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Hot Mess Mom » Dear Diary, Family, Uncategorized » Everything that I never knew I wanted.

Everything that I never knew I wanted.


In 2004, when my husband began traveling extensively for work, my world was turned upside down.  With three sons under 4 years old, we had always shared the parenting responsibilities.  We both worked full time jobs and had scheduled our work hours accordingly.  I worked from 7am – 3pm while he took care of the children.  He worked from 3pm – 11pm while I did.  {Occasionally we even got to sleep!} Our offices were close to one another and we met every day to do the “hand off”.

My husband has always been a great dad.  Back then, he was also a great mom.   He had the day shift.  He made pancakes, changed diapers, got them all dressed and almost daily took them on an outing..  the park, the Science Center, the zoo.   I did the grocery shopping, paid the bills, cooked dinners and made cookies.   I read them bedtime stories and rocked them to sleep.  That was the only parenting I knew.  That was the only marriage I knew.   It was a true partnership.

When my youngest son was 4 months old (and the others were 20 months and almost 4), my husband took the job that changed our family forever.   He was no longer my other half in parenting.  He began traveling for weeks at a time (weekends included).  I still worked full time and  had no one to help shoulder the responsibilities.    That wasn’t our deal.  I didn’t sign up to do it all alone.  I wanted a partner to share EVERYTHING.  He could no longer be that.  We had a rough few years.  Although he had technically gotten a promotion, we had childcare expenses for the first time that grossly outweighed whatever salary increase he’d be given.   We were broke.  I was exhausted.  I was resentful.  I guilted him every chance I had.  I cried regularly.  I yelled a lot.  I yelled.  A LOT.

Eventually, I grew accustomed to our new normal.  People would ask me “How in the world do you do it??” and I remember thinking that was the stupidest, most insulting question.  “I just do it” was my only answer quickly followed by the sight of me walking away.

In 2009, exactly five years after he began traveling, I quit my job to stay home.  At the time I made 50% of our family income.   I had no plan.  I had 1 month’s salary in savings.  I just decided I couldn’t do it all anymore…  no one was getting the best me.  My kids, my boss, my husband.. they were all getting only pieces of me.  I was always distracted.  I was constantly overwhelmed.  I was numb with exhaustion. I was still yelling a lot.    So I made a change.   With no plan and no warning.  One day I had a career and the next day I did not.  Now it was my husband’s turn to be resentful.    Now HE felt like he didn’t have a partner anymore.  Where I had relied on him to partner with me in parenting, he had relied on my to partner with him financially.  Now it was all on him and he was not happy about it.

Those first few months, I sat at the kitchen table with my laptop (that I sold several pieces of jewelry to buy) and worked and reworked different spreadsheets trying to make a budget that made sense.   None of them did.  So, I did the only thing I could;  I ignored the numbers.

That summer I was 37 years old.  It was the first time since I was 14 that I didn’t have a job.  It was my first “summer break” in almost 25 years, and I didn’t want to spend it staring at the walls (or climbing up them).   So, I packed up a cooler with ham, cheese and rolls, a few bottles of wine, bags of fruit and several cases of water.  I fueled up the car, I loaded up the kids, and we hit the road.   We visited friends in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.  We met my husband in DC and crashed in his hotel.  We went sight seeing while he worked.  We picnicked at rest stops.  We had a budget of $25 a day.   We were gone for 2 weeks.

When we returned from that trip, I was shocked to find that I had actually spent LESS money traveling that I would have at home.  No movies, no pizza delivery, no entertaining, and a very strict budget.

I loaded up the car and we left again.   This time we headed to New Orleans to visit family.  Stayed for 10 days.

That summer became known as “Leisure Tour 2009” and it was the beginning of a huge metamorphosis for me as an individual and as a parent.  That summer, my boys and I became partners.  There was no way to travel, eat, sleep and play if we weren’t all on the same page.  We were in it together.  We made decisions as a group.  The boys were 8, 6, & 4 1/2 and they behaved like little men.  They helped each other.  They discussed things.  They knew our budget and would say things like “If we SHARE a hot fudge sundae, can we get dessert?”.   That summer I fell in love with each of my children as much as the day they were born.  It was the first time in my parental life that we had no schedule, no commitments and no expectations.   I had more patience than I had every had before and didn’t need to use any of it.   It was a life changing summer for our entire family.

In the years since then, my husband and I have grown to truly appreciate our situation.  His travel schedule has afforded us many things I would have never known to appreciate.  When he is home, we are truly happy to see each other.  We have the opportunity to miss one another, which is a great gift.  His decade of extensive travel has resulted in enough airline and hotel points for continued family vacations.

He is with us as often as he can be.  When we  take  family trips, he and I are the leaders.  We are in charge.  We make the plans, we choose the routes, and the boys are left to be kids; to watch movies, play video games and bicker in the backseat.   Those trips are amazingly perfect in every way.   They boys are so in love with their father.  Uninterrupted time with him is so precious to them, they actually APPRECIATE it. Did you hear that?  I have children that appreciate the time spent with their dad.  And a husband who appreciates the time with his kids.  Again.. such a gift.

When it’s just the boys and I, there is no leader.  We are a team.  My teenager is in charge of navigation.  The other two are involved in keeping us within our budget and planning our meals and itineraries.    When my husband is not with us, my boys take over his role.  They become leaders.  They take charge.  I don’t know how or when he taught them this. I don’t know IF he taught them this.  Maybe they just picked it up.  I never saw it happen.  One day, I was taking care of children and the next they were taking care of me.    When he is there, they are typical kids.  When he is not, they look out for each other.  They look out for me.   They hold doors open chairs out.  They hold my luggage and my hand.  They shower without being asked and occasionally even pick up the towels.

They have recently started making comments like “Oh, when I have kids, I am totally bringing them here!”  or “I want to get a really good job so I can bring my family and you and dad here for a whole summer.  I mean, if you and dad are still alive.”  (nice)

When my boys were very young, I always said “I’m not raising boys, I am trying to raise men”.

I would have never thought that one of my most cherished gifts from my husband would be his absence, but it is.  His job has allowed me to develop a different relationship with my children than just “mother/son”.  It has created a bond between him and kids that is more precious than I ever could have known.   Watching their eyes light up every single time he walks through the door does something to my heart that I cannot express with words.

His physical absence pales in comparison to his daily presence in their lives, their hearts, and their actions.

Thank you honey.  Thank you for giving me what I never knew I wanted.  I love you.




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Filed under: Dear Diary, Family, Uncategorized



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55 Responses to "Everything that I never knew I wanted."

  1. Truth- preach it. The Flake travels extensively for work… and when people ask me how I can do it, sometimes for weeks at a time… dude, I love it. I love that the three of us can function as our own unit… and the relationship it has created is more than I ever hoped for. And yeah, that “he’s home!” moment? I teared up yesterday seeing both of my big ol boys.. including the one that is now taller than his father- race across a crowded area to give him hugs, yelling “DAD”.

    Happy Fathers Day, Seven… you’ve got a helluva team.

  2. Ann says:

    OMG. You haven’t written shit in forever.. then you write this, and I cry. thanks, Bitch! xoxo

  3. laura frost says:

    Absolutely beautiful.
    Enough said.

  4. Tina says:

    I absolutely live this story! Being a newly single mother of 5 I feel stressed all the damn time. But then when I think about it hell I was pretty much a single parent even when he was here daily. I’m trying to find ways to get more QT with the kiddies but it’s hard when you work 49 hours a week and by the time I get home barely have time to cook and before I know it it’s their bedtime. This story really makes me want to get out and do more with them no matter what. Although I can’t quit my job 🙁 but anyways is truly love this story

  5. pete says:

    such a beutiful story wow so cool

  6. kitten says:

    Loved this :•}

  7. Jessi says:

    True shit!!!! My hubby works out if town too. We are the same way. Awesome read!!

  8. Vero says:

    Beautiful piece about the truth of a marriage & raising men.

  9. Brenda Hull says:

    My husband also worked out of town for many years when our kids were very young. The things we learned about ourselves during that time only brought us far more closer than I think we would have, had he a “regular” job. I totally agree with the “daddy’s home” moments 🙂 I wouldn’t trade those for anything!!

  10. Amanda says:

    Thank you for sharing that, made me tear up. It’s nice to hear we all go through times like that 🙂

  11. Nicole says:

    Love it!

  12. Alberta says:

    Beautiful post!

  13. miss dee says:

    I wish I was as strong as you…..

    1. Hot Mess Mom says:

      hindsight is 20/20. Don’t think I felt very strong in the thick of it… I was a mess.

  14. Mara says:

    This made me cry, but for all the right reasons! It’s awesome to hear about “normal’ people, with normal issues; working too much, being tired, yelling, kids and NOT being filthy rich! Many, many yrs. ago, I went thru a divorce and decided to take a big jump: moved my 14 yr. old son & I to California. Stupid me, not realizing I wasn’t going to be paid for the first 2-3 weeks and having spent my savings on the move; U-haul, & Apartment deposit & utility deposits- suddenly found myself having to live off a $5 budget a day ’til payday! It wasn’t easy (to say the least) but guess what? To this day my now 31 yr. old son says he remembers it being the best time ever! And may I add, we didn’t know California apartments do NOT come with a refrigerator- so my boy had to go every day across the street to the little mom & pop store and get ice for our cooler, which is where we stored our milk, eggs, etc. He tells me that yrs. after, he walked into that same store & the owner yelled out “ice boy, where you been?” Lol

    It’s the struggles in life that help (& sometimes force!) us to appreciate what we have….and you obviously have a great deal of a lot. I sincerely hope you continue to be blessed with much more tons of fun & joy!! ❤️

  15. Becky Chandler says:

    Happy fathers day seven! I loved this post! Although our situation is different, finally finding our groove as a cocouple and as parents has been a wonderful feeling, and since my boys are more spread in ages (19, 14, & almost 9) I’ve watched one become a young man, one is well on his way with only his age making him from fully being a man, and my youngest has recently made great strides in maturing and becoming a young gentleman! My husband is an amazing role model, a wonderful father and step father and I know we would all be much different people! Happy fathers day Fuzzy! <3

  16. Becky Chandler says:

    *couple* not cocouple!! Woops!

  17. rocko says:

    So happy for you.glad you raised men.the world needs more.That why God gave me 3 beautiful daughters.all grown doing well.taking their childern p.laces,,we went too.your husband hubs has ALS lou geheig siease. I yell a lot. Not what we planned.but he is the greatest guy ive ever met.
    I want to say thanks for always making me laugh or cry or feal like im not alone during some tuff give me hope.have a gewat day thanks for sharing.

  18. amanda Shaw says:

    I cryed reading this it beautiful and I can only hope that I become like u one day my hubby also travels for weeks on end and I too and the one at home with 3 small children not all boys but I know how hard it is am happy that u have found a way to connection with them god bless u and Ur family and I love Ur face book page

  19. J says:

    Seriously!? Totally agree w Ann! You bitch! *tears*

  20. Michelle says:

    OMG! What a beautiful gift you’ve been given. Thank you for sharing this!

  21. Mary in Tucson says:

    I understand your journey perfectly. I have been and still am in your shoes. And I, too, am extremely grateful for all the work and travel my husband did (and still does) to give us an amazing life. My boys, 12 and 10, just adore their father, and they step up to the plate when he’s away for long stretches. We’ve had amazing adventures as a family because when we’re together, we focus on our time together as a family. And thanks to frequent flier miles and hotel points, we’re going to have a lovely vacation this month in Montreal!

    It wasn’t what I had ever anticipate or expected, but it is wonderful! Thank you, babe, for this crazy, amazingly fantastic ride of life we’re on.

  22. Minerva says:

    This sounds so much like our lives right now so definitely can relate. Beautifully written!

  23. Serendipity says:

    Yes, you made me cry too, but such happy tears! The blessings in life that we never asked for, and didn’t even realize we wanted, are often so much sweeter.
    I so often find your stories inspiring – Not because your life is particularly extraordinary, actually more because it’s not. It’s just your attitude, your fortitude & your ability to laugh through the tears. Thank you for sharing!
    God bless & Happy Father’s Day to Seven!

  24. Jill says:

    Love it Chickita!!!! My favorite time is with my 14 year old son and 11 year old daughter…they have a father but not a ‘Dad”…the 3 of us are a “team” as well…we can just “be” together no moving just hanging and the boy is soo protective of the girl and I…thanks for sharing!!! xo

  25. Seven says:

    Made me cry as well, Ann.
    Thank you, HMM
    I love you

  26. Sloane says:

    Thanks, HMM…that me tear up; it was beautiful, and very reminiscent of my own childhood. My dad was an over the road truck driver and was gone for sometimes 2-3 weeks at a time. Later, he worked in construction and was gone for sometimes 2-3 MONTHS at at time. My mom held down the fort. She did everything, including babysitting other peoples kids each and every day. My dad wasn’t physically in the house every day, but when he was, boy was it fun, and my mom got a much needed break. It couldn’t have been easy for her, or for them, but they made it work. They loved each other and me and my two sisters knew it. It wasn’t always peaches and cream, but they stuck it out. Five years ago, just shy of their 51st Wedding Anniversary, my mom had a stroke which left her wheelchair bound most of the time. My dad stepped up more than I ever thought he could or would and never left her side. He became her primary caregiver until the moment he passed away, four weeks ago. This is my first Father’s Day without my dad, but he has left an indelible impression on me. By working away and supporting his family the only way he knew how, he made my mother stronger. It is that strength that she draws on today, allowing her to make decisions she never thought she would have to make on her on. Do I wish he would have been there more when I was growing up? Sure…but he was there for the big things, and more importantly, he was always there for my mom. So thanks again HMM for reminding me to make the most of the time shared together and don’t dwell on the time spent apart.

  27. Chris says:

    found you not long ago and have been enjoying your Facebook posts. Kept sending my sister pictures of things you used for a HMM version of the “pencil test.”
    Nice to know someone out there has as skewed of a sense of humor as I do.
    This post, however, tugged at heartstrings…mostly because I raised my three as a single mom from when they were 3, 5, and 7 (and I did daycare because I had no job and no car) so I can totally identify with having no help. I had a happy ending as well…years later met a great guy on eharmony and married him.
    still have the skewed sense of humor, though, and he lets me write about him.
    keep up the good work. I enjoy your writing!

  28. kathy niblack (nanakat#05) says:

    Awesome, heartwarming, very touching, made me tear-up also! You are raising boys to become men who can take care og themselves and others. You have slso taught them love, respect for others as well as themselves, and I bet they turn out to become fantastic fathers as well as husbands. Great job, well done HMM. I loved your journey.

  29. Ina says:

    wow.. just .. wow ..

  30. Mary says:

    HMM, you and Seven are raising 3 incredibly lucky sons who will become awesome men.Then you and Seven will be the coolest grandparents ever!!!

  31. Jennifer Wright says:

    I love this!! My husband is in the Airforce…..Again! I am really upset by it. Before I couldn’t find a full time decent paying job b/c of the AF or his recreational trips to see his brother. So all the responsibilities of the bills fell on him. So I have chosen to live without certain things I used to be able to afford myself. Like new undergarments when my others are too old and torn to wear. So I just deal. So….my husband decides quitting his job to go back in the AF b/c he can train for a few months and move up in rank and make more money. But that leaves us without until he gets paid. And b/c our little family has to wait so long before any real money comes in the house he’s gonna be griping b/c most of his check will be gone. I had to quit my job. I can’t afford to put our baby in day care on drop off care. That’s $20 a day. So he complains….a lot that I’m not working. But in the end I have saved us money. I can’t hell the utilities. I mean its only rent electric and water. We don’t have cable anymore. We have a WiFi hotspot and cell phones through at&t. My truck pymnt and insurance for my truck his truck and his bike. My truck pymnt was supposed to go away when he got money from his moms Ina when she passed away. But he chose to buy a bike instead and complain abt having to pay for my truck after he said he was gonna pay it off so we wouldn’t have many bills. So I’m taking medical billing and coding classes at the local college. The temp services are already calling wanting to know when our class will be done. Only problem is that idk if I will be able to apply anywhere if I can’t find a proper sitter for our 2 children so I can concentrate and be productive. So, I loved what I read in your blog. It gives me hope and courage foe the future. You don’t know how many times I wanted to quit this man and this relationship and go live I. A homeless shelter. No chizz!! This time away will give us time to get things right. He will be making more money. He will be moving up and rank and unfortunately he will be sent over there… But we will be financially stable. And also, I know I had my rant but our son who is 2 1/2 yrs old loves his daddy soooo much!!!! I really hate that they have to be apart for his sake. But doe his father I am praying that he will learn there is more to life than motorcycles and hanging with friends. He is a 34 yr old man with children that NEED him. Don’t get me wrong. He is a good father. He just thinks that a mother is what a young boy needs most right now. Why? When he was our sons age he needed and wanted his dad and still does. So when I questioned him, he hung his head….before he left for the AF. So….hopefully this will put his life back into perspective….a little. B/c he God gave him a son (both of us) that loves and needs USA LOT!!!! Not just his momma or his daddy a little bit.

  32. kfh says:

    I needed this today. I needed to see that the absence of the daddy does not always leave an open wound.

    My hubs works long hours. He works hard. He has a goal, and he is trying to reach it. As a family, in the last 2 years, we have been through so much. Emotional trauma, financial ruin, and so many other things. But we are still married, and we still love each other and our kids. That, in itself, is one hell of an accomplishment!

    While intellectually I know his motives and goals, I am constantly left to be the mommy and daddy. I have never been a stay-at-home mom. Most days, it gets the best of me, and I am not proud.

    I still resent my former employer for letting me go from a job I loved–a job I was promised I could have if we moved home. I resent the people who hurt my family. And some days, I admit it, I resent my husband–for illogical things like haing a job he loves and leaving me alone with the kids.

    It’s time to embrace the connection I am building with my kids. It’s time to embrace the hurtful past and move the hell on (so much easier said than done). It’s time to breathe!

    Thanks, again, for putting it out there. I know it’s OK to be imperfect. It is also OK to find small moments of perfection in the mess.

  33. Toi says:

    I loved this soooooooooooo much…I’ve been thinking about taken my boys on a road trip and this may have just been the motivation I needed!

  34. THIS is why you are my idol. (I almost shared my father’s day post with you because I thought it was awesome… and now I just feel stupid. But only in a way that is totally complimentary to you, if that makes any sense at all.) <3 <3

  35. Tara says:

    WOW! Just WOW! I am new to the party. I only recently discovered HMM – I actually spent a few days reading the blog from the beginning. You are an amazing Mom. What first drew me in was your humor; you write as if we are having a conversation. I knew you had it figured out when you made reference to the fact that you preferred to have experiences with your children than to buy them material things. Sounds like you are raising amazing men! Parenting Win!

  36. Terri says:

    Loved the story and life lessons you shared. Congrats on your wonderful family and your experiences with them. I could have used some of your insight when my kids were young. They turned out great even with my fumbles thank goodness. Lol. Have a great Father’s Day.

  37. Steph Fox says:

    Aww, I came on here trying to see when my purchase was going to arrive, and you gave me a wonderful, understanding. My husband works a ton and I am always bitching and feeling sorry for myself. NO more!! I am going to take charge of my situation and help him be the best he can be!! Thank you very much. Hope my water cup get’s here soon 🙂

  38. Krista Quintrell says:

    Simply incredible!!!!!

  39. Susan Smith says:

    This is so beautifully written. There is no such thing as a “typical” family! Thank you for making sense out of family situations that sometimes don’t make sense…living through them together…and growing stronger.

  40. Sonia says:

    Beautifully written! I love the part where you wrote about your boys taking care of you when Seven is gone. That is so rare today. Clearly your boys have great role models at home. You and Seven are raising three fine young men, which I hope to do with my son. Thank you for sharing your story.

  41. Dave Monk says:

    I haven’t seen a guy comment on this yet, so here we go!! I only get my 4 year old daughter every other weekend, and even then between my work schedule and her bedtime, I only get to spend a few hours with her before she goes home to her mom. But those hours are what I live for! Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder, because the last few times she was here, all she wanted was snuggle time with daddy! Happy fathers day to all the moms pulling double duty!

  42. Alice says:

    Omg I am crying like a baby… have such an amazing family god bless you all 🙂

  43. Jennifer says:

    Love this!! It brought me to tears.

  44. Jo-Anne Rusakiewicz says:

    Great read HMM! What a beautiful tribute to your life partner and the father of those awesome young men!
    #parentingdoingitright #beenthroughshitcomeoutsmellinglikearose!

  45. Janel says:

    Awesome you nailed it Hot Mess Mom!! I love reading all of your stories 🙂 Happy Father’s Day Seven

  46. lisa says:

    I have omly folwed u on fb book for a lil while but I luv everything u post. U r an awesome mom nd just like every mom that has boys or kids, crazy. U dnt try yo b fske nd sugar coat things nd I luv it. This hear brings tears to my eyes, ur family is awesome nd ur a great mom. I luv u nd ur husband keep the spark slive nd I luv yo hear how much ur boys tske care of each other nd u. Those are most definitely gentle men. Ur daughter n laws shud b so greatful, when u get some tho. Lol

  47. Deva says:

    Your whole family is amazing! Thanks for sharing this!!! It’s awesome to see someone else “gets it”. Keep on keepin on!!!!

  48. Angie says:

    That was beautiful.

  49. Ash says:

    Wow this is truly something special.

  50. Kerry says:

    We’re enduring a new job for him and a new loneliness for me/us (me and the kids) right now. Knowing you made it through like a champ makes me hopeful that we’re going to survive! Right now I don’t get much of him, and what I do get isn’t exactly the best of him, so I’m in a serious funk for the past 3 months… And he seems clueless and careless because of his new adventures and challenges that I secretly resent like crazy. I’m sure we’ll be ok, but this transition phase sure sucks ass!

  51. Michelle says:

    I am a mom,, of a “blended family. I got married early, had a son, divorced early,, raised him alone til he was 14,, then I met a wonderful man whom I married and had a daughter. My husband passed away when she was 4 (cancer) I was blessed enough to have known I was going to lose him,, for a year,,therefore we left no words unspoken,, wasted no time on petty things. Not everyone has that opportunity. After he passed,, I see people,, every day, being hateful, hurtful,, going through life,, not having a clue. Some people,like me have learned,, the hard way,, these life lessons. Some , like you,, have figured it out,, or have at least figured out that there is more to life,, than material things,, who’s wrong, who’s right. It’s about people and kindness, love and joy. I wish everyone would understand that. I am with the most amazing man now,, who also lost his wife,, so we’re alike in that,, we don’t waste a moment,, never pass up an opportunity to say I love you, and never miss a chance to dance in the rain.. This is my wish for you…

  52. chicknamedal says:

    I often think that the time my parents spent apart due to Dad’s job responsibilities is the main reason they were together for 52 years. Would’ve been more, except Mom laid down for her Saturday nap one Saturday 2 years ago and never woke up.

  53. Ria says:

    Thank you! I am 31 years old and a single mom to a month old baby. I love your advice and thank you for sharing. I love traveling but I haven’t done much of it in awhile. I love how you have you are able to teach your children so much. Any tips that you have are greatly appreciated.

  54. Amanda says:

    Wow, one of the most honest things I have ever read and I loved every word of it!

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