My precious offspring,

Daddy’s work requires him to travel quite a bit, and usually for around a week at a time.  You know this well – it’s been happening your whole childhood.  But I’ve decided that now it’s time for me to be straight with you about how things work when Daddy’s traveling:

I Will Not Cook

My culinary exploits will end at boxed mac-and-cheese (after you two argue in deciding which shape I’ll make:  Shells? Bunnies?  Bugs?  Apparently, it doesn’t matter that they all taste the same).  Because, let’s face it – while I always serve you the same dinners that Daddy and I eat, you eat about ¼ a normal portion.  When he’s gone, I will not be wasting my time and energy cooking and cleaning up just to have you barely eat.  So, fast food it is.

And when I start feeling guilty that you’re eating out so much, we’ll order Jimmy John’s.

You May Be Bathed Less

Let’s face it – you’re just going to turn around and get dirty again tomorrow.  Sometimes, after a long day of mothering, followed by an evening with no spousal reprieve, even the thought of getting you ready for bed is too exhausting to face, let alone the idea of giving you baths.  The filling, the bubbling, the lathering, the rinsing – sure, it sounds easy enough, but it’s really too much for my frayed nerves and weary body to face.

So, let’s just wipe the dirt off you with a wet wipe and call it a done deal.

You Will Watch More TV

After a long day of good moments with you, mixed in with those moments when I gritted my teeth as I was told exactly how to play with the Barbie doll because apparently all my own ideas suck, and those other moments when I fake laughed at the same bad joke you’ve been telling all day, I just need a moment.  A moment to breathe (“breathe” = delve into Facebook for interaction with fellow adults).  So you will watch tv at parts of your day when you normally don’t.

And when your show finishes and you ask for another one, I’ll fake hesitation as I’m already pushing the remote buttons to obtain 30 more minutes of Momma Downtime.

I May Go Numb

There may be times that you ask me a question or you are arguing with each other, and I appear to be completely devoid of any reaction.  This is because I’ve gone numb.  Your endless bickering, your constant needs (you need me to do so much for you, it’s like you’re a child or something), your continual draining of my sanity has made me utilize the mental defense mechanism of numbness.  Don’t worry!  I’ll check back in with reality in a moment or two.  But just know that, in these moments of numbness, anything goes, because I don’t care.  I have stopped all forms of caring.  You can argue with each other and I won’t care.  You can ask for candy and I’ll say, “Why not?!”  You can bring any piece of nature into the house and I’ll shrug and say, “Eh, it’ll get cleaned up eventually.”

If you’re smart, you will use these moments of complete and utter numbness to your advantage.

I Will Gain Poundage

Sure, part of my Daddy’s Traveling Weight Gain will be because I can’t go for my morning runs with him gone, unless I want to risk being charged with child neglect for leaving you sleeping in the house by yourselves.  But, mostly, it’ll be because I’ve been eating my way to good parenting.  Let me explain.  You will get on my nerves.  And we all know that nerves are soothed by chocolate (I think it’s scientific… search the web – someone probably has produced a study saying this is true).  So, I will be sneaking my own moments of choco-happiness throughout the day.  And after you go to bed?  Woah, buddy!  That’s when the in-home candy store opens up, my children!  Woo wee!!

(This written enthusiasm is brought to you courtesy of the chocolate bars we bought to make s’mores this weekend).

I Will Be Absolutely Unproductive

When Daddy is traveling, I go into what I call “Babysitter Mode.”  See, babysitters are more fun than moms because they aren’t doing chores while they’re spending time with you.  And, to counter the annoying times we have together in Daddy’s absence, I want there to be really fun times, too.  Which means I won’t be distracting myself with tasks that I actually should be doing.  Laundry?  Not this week.  Picking up the house?  Ha!!  Taking care of household business, like bills and such?  Uh, no.  I’ll be so unproductive that you’ll be lucky if I even get your fish fed.

So, see?  I may be in Numb Mode sometimes but, by golly, the other times I’m fully in the moment! (sorry about your undies drawer being empty – we’ll go buy some).

All in All, I Do Treasure These Times

I love the time that we get to spend together when Daddy’s gone, because we always end up making some precious memories, going on some new expedition, playing without care, and just making the most of each day.  And I know that you love our “Just Us” times, too… until Daddy comes home and whitewashes your memory the moment he opens up his carry-on to pull out the souvenirs he bought you.

No, no… don’t worry about me… just continue hugging Daddy and giving him the hero’s welcome… I’ll just be over here cleaning up a whole week’s worth of toys being spewed all over the house.  And where’s that laundry basket?….