Stay At Home Mom, Work Abroad Dad
This blog has taken me a really long time to write. I can honestly say that I have spent more time thinking about it and working on it than I have in any other writing assignment I have ever had. The reason for this is that I had some really inspiring women give me their stories. I want to do their stories justice and I want to convey how awesome they are and I started over about 10 times on this blog because I wanted to make sure I was doing just that.
I grew up with a father that was and still is in the oilfield. He was gone all the time. His schedule for as long as I could remember was 8 and 4. That’s 8 days and nights away from home and 4 days home. In theory it doesn’t sound that bad, but 2 of the four days were spent traveling either to or from work.
While my dad’s sacrifice in working that schedule is a great one, now that I am a mom I realize how hard it must have been on my mom. Not only did she have to take care of the normal mom things, like cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, she had to take care of the dad things also. If the car broke down she had to figure it out. If there was a problem with the plumbing she had to take care of that too. I have had a little bit of experience with this as well. My husband is also in the oil field and right now his job allows for him to be home most nights and weekends, but it hasn’t always been that way. He worked for 5 months out of state. In 5 months he probably was home for a total of 6 days. Looking back on that time it was so, so hard.
There are moms out there that do the same thing, day in and day out. There are oilfield wives and military mamas and then there are single moms who do it all, all the time.
My sister-in-law, Heather, experienced being a single mom when her husband who was in the Army was deployed to Afghanistan. I often wondered how she managed to take care of a baby all the while worrying that her husband wouldn’t come home.
She said that the key to making it through was having support and staying busy. “I had a wonderful group of Army wives who were going through the same thing. I stayed busy with play dates, work outs, camping trips and made sure to keep my cell phone charged for the calls I got from my husband every few weeks.”
Heather said that even though it was hard she felt lucky because she only had one child at home while some of her friends were expecting or had multiple children to take care of all by themselves.
“The hardest part was the constant worrying, but we were very fortunate for my husband’s safe return,” said Heather. “What made it all worth it was seeing the look on his face when he saw his son for the first time after being deployed.”
My friend, Faith was a single mom for 7 years. She says that it was such a struggle. Though her husband is now home on Wednesday and Saturday nights, she says it is still really tough!
“It’s a struggle to get the kids to stay on task and listen to me as they listen to him a lot better,” said Faith.
Faith says although it can be challenging to do most of the parenting alone she is really thankful that she is able to be a stay-at-home mom.
“I feel like I am constantly running around. If I had a job, I wouldn’t make it!”
Another oil field wife and mom of 3, Kimberley sent me her story. Her husband is gone more than he is home. She says that it’s very hard on the kids and sometimes she is at her wits end trying to take care of them and work a full time job. However, she thinks it is harder on her husband.
“The thing that keeps me going is realizing that it is harder on my husband. He is the one who has to miss out on everything. “
Kimberley is amazed by her husband.
“His dedication to our family is simply amazing and we try to show him our appreciation and love for him in everything we do.”
My aunt Sharon, mom to twin girls, also had a husband that was gone a lot for work. She says that when your spouse is always gone, you pour your heart and soul into the lives of your children.
“When my girls were growing up, I went to everything with them and their friends and those are the times I will always hold close to my heart.”
Erin emailed me to tell me about her experience when she unexpectedly became a single mom in 2005. “Although this was the last thing I expected, I knew what I had to do to move forward and give my child the best.”
Erin worked 2 jobs and says that the days were long and the shifts were tiring but she was determined to do everything to make her daughter happy. When the father of Erin’s daughter terminated his rights to his daughter, it broke Erin’s heart for her innocent daughter.
Now Erin’s daughter is six and not having a father figure in her life can cause some difficult questions, Erin reminds her daughter that she will always be there for her and never leave her side.
Erin and her daughter’s life are very busy and at times, Erin admits that it can be overwhelming.
“I have experienced the overwhelming state before and cried many nights. I wish things could have happened differently but rather than exhausting my energy on things I cannot change, I focus on the future.”
Erin credits her awesome support system in helping her and says that raising a child consists of nurturing, guidance, love, support, listening, discipline and patience!
“Being a parent is a great feeling and doing it alone makes you even stronger!”
Brittany, a single mom of 1, also emailed me about her situation. She has worked two jobs to support her son. For Brittany the hardest part of being a single mom is when your child is sick and you are the only one there for them. However, Brittany says it is all worth it!
“Being a single mom, you get to spend every moment with your child.”
I also heard from my Aunt Con, whom I admire so much. She has been a single mom to two children for 14 years. She says that while it has been hard at times, she wouldn’t trade a single minute.
“I do not have to consult or discuss any decision I make with anyone else. I get to spend my money on my kids the way I want to, I get to decide where we go for dinner and for holidays and for vacations! If there is anything wrong with either of my kids, they will call me - they know that I will always be there for them. We are a team and know that we can always count on each other.”
Con says that her kids know her as a complete person. While she is the disciplinarian, she is also the one that they joke and play with. Her children have learned that she means what she says and that their actions have consequences. They also know that they can always go to their mom to have a good time.
“I’m the person that bought $10 worth of bubble gum and taught them how to blow bubbles with their gum on a 5 hour road trip! I taught them how to clean toilets, wash clothes, and two-step.”
In 14 years, Con has been through highs and lows with her children. She says she has had a job that didn’t pay much and they had to learn to economize. She’s also had a job making decent money and she says that taught her children how important it is to keep a good job.
“They respect the difference between work and play, between responsibility and having fun.”
One of the most important lessons Con and her children have learned is that you can’t have everything. She says since there are 2 of them and 1 of her, she had to place a limit on their activities.
“I don't think either one of them were deprived - I think we all had to learn how to make good decisions and enjoy the things you can do.”
Con says she sees working mothers everyday who are trying to be everything to everybody - and it can't be done. She says that being a single mom has given me a focus and clarity - and I can thank my kids for that!
“Being a single mom is extremely empowering. Yes, it is difficult - and sometimes it feels impossible - but there are also many positive aspects to being a single mom. And, if you are willing to put in the work, you are rewarded with the ultimate gift - independent, capable, loving children who grown into enjoyable, hardworking, productive adults - and they become your best friends.”
Thanks to everyone who wrote me and told me your story! All of you ladies are such an inspiration! Keep up the good work!