Beloved informed me this past week that he will only be gone three of the four weeks in May.
He is home for one week and two weekdays in April. He was home for two weeks in March, one of which was our vacation and the other of which his father died. He was home for no weeks in February. I wrote about it on BlogHer when I was really in the abyss, then the sun came out, and the time changed, and the days got longer, and the little angel started to play with the neighbor kids after school again and it seemed a little better.
It is better, but it's not. Yes, he's home on weekends, but when half the family unit is gone five out of seven days, the two days he's home becomes crammed with yard work and housecleaning and laundry and errands and thinking gosh, I really like this person and everything is better when he's home and oh, shit, he's leaving again tomorrow. It's nice to see him, but it doesn't make it all better to have him home on the weekends. And the worst part is that I don't really know when this will end. The little angel doesn't have childcare the week of BlogHer, and he doesn't know if he will be home or not. I throw my hands in the air like I don't care because I am so tired of thinking through all the scenarios and how I will address them on my own. (He would say it's not on my own, and he would sometimes be right, but sometimes he would be wrong, because only the person in the situation knows the myriad things that come up and must be dealt with over the course of the week, most of which I don't even tell him about because pfffft.)
My friends ask if this is normal for his job, but he's only had it for a little over a year. The first project only had him gone for one month, not this never-ending cycle of early Monday flights and late Thursday or Friday flights, of trying to squeeze in Facetime twenty minutes after I wished the little angel had already gone to bed, of trying to explain why he's gone again and remembering to do everything that needs to be done to keep the house running after a full day of my own job and sitting down with my novel at 10 pm and crying because I don't have the mental energy to do anything I want to do by 10 pm and there is no other time in my day because all the things take twice as long when there is one person doing them and that person doing them is also the person explaining to the ten-year-old why she can't have four desserts and how to convert things to the metric system.
I try to do little things to make up for him being gone on these weeks alone with my daughter. It sucks most for her. She adores her father and by the third night is always in tears over why he can't be there to put her to bed instead of me. So I try.
Yesterday, for instance, she asked me to make her pancakes. Wednesdays are late-start days at her school, so the bus comes an hour later than usual. I didn't know where the pancake mix was, so she showed it to me. I added the water. I found the skillet. I greased the skillet. I tried to remember what temperature the skillet should be at. Super hot sounded good to me. (queue ominous music)
The first pancake ended up in the sink after I couldn't flip it at all. I remembered you are supposed to flip them when they bubble, but my pancakes bubbled instantly. I ended up scorching a spatula trying to flip my bubbling masses of chocolate-chipped destruction.
On the third pancake, I turned down the temperature, but it was too late. I started using the scorched flipper plus a second flipper to try to get the burning even on both sides of the pancakes, adding extra chocolate chips because, you know, as long as there is enough chocolate involved, my kid will eat anything. I flung the unsalvagable pancakes in the sink or really just anywhere on the stove that was not white-hot because time was of essence. I could melt polar icecaps with these pancakes, but at least they weren't burning. At last I had a plate of four kind of normal-looking pancakes, which I served my daughter.
"Um, Mama? These aren't cooked in the middle."
"Well, yeah. Maybe I should microwave them."
"I'm not very good at pancakes, am I?"
"Maybe we should leave that to Daddy."
Oh, well. I'm trying.