We’ve named it reentry. Much like atmospheric reentry there is a certain amount of risk. Now that we are twelve years into marriage and almost eleven years into parenting, we have a solution. I leave the house.
When the kids were tiny his job took him away much more than it does now. There would be several weeks each spring where he’d be gone and then another few weeks following that where the days were so long, that all we’d see of him was his laundry. The locations changed but the scenarios seldom did.
He would leave and the first day I would miss him, the second day I would be tired and trying to keep up with the kids, and the kids would miss him. Somewhere between days three and four we would catch our rhythm, the rules of the house would subtly change, and the kids and I would adapt to a life without Dad. The day before he came back home, we’d anxiously prepare ourselves and our home, and the day he returned we would be awkward, loving and excited.
Then the first full day back we would fight.
My husband and I aren’t fighters, we don’t bicker, we don’t agree on everything, but fighting is unusual. I realized it was me. The dynamic was just not working for us. I’d shift our household rules ever so slightly to allow for the fact that there were two of them and just one of me, and when my husband would return, he’d shift the rules back. I felt like I’d been inadequate, and like they were my kids, not ours.
I’m not really one to cater much to feelings. Though I’m sure a therapist would tell you that they are “valid” feelings, that doesn’t mean they need to be acted upon.
Now, when he returns, in an effort to avoid the destructive nature of reentry I leave. I greet my husband as I typically would, but for that first full day I find errands to do, or tennis matches that must be played. I leave my husband with his children and the trio enjoys one another for a day. I don’t tell him he’s doing it wrong, and I’m not in the room for a day where he’s fairly certain I’ve done it wrong. On day two I rejoin the family, and we are a family again, no fighting, and everyone is happy to be together.
He comes home tomorrow night, Monday is Yom Kippur. There will be reeentry coupled with fasting. This I’m not ready for.