My husband is a driller and this means he works away from home. Usually it’s supposed to be three weeks on and ten days off, but more often than not his shifts are much longer than that. It makes for some challenges to our lifestyle – no planning ahead for events, regular tearful goodbyes at the airport, learning how to explain to a toddler that Dad is going away on an airplane for three weeks but not actually living on the airplane (“Where’s Papa? He’s in the sky?”)
One of the biggest challenges, however, is hitting the reset button every thirty-one days. For some couples, the idea of spending 75 percent of the time away from each other just isn’t an option. For us, in some ways, it really works. For me, I get to be ME for a while. Space. Freedom (says the mother of a two-year-old). Independence. A chance to refine who I am and what I want to be without (some) compromise. I exercise. I eat what I want. I read and write and create without distraction (during nap time, anyway).
But then he returns. And it’s lasagna and ice cream and violent, mind-numbing TV. Cuddles, yes, but also a hell of a lot more calories.
In life, we are constantly falling on and off the wagon. Routines get cluttered with sudden challenges and detours, and our good intentions fall to the wayside for the sake of solving life’s day-to-day chaos.
We spend a month eating clean and doing a hundred sit-ups before breakfast only to take a four-day trip to Vegas and end up feeling, in body and mind, like a softer version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Getting back on the horse, or the wagon, has become an art in my life. I live two lives, and each has its merits and place. But it means being two people, and it means learning how to shift gears without too much resistance or resentment. Get up, put on your running shoes and get out the vacuum. And in twenty-one sleeps, get out the mozzarella.
The lesson I’ve learned from this is, at any point, you can be who you want or need to be. Just like that. What it takes is first acting – doing – and once there’s momentum you can fine tune things. Tweak it. Think about it a bit.
So if you’ve been dying to feel like that person you were ten years ago that would get up with the dawn and do a full hour and a half yoga routine, or that read a novel every couple of days, or volunteered weekly at the soup kitchen, start with an action. Just a small one. Get up tomorrow and stretch. Buy the guy on the corner a Cup of Noodles from 7/11. Read the comic strips. Then go from there. Don’t over think it. You have to start somewhere.
So today, with hubby gone, I’ll wash the linens. Then maybe go for a walk. And in no time I know it will turn into a clean house, a fridge full of vegetables, and a workout routine. And, at some point near the end of his stint, I’ll hunt for a new recipe for chocolate cake.