An introduction to Arkansas Daddy. Ew, no. I hate that. Sounds like a pervert. Arkansas Husband? That will work for now.
Anyway, Arkansas Husband has a very demanding career. Well almost-career. We are still in training for the official “career.” At the end of his training, he will have been at it for ten years. A DECADE. And I say “we” with purpose. Although I married him knowing full well the career he had chosen and the path ahead of us, it has not come without its sacrifices. For the both of us. Delayed financial stability. Student loan debt. And having an absent parent. When I say “absent,” I don’t mean absent like he isn’t around for no reason, or that he doesn’t care, or that he doesn’t help me. Because that is not true. He is an amazing father and husband. Seriously. My soulmate. I mean absent in the sense that his training necessarily keeps him from home. Which means I am often the solo parent (not to be confused with single parent because single parents face much more difficult obstacles than I do and they are badasses and they amaze me). I am grateful for my daughter, her health, her joy, her smile, and her kisses. But I admit, working full time and having an absent parent can be really hard. Sometimes I just want to get in my car after work, come home, and lay down. (Do you remember when you could just lay down? “I’m just going to lay down.” Fuck yeah. If you don’t have kids yet, please take this moment, wherever you are, to just lay down. Your days of laying down are already numbered.)
Arkansas Husband works too. Hard. In very difficult and emotionally-charged situations. But sometimes I wonder…does he have any idea just what in the hell goes on in my life with the absent parent? Well, he got to find out a few weeks ago when I was out of town at a conference, and he was home alone with our daughter.
When I got home I listened as he described waking up earlier than usual to feed her (loudly respond “oh my”), getting her ready, packing lunch, and loading up the car. (“Yikes.”) Dropping her off and getting to work on time. (Nodding head.) Rushing from work to pick her up before 5:30! (“That’s crazy!”) Snacks, dinner, clean up, bath, and bedtime. (“Oh geez, yeah.”) She fussed and got up during the night? (“That’s the worst.”) And then, by the time she was down, being too tired to do anything other than go to sleep. (Guttural sound in the affirmative.)
Outwardly, I was empathetic and understanding because he’s right, it is really hard. But inwardly, I admit, my soul cracked a smile.