After my second child was born, I faced a particularly tough year. As the wife of a traveling musician, I was used to being married but living like a single, working mother. I managed with one kid, but two made everything even tougher. When my husband, Danny, signed on to tour with an artist for a nine-month period and possibly beyond, I wasn't sure I could cope.
But musicians' wives aren't the only women in this predicament. There are legions of careers that require extensive travel, from sales jobs to the military. Then there are jobs that just require long hours -- doctors' wives and lawyers' wives aren't strangers to doing dinner and bedtime on their own. How, I wondered, do all these women do it?
I found my own way by adjusting my attitude. It sounds corny, but after I fully bought into the idea of myself as Danny's partner, I felt like a part of his decision and his plan. I approached the day-to-day operation of the household in a way that kept me sane and focused. I would not play martyr. I didn't have time! I got help where I needed it, enjoyed the moments I could, and moved forward -- even happily.
Part of not sitting around feeling sorry for myself was recognizing that Danny would be stressed too. Quiet hotels and restaurant meals seem glamorous to a mother stuck at home doing laundry and dishes, but life on the road gets old fast, and Danny missed our kids terribly. I wanted us both to get through his absence without resentment. Luckily, I found other women in the same boat who had some good advice. Here are three of them, all in situations similar to mine, who can share both their challenges and their survival strategies for keeping it all going.