We hear it every year. In coaches’ wives’ circles, we say it with a halfhearted laugh.
“It’s football season. Time to be a single parent again,” we quip.
We all roll our eyes and laugh. Because yes, our husbands are gone before we wake and get home after dark. For a few months out of the year we are ships in the night, searching for little pockets of time throughout the week to have one real conversation.
But that’s the thing. Eventually, we get the conversation. Or at least there’s the hope of conversation.
Unlike actual single parents we know that even if he’s not home until after dark, he’s still coming home.
Even if we don’t get to eat dinner together every night, we will again soon.
Even if we don’t get to have a date night for a few weeks, bye week is coming.
Even if we have to do most of the parenting duties alone, we can still text him and say, “Today has been a hard day.”
At the end of the day we can call or text or go by the office for a quick hug.
Even if we miss him, we know he’s coming back.
And the truth is that’s not true of single parents. The last couple of years have been a harsh reminder of that.
We’ve watched some of our own go from losing their husbands to football season, to losing their husbands to tragedy or divorce. And we’ve been confronted with a sobering truth: it’s not the same. The joke isn’t funny anymore, and it probably never was.
Yes, there are months we are doing a lot of the work at home alone. We are in charge of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, bath times, practices, piano lessons, doctor’s appointments. We run all the errands and chauffeur all the kids. We grab the groceries and struggle through the bedtimes. And it’s so dadgum exhausting. We lose our tempers and our minds. Every now and then, we hit a wall of resentment.
Tired mommas? Yep.
Missing our partners? Yep.
Needing a break? Without a doubt.
But our husbands aren’t gone—they are working. And soon, they’ll be back. There’s a balance to everything and every couple needs to find a balance that works for both of them.
Do our kids miss him? Yes. Sometimes desperately. But they also know he is coming home. They know on Saturday afternoons he’ll be there for a wrestling match and a shared bowl of ice cream. And on Game Nights, they know they’ll get to run out onto the field for a big hug.
We are not single moms. They are not fatherless kids.
Tonight, even if it’s really late, even if I’m already in bed and my mind is already deep in Dreamland, at some point my husband will slide into bed and inch his body near; I’ll feel his fingers slip into mine. And I’ll sleep a little deeper knowing he’s home.