As I write this, I’m sitting in a crowded terminal of the Atlanta Hartsfield International airport, winded and tired from the 3-hour drive, one rental car, a short airport train ride and a walk through the busiest airport in the world.
It’s the second airport I’ve been in today, yet I haven’t actually flown anywhere. Alas, two traffic jams and one very congested interstate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, can divert the best of plans. I’m just hoping that I arrive at my destination — a work conference in Vermont — in one piece.
It’s the first time that I’ve left my husband at home with all three kids overnight. Sure, there’s been a single night here or there where I’ve had to be away. But never since we had our third child.
As parents of multiple children know, one child is easy. Tackling two on your own can be a challenge, but you’ve got two hands and two kids. Chasing after three is seemingly impossible on your own at times, especially when two are 5 and younger.
As I tucked my son into his bed last night and kissed him on his head, I tried to explain that Mommy is going on a trip for a few days, and that I would be back as soon as I could.
“But who is going to take care of us?” my blonde kindergartener questioned. I could hear the nervous crack in his voice.
“Daddy will be here with you,” I told him.
“Yeah, but who is going to help him?” he asked.
“You are,” I told him, trying to be reassuring.
Parenting is hard — and even more so when you are doing it solo. I admire the single moms and dads out there who do it every day — I know from watching my own single mom, who raised me and my sister, what an effort it takes.
But I think my time away makes me appreciate my husband even more. Unlike the stereotypical dad of old, my husband does just as much, if not more than me. He’s the one who wakes the kids up in the mornings, gets the kids dressed and fed. He’s the one who does most of the grocery shopping and cooks dinner after work most evenings. He’s the one who takes time to share homework duties, helping coach our middle child with his sight words or helping out 7-year-old with her reading.
He’s the one who takes time at the end of our long day to play with our kids at the neighborhood playground,. He makes sure they are bathed and read to. He makes sure they get that extra hug and kiss and one extra book before bedtime.
Am I concerned about leaving home and being away from my kids for three days? Yes. But not for the reasons you might think. I know for a fact that my kids are just as well cared for in my absence. I know they’ll be safe and loved, and will be excited for my return.
Instead, I’m more worried about how I will do in their absence. Three days without three kids is like an eternity for most moms. I hope it goes by quickly — if I ever get there.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.