Mark’s company is in the midst of a merger, and while we are fairly confident that this will mean only good things for our family, it’s still been awfully stressful lately in a totally bipolar way.

A couple weeks ago, we started feeling the pre-merger slump and Mark’s hours were cut. Which means that his paycheck was also cut. I know what you’re thinking. Wow, that must make your renewed dedication to a monthly budget pretty tough! You’re right. But that wasn’t the biggest irritation we faced.

The worst part about Mark not working was having my husband at home. I know that sounds awful. But the fact is that we’ve become accustomed to having our own space and alone time, and trying to coexist in our tiny house (while also worrying about the reduced paycheck) proved to be quite difficult. I tried to stop myself from snapping at Mark, and – bless his heart – he tried to stay out of my way. All the while, we both felt so frustrated knowing that we should appreciate this extra, unexpected time together!

We’d finally adjusted and calmed down when Mark’s company decided to send him out of town to work. For six days. Beginning just a few days after getting the call. He did have a choice, but he knew that the extra money from working out of town would go a long way toward evening out our budget. And it was just a week.

THEN, after managing a week of being apart, Mark called me last Friday with more bad news. They needed him to stay another week.

All I could say was, “I don’t understand.” Because seriously? TWO WEEKS away from home? No. That is NOT okay with this wife and mama!

Mark came up with an idea for surviving. (Not that our daily family phone calls weren’t great, but we needed some face time!) He asked me to put Annalyn – who was refusing to take a nap when he called – in the car and drive up to him. We could spend the weekend together, then make it through one more week apart.

He was asking me to spend 18 hours in the car over a 48-hour time period – with a three-year-old!!

I was so flustered after that phone call. I’d had grand plans for the rest of the day. Annalyn and I were going to make sure the house was picked up, and I was going to hustle to get all the clean laundry put away and the floors vacuumed. And I had a nice dinner planned, too. I don’t like it when my plans are changed!

But more than changed plans, I dislike being apart from my husband even more. So, I packed a bag full of snacks, books, Pull-Ups and movies, and we hit the road.

To Annalyn’s credit, she was really good for most of our weekend driving. Between watching the DVD player my parents gave her for Christmas and sleeping, she was a pretty quiet passenger. (For the most part. I’m not saying we didn’t have any moments, just not that many.)

And we had a great time together – “all the fam-uh-lee,” as Annalyn says.

But when we got ready to leave and drive home? I was so sad.

What happened? Aren’t I the same wife who was annoyed with her husband for simply taking up space on my our couch?! The one who yelled at him for having the nerve to want to use my our computer?!

I guess what they say is true: Absence does make the heart grow fonder. And sad. Because I couldn’t stop the tears that surprised me as we all hugged goodbye.

(The question is, of course: Was I crying because I didn’t want to leave Mark – or because I was facing a long road trip through the corn fields of Nebraska with a preschooler? I KID. Of course I was sad to leave my husband! Sheesh!)

Married folks, have you ever had to be apart from your spouse for a long time? How do you cope? And how do you help your kids cope?

Image by Marxchivist.

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