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My husband is gone a lot, but I am NOT a single mom

What I want to tell you most about having a husband who is gone a lot is this: It is harder on him than it is on me.

My husband is gone a lot, but I am NOT a single mom

The original essay by Brittany Velasquez can be found on the Military Moms Blog.

A well-meaning friend recently said to me, “I don't know how you do everything you do all alone. Your husband is gone so much that you are like a single mom!" My dear, sweet friend, I love you, and I know you were trying to compliment me. But, no, my life is nothing like that of a single mom. I am married to a wonderful, hard working man.

His struggles and sacrifices allow me to stay home with our kids while they are small.

At the end of a particularly frustrating day, I can call and talk to someone who gets it. A teammate. An equal. He offers me advice, we make decisions together, and we support each other.

Before he goes on short trips, he makes sure the lawn is mowed and the bills are all paid for the month so that I don't have to worry about them. Before he goes on longer trips, he ensures that my car is in good repair so that I have less likelihood of having problems while he is away, and he fixes any existing problems around the house.

What I want to tell you most about having a husband who is gone a lot is this: It is harder on him than it is on me.

I am here in my beautiful home with my beautiful children. Their small hands are holding mine, touching my face, and their smiles are lighting up my days. We are here together. We all miss my husband, but we still have each other.

My husband, however, is gone. He is alone and missing not only me, but also our three kids.

He goes days, weeks, and months without a hug from someone who loves him.

I am here for every ballet recital, every piano performance, every T-ball practice, every doctor's visit—every. single. thing. I get to experience it with them and celebrate their accomplishments immediately.

I know little details about our kids that my husband doesn't get a chance to know, because they are sometimes lost in our conversations. We have so much to catch up on when we talk that I tell him about how our daughter brought her failing math grade up to a B+, but I forget to mention that our 2-year-old had the funniest prayer intention at dinner, and that our middle son has met the girl he wants to marry in his kindergarten class.

Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed.

When a stomach virus hits and I have three kids taking turns throwing up in toilets and bowls and on floors, and then I get sick, too— that is not fun nor easy. It's a mess. But still, I am sad that my husband has to miss these moments.

When they are adults, they will remember that I was the one smoothing the hair from their face, taking their temperature, making them toast and pouring them watered down Gatorade as they recovered. They'll remember sleeping, curled up next to me, watching movies and feeling comfort.

It is the loss of these moments—the good and the bad everyday chances that I get to show my kids that they are loved—that I mourn for him.

I see my husband making the most of the moments he does have at home.

He rushes home when he is in town to try to arrive in time dinner.

He reads stories and helps with baths.

He cuts food into small squares and wrestles with our sons.

He listens to our daughter's stories and worries.

I notice that his eyes are exhausted, but I also see that his smile is filled with joy.

So many times, he has run into the room bursting with excitement to tell me something new that the baby did, but it isn't really new. The baby has been doing that for weeks. He just hadn't been able to see it.

There is no place he would rather be than here in our home helping with dishes and petting our dog and loving his family, yet sometimes he simply is not here.

I hope that my children know they are lucky to have their father who works tirelessly for them. I hope that when they are adults, each time they think of something fun or memorable we did together without my husband, they also think of his love as the reason it was possible. I am the one who is taking them to the water park, movies with friends, and out for ice cream on Tuesday nights in the summer.

But my husband is the reason I am able to make these memories. So, no, I am not like a single mom. Even though you meant it as a compliment, it was unfair to my husband.

He may be physically absent for long stretches from our life, but he is always available for emotional support. The truth is that I am here enjoying my children, but he is alone somewhere missing us. He is missing this elusive and slippery, yet all-important time, while our children are small.

To say I am a single mom discredits the hard work he puts in for his job and his country, and it overlooks the time he spends wishing he was home. Yes, he loves his job. But yes, he misses his family, too. That makes all the difference.

Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

We’re embracing off-season deals.

With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

Vacationing is a way to give back.

If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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