I am sulking.
I’m sulking because for the umpteenth time this month, hubby is working on a Saturday. He left home at 8.30am and, if I’m lucky, might just see the children before bedtime – but it’s not guaranteed. The other Sunday his, ‘I should be home by 3pm’ ended with him not rocking up until 9pm that night. On a Sunday, for goodness sake. He’s also staying away for three nights next week, conveniently missing the first three days of the school holidays and our ninth wedding anniversary.
This is, fortunately, an unusual situation for us. Hubby’s job is (generally) office hours only, and he rarely misses bath and bedtime. But at the moment a planning application that he has been working on for the past seven years is reaching its climax, and it’s intense.
The thing is, being at home with two children is also intense. Especially when I’m trying to work as well. Being a freelancer has its merits, but it also means I was back ‘at work’ just 10 days after giving birth to The Baby, and have to try to fit my deadlines in around her (pitiful) sleep. More often than not, that means working from the minute the children are in bed until 10.30pm or beyond.
The main topic of conversation in our house at the moment – other than The Baby’s sleep, or lack of – is who has it hardest. Don’t get me wrong; I know hubby is under massive stress and would much rather spend his weekends at home than in the office. But whereas he can jump in the car and go without a second thought, I can’t. One of us has to look after the kids, and by default, that’s me. And when he’s away at the weekend, I get precisely no work done. Yes, The Baby still naps, but have you ever tried writing an article on innovations in joint replacement surgery while a five-year-old plays a very noisy game of army aircraft around you?
It’s wrong to be resentful, I know, but I can’t help feeling just slightly bitter and twisted. Every time hubby swans off to work at the weekend without a second thought for my deadlines, the implication is that his job is more important than mine. In fairness, I guess it is; after all, he’s influencing the country’s future housing plans while I’m just providing magazine fodder – and, of course, he has a boss to answer to. But if I miss a deadline, you can bet your bottom dollar that the editor will think twice about commissioning me in future, and although my income is roughly half of hubby’s salary, we need that bit of extra money to keep afloat.
I know I have it easy, really. I know plenty of people whose other halves work away for weeks at a time, and a few single mums too, and I have the utmost respect for them. In comparison, I have no right to complain. But I’m staring down the barrel of the school holidays with a list of deadlines as long as my arm, and every hubby-free Saturday piles the pressure on a bit more.
I feel for the children, too, particularly The Boy, who keeps asking why Daddy is going to work at the weekend *again.*
Still, the end is in sight, or so I’m told. After next week, hubby should return to his normal hours until September, at least. And the reality of a hubby-free day is never as bad as I expect it to be. The Boy has spent all morning playing Lego, doing sticker books and reading, and The Baby has kicked about on her playmat between sleeps. It’s a pretty chilled-out Saturday, really, and while I’ll have to work this evening to make up for lost time, I’d much rather be here, curled up on the sofa listening to The Boy reading Bug Buddies and giggling about the dung beetle (‘He eats poo!’) than stuck in the office preparing for what is, by all accounts, likely to be the most stressful week of hubby’s working life to date, where he faces seven years of work being ripped to shreds by the opposition’s QC at a planning enquiry.
Perhaps I do have it easier, after all.