nights at a time, but only every few weeks. I kind of gave up on the wanting the house to be clean when he comes home because - let's get real - whenever I go away the house is a wreck when I come home. Because I am not around to pick up the socks / sweep up the dog hair / wipe down the counters. I don't exactly mind when he's gone though. I think it gives both of us some needed space.

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  12. My husband travels for work too. I can relate to everything here. It makes me feel better that my life is "normal" and the idealized version that I am trying to live up to is unrealistic and most moms are just tying to keep it together-just like me. I guess my project of painting the living room to surprise my husband when he gets home was a bit over ambitious, he will just have to come home to a taped up partially painted room.

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  13. My husband and I lived on opposite sides of the state for a few months when he lost his job and had to move to find work and I was stuck at the house with my job until they finally opened the new center near where he was working. We switched off weeks with our baby, with someone (usually me) driving the four hours every Friday and Sunday. On my weeks with the baby things around the house would often go by the wayside so I could spend as much time playing with her as I could. I'd make up for it by cleaning and organizing the week I was alone. But about once a month my husband would be the one to travel, and I'd be scrambling to get everything presentable before he arrived if it was at the end of my baby week. I only had the one baby so it wasn't horrible, but it was during the time when she was still getting up in the middle of the night for a feeding, so it kind of stunk the weeks I wasn't getting enough sleep and still trying to keep up with my room full of toddlers at work, but I reminded myself it was only every other week, and I would soon get "my" week, which involved being able to cook.whatever I wanted, listen to music with cuss words, and head to a bar with friends after work, which was almost enough to make up for missing my baby like crazy.

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  14. Amen!!! My husband just got back from 8 days working in the Aleutian Islands. What is it with those transitions?!?!?!?

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  15. I can also relate, my husband is out of the house from 8 15 til 6 30 and he also is back in school and has a heavy course load. He has 30 hours of home work a week. It's been like this for three years and we have a three year old and a one year old. He has one and a half more years to go unless he decides to get s masters. In which case three more years of this anarchy. Most days the children see him for an hour and a half. Sometimes my older son will not see him for a whole day even though we all live together. I try so hard to get things nice by Friday so we can have some kind of family time and it never works and Monday always finds me even farther behind.

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  16. Ditto. My dh travels a fair bit, though he's not terribly satisfied with his job. So he's grateful to have it, but it stresses him out. Then there's my end of the disaster, where I relax and let the kids eat oatmeal for dinner (hey, they ask for it) and I eat whatever I can scrounge. I also don't sleep well when he's gone, so on top of being "on" all the time, I'm more tired than usual, therefore much less patient. *sigh* It's better than the alternatives, but it sure is tough sometimes.

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  17. Props to all military families and single parents... I mean Wow, I literally bow down to you. Because I have a travelling hubby too and he leaves for ten days at a time and I just about go stark raving mad! However, I know in my heart of hearts that if it was required of me - I would step up and survive if it was worse. If he was gone for a year at a time my tolerance level would rise and I'd meet the challenge (not gracefully mind you... but it would be met all the same). Because that's what this Mommy gig is all about it, isn't it? Patience beyond understanding, Energy beyond exhaustion, Love beyond comprehension.... and sometimes just rolling up your sleeves and slogging it through as best you can! So keep slogging everyone - we CAN do this, simply because we have to and that's actually just enough to see us through!

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  18. Oh! Weekends without husbands ARE the worst! My husband took a job in rural Alaska last year, and for six months (while we waited for family housing) I had to parent our brand-new six week old as well as our three-year-old twins on my own. During the week I was alright. I could have playdates and not notice his absence too much (with enough "bad" TV- Hi Teen Mom on MTV!), but on the weekends, all my friends were having "family time" and I was counting down the hours to Monday morning.
    The nice thing about single parenting for six months is that I am really (really!) appreciative of having my co-parent and partner back!!!

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  19. OMG....this was me last Friday! Only, I work full time...an hour away from home. Kid 1 had to stay home because of a fever. So we did the normal 5:30 am wake up call wrangled the kids out the door to the sitters by 7 am. Only Kid 1 is going to the office with me to pick up my computer and some files so I can work. (Did I mention I REALLY wish the sitter had called and said kid 1 was looking a bit peckish - lesson learned. ALWAYS bring your computer and a few files home when the hubby is traveling). So after 2 wasted hours of driving, and a chaotic hour of gathering files, conveying important work messages, etc we make it back home.

    Yep that is nuggets for lunch sitting on the couch watching Cars! I go shovel the driveway. Thankfully it isn't like last week when the snow was 5000 lbs/sq in! We make it through the day and kid 2 is home and I realize that we need to eat dinner. You betcha round 2 of nuggets. I did serve corn or peas with them so thats ok, right?

    I get the kiddos into bed, do dishes, straighten the house, clean the bathrooms (I really want to enjoy the weekend and not clean bathrooms). I think about sorting laundry and that is when I realize the sore muscles in my neck/back are ON FIRE. I would rather give birth 10 times with NO drugs than deal with this pain. I assume I did something while wrangling a squirmy kid into the bathtub or hurt myself shoveling (they've been sore-ish for about 2 weeks but this is a new brand of pain). Hubby is supposed to get home about 11 pm. He texts...flight it delayed...at least an hour.

    I think he got in about 2 am at which time he asks me to roll back onto my side of the bed...only I can't. Physically crying can't move. Hubby helps me to the couch which is where I slept partially reclined.

    I did let hubby sleep in until 8:30 the next morning...at which time I told him I MUST go see a doctor. There I was given valium, instructions to not lift or carry anything and take it easy for the next 4 days.

    It took me 4 days with Valium to recover from my husband going on a 3 day business trip! Military spouses and single parents....I cannot emphasize enough how you are the MOST AMAZING parents around!

    About

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  20. What a great post! I can really relate. It was so hard when my husband traveled and the kids were little. The days were so looooong! Now it's more about watching trash tv and wishing he'd take the dog with him.

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  21. We're military and our longest time apart was 38 months. I saw him for a couple weeks every 6 months or so, but I raised our first son alone basically. You would think I'd be a pro at living without him, but I'm worse at it now! That 3 year stretch felt easier than when he leaves for 2 or 3 days. I'm so used to having him around now, I've come to depend on having him to "tag" when I need a break. I figured it out though. Anything less than 3 months is excruciatingly long and painful, but after that it's just like nothing gets better or worse so you get used to it, you've settled in and it all works. Murphy's Law stops taking juicy bites out of your day.

    Now I struggle with him having to work 14hr days lol. It's all about adaptability and you can't adapt in just a week. I don't feel like punching you in the face at all, but while he was gone... I might have... sexual deprivation does that to any person (hahaha). I think it's normal to miss someone, no matter how long they've been gone. It's good to see what you're capable of (for yourself and your kids). And nothing can beat the welcome home. There are no words to describe the feeling of relief and joy we experienced when I finally got to get him for the airport "for good".

    I love all your bullets because they're so very very true. I think of single parents, going it alone and I place these people on a pedestal... a very high one. I make it a point to take their kids and give them breaks when I can. Your kids sound exactly like mine. Bring them on over and they can play nicely for an hour and then fight each other like siblings and destroy the playroom in the basement (complete with door). We'll drink coffee and play cards against humanity ;) I live in the country and it's supposed to be nice out this weekend. We could also set them loose in the woods! :D hahaha.

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    1. amazing response! You put what I wanted to say into words with the history to back them. I've never been more that 3 days without telephone contact with my Husband, and no more than four without seeing him... and those times I just cried and cried, I know I could do longer if needed, and you're right, it gets better as time goes on, but I just miss him more than anything. It's what you get use to that makes us complain, not upwardly or downwardly comparing to others. They can be superstars, but they're not you we each handle things differently, and me? I miss my BFF more then I can say when he's gone, even going to work alone can kill me somedays, when I just want to be with him. People often claim we're still in "young love" but after 15 years as friends, I think maybe it's more of just who we are. :) Love the post... as always, but loved this comment more!

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  22. I'm a single mom, but I don't want to punch you in the face! Anything that includes transitions and straying from the norm, and that creates more work for us, especially with kids, is sucky. If a man (whom my daughter and I both know and love, hypothetically) moved in with me, there are times I'd go bat crap crazy after a few days and black-out rage for him to get out of my space. While being a single mom isn't always ideal and it is hard (what kind of mommyhood isn't hard sometimes?), there are parts of it that I actually like. We're all thrown curveballs and we're all doing the best we can, and we all have situations that aren't ideal but we get through it thanks to our friends and our boxed wine. I just try to remind myself that even when things seem like a clusterjunk at the moment, these are the times I'll look back on and remember fondly, and be proud that my family dealt with it, made good memories, and came out the other side needing minimal amounts of therapy :)

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  23. Another mil-spouse here. I think you hit it on the head with this post. Thank you Lydia!!

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  24. Ok, so, I know a lot of people have already told you they indeed wanted to punch you in the face, so I will not threaten you physically or anything, but I wanted to share this. My best friend is a mother of 3 boys. She is an AMAZING mother and I am astounded by her every day. The boys are 10, 7, and 4. When she was 8 months pregnant with number 3 her husband was killed in a car accident. She has been on her own completely ever since. She lives in AZ and I am in CT. Her family is in OK. She is Mormon so dating is not taken lightly so she has not even done much of that.
    I am not writing this to make you feel bad or anything. I mean this more as an inspiration for you and for all the other women who have husbands who travel, are deployed, or who, like me, are divorced. If she can do it and not totally lose her schmidt every day (though she often comes close) then we can all deal with our husbands' temporary absences, no matter how long or short.

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  25. Bottom line... being a Mom is tough. Whether you are single mom, work at home mom, full time job outside the home mom, whatever. Husband travels, husband unemployed, doesn't matter. It's hard. And we need to stand by each other and not judge each other. Most moms are just doing the best they can and getting through each day and each crisis as best they can. We all have different ways of raising our kids and different ways of handling stress.

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  26. I live in GA and my hubby is in DC Sunday night until Friday night. It's an 18 month gig. We have a three year old and while we all miss each other, we have gotten used to the routine. We FaceTime all the time and luckily, I have a great family support system nearby. My hat does go off to the single moms out there. I do like that my daughter and I have a relaxed week, and I can watch all the Downton Abbey and Real Housewives I want...with ZERO guilt. :)

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  27. Ok ... I'm stuck in the no-woman's land of being a TRUCKER'S wife. My husband is gone 4 - 6 days per week EVERY WEEK. We've been married for 7 years now and it's been this way since before we got married. Our son is 6 AND I'm dealing with multiple health issues that have me JUST able to get up to get the IHP off to school before I set the alarm so I can be up to get him off the bus and go back to bed. We live in Bum*bleep*nowhere so town is 15 - 20 minutes drive (at 55 mph) away and my next-door neighbor (ok, next-behind-door-share the driveway neighbor) is my Mother In Law which doesn't suck as badly as it sounds. It also isn't as awesome as it sounds since she's been known to be Judgy McJudgerson.

    But I don't want to punch you in the face. It has to be a much bigger adjustment for you than it ever was for me or my son. This is ALL he's known and it's the way the marriage has been from the beginning. I also grew up in the AF during Vietnam and my dad was in the missile silos (2 miles underground for 2 weeks at a time). So I can kind of relate to the military spouses who are dealing with deployments. It is what it is.

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  28. Just wanted to make you aware that a fake blogger has stolen this post -almost word for word. All of her photos and content is stolen

    http://oliverkids.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/5-things-about-my-husband-traveling-all-the-time/

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    1. OH MY GOD. This woman has ripped off a ton of my stuff and is passing it off as her own. This is seriously creepy. She even calls her husband "Cap'n Coupon". Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

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    2. Lydia,

      you have a stalker? Creepy....

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    3. This site mysteriously disappeared a couple of days after I got this comment.

      Delete
  29. I hate that my husband travels for work. His now taking a new job with more traveling and I don't know if can handle this. He goes to work but then after he likes to go out for dinner with his famale coworkers. He says its just work but makes me feel really uncomfortable. I stay home, go to work and he parties like a rock star when his away on business trips but nooooo he calls "networking.

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  30. Great post! Thanks for sharing this. Im so interested in topics related toAll Points Airport Service

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  31. Thanks for this. Hubby about to take a job traveling 5-6 days at a time and needed the perspective.

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