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The Traveling Spouse Blues

If there is one thing Memphis does well, it’s the blues. I love wandering in and out of the music joints on Beale Street and hearing those blues guitars and singers do their thing. If you listen closely while reading this, you will hear those blues guitars in the background while I share my own story of having the blues.

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Before there were two babies in their baby carriages, there were two people and they were ridiculously in love. Annoyingly in love. They couldn’t keep their hands off of one another and it was all giggles and smiles despite the occasional disagreement over who cooked dinner better or why there was always a pile of clothing on the floor. Before that, there was a boy and a girl. The girl was fiery and fiercely independent.

She met this boy and they hit it off even though she wasn’t looking for love. In fact, she had just moved to a small, old, little, quirky apartment in the middle of a bustling downtown and she was looking forward to more independence. As is typical with life, nothing really goes as planned so here they were, this boy and this girl. Much to her surprise, this boy flew airplanes for a living. That meant he was gone a lot. While of course she missed him when he wasn’t there, this gave her the best of both worlds: independence and love. This was a match made in heaven.

Fast forward to now. Two babies later and this girl has a confession to make: she hates his job. She hates it even though he loves it so much. She hates it for all of the tears it brings. She hates it for the lonely nights. She hates it for those weeks when she has been alone for so many days that she honest to goodness can't remember when she last saw him. She hates it when all of the pressures of being Mom and Dad fall on her. She hates it when she hears herself saying awful things to her children because she has extended herself far beyond her capacity and has simply had enough. She hates it when something breaks in the house and she can't just have her husband fix it. She hates it when she is trying to keep up with scheduling and then she realizes she will be doing all of the errands and appointments alone. She hates it when she goes to the park or the museum on the weekend and all of these happy moms and dads are all together, sharing responsibilities, having multiple eyes to watch their multiple children with big, weekend smiles on their faces. But most of all, she hates that she can’t handle it.

She sees other women with traveling husbands or even military wives and how with such grace they handle the absence. They seem to be so put together and happy and able to deal with long days, nights, weeks, and years even. Why can’t she get it together? Why does everything always seem like such a crisis? Shouldn’t she just be happy and feel lucky to have a husband who loves his job and provides for their family? Why can't she still be as happy as she once was to be alone and on her own, while still having the love of her life? What happened to having "the best of both worlds?" What happened to that girl that thrived on independence and loved doing everything for herself?

What keeps her going through the struggles is his happiness. She has never met another person more passionate about their career than he is. You can feel it in his words and see that it’s in his blood. Most people look for ways to work less, he wants to work more. When he is flying that machine into blue skies, he is complete and that is the stuff role models are made of. This is the kind of man she wants her kids to look up to and be proud to call "Dad," and realize that dreams do come true when you work very, very hard. She knows he would rather bring them all along on his travels if he could. He is most complete when he is with them, after all. And when he comes home from days out on the road, he is all in. He is waking up with the kids and doing the dishes and laundry. He is taking out the trash and fixing all of the things on the list that she lets go far too long because there is only one of her. He knows of her struggles and he does all that he can to help.

She may not feel up to the challenge most of the time and she may feel like she is failing at being with a traveling man but the fact remains that she is still that fiercely independent girl who is capable of anything on her own. The bonus to her life now is that she also gets to have a partner who inspires and loves and adds so much fun and light to her life. As is standard with all blues songs, you have to take the bad with the good. And in her case, the good far outweighs the bluest of blues.


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