Usually the anticipation is worse.
When Dan tells me about an upcoming trip, and I mark it in my calendar, I stare it down, stare it down like a barrel of a gun. The week could go fine. Or it could be loaded with tantrums and meltdowns and I end up sitting with my back pressed against the bathroom door, shoveling in Cheez Its while the kids bang their fists against the door.
I flew solo this week. And each time I fly solo I think about all those women (and men, but I’m not a dad so I can’t speak to what that feels like), all those women with husbands deployed, spouses who work from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and miss dinner each night, partners who travel each week, a necessary evil of a job that supports the family, leaving the other to do the heavy lifting at home.
With the baby strapped to me in the Ergo and Kate at my elbow, I lugged three bags of groceries to my car and went through how I’d get the kids in, not let the dogs out, get the groceries in and keep screaming to a minimum as I got at least the frozen stuff into the freezer. Appeasements are made. The dogs are walked. Two grilled cheese sandwiches served. Kids into the tub, kids out of the tub. Full body meltdowns when I dare select the wrong princess panties. More appeasements are made. I pull the kids into my lap, Kate’s wet hair sticking to my bathrobe, and I read Pinkalicious, but I hardly have to read the words, reciting most of it from memory.
As I put my own self to bed, I wondered how I got through the day, how women get through the day. Alone.
They just do. They just put one foot in front of the other. And keep marching on just like all those women before them and all those women who will come after.