Solitary Motherhood

Warning: self pity party starting in 5,4,3,2,1…

It’s not what I signed up for, solitary motherhood, but here I am: alone and sick with two kids who have the day off school. I’ve been alone a lot for the past seven years. HRH used to have a job where he left at 8, walked ten minutes to work, and came home by 6. That is what I signed up for. I never dreamed he would have a sudden change in values and enslave himself to a work situation where he is never home while the children are awake and gone for at least two months every year. I doubt I would have agreed to have children with him and live in Japan if that had been the situation from the get-go.

I know I’m not the only one, solitary motherhood is the norm here. I saw a graph in the newspaper the other day: more than 30% of children in Japan spend less than 30 minutes a day (weekdays) with their fathers. 2/3 get less than an hour. My husband grew up that way, too. Back then, Saturday was a school/work day as well, so he spent even less time with his dad than my kids.

My dad was a preacher; we lived in the parsonage. Even when he was at work he was rarely out of walking distance. When I was very small, his office was actually in our house. I’m sure that was hard for my mom in some ways, but in other ways it must have been pretty convenient. We ate every meal together. Dad knew what was going on in our lives.

HRH? He’s got no clue. He doesn’t seem to care to have a clue. Even when he’s here, he’s not really here. He’s on his work computer, he’s on his iPod, he’s on the phone with work. I hate to think of what my kids are missing out on, yet in another way he is so inconsistent with the way he treats the children that I know it is probably actually better that they are almost exclusively in my care. And I’m pretty much b@tsh!t crazy, so that’s saying something.

On a day like today, though, when I woke up with my throat on fire and unable to speak, it would be nice to have another adult around. HRH will be coming home later today, and since he’s only been gone for four days I shouldn’t complain. Chances are he’ll come home wanting dinner and I’ll wish he wasn’t here. MIL has plans to go out, and since it didn’t occur to her to cancel them, in spite of my hints, I can’t really ask. That’s the difference between in-laws and your own family. My mom might say “no” too, but at least I could give her a guilt trip!

In times like this, Me First becomes the adult. He does it without being asked: cleared the breakfast table, changed his clothes, tried to change his sister’s clothes (she wouldn’t let him,) gave her some candy when she started whining and popped in a Hello Kitty video. I’m not thrilled with the candy, but I certainly won’t say anything about it.

I don’t know whether to be proud of Me First or sorry for him when he takes on the role of parent like that. Without his help, though, I don’t know what I would do.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 10:11:23

    Life with a workaholic is tough. I’ve found that in a relationship with kids, someone (generally the mom) has to take on the primary parent role. As you describe, it can be frustrating and lonely. And yet… the kids can bring so much unexpected joy. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply

  2. Rebecca Whitehead
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 10:17:05

    Good Luck. Just take one moment at a time. With deployments… I definitely know how you feel. Don’t you just want to go in your closet and cry sometimes?

    Reply

  3. chrysanthemummum
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 18:48:12

    I swear I could have written this post myself! I sympathise with you a lot here. My kids hardly ever see their father and he isn’t really here when he is at home either. Completely different routine to ours and he seems to want this to continue. For the first time in about a year we had a family day out the other day. Perhaps he was feeling guilty because he had just told me he will be working away during the Christmas and New Year break? Sigh…

    Hang in there.

    Reply

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