This awesome vintage photograph was sourced from the State Library of Victoria’s digital image library.
Recently my husband was away on a work trip. This doesn’t happen very often. In fact, the week he recently spent in Asia is the longest we’ve been apart since we were married. (I know, sorry if that made you bring up your coffee just a little). I do not pretend that my week without my love is anything like the months those in FIFO families experience, but it did give me a teeny tiny window into that kind of life.
Here’s what went down.
The week that he went away coincided with swimming week at school. Because our little Catholic school doesn’t have a pool on-site, there is a dedicated swimming week in the summer terms. The kids are bussed out to a pool about 15 minutes away each day for a 30 minute lesson. It was a week we were warned about at the beginning of term. They will be tired, we were told. They might be cranky, we were told. They will be slightly feral towards Friday, we were told. Your husband won’t be there to help you deal with the inevitable meltdown, I was not told.
My darling husband normally bathes and puts the baby to bed. That’s his bit in the evening. On the first night without DH we had our first brown incident in the bath and I swear baby E looked terribly impressed with himself about it. Master I had managed to avoid that particular milestone and so this was an unexpected first. Thankfully, Master I thought it was hilarious being in the bath with floating poo. I was concerned that he would scream the house down (which is what I would have done as a child and sort of felt like doing aside from the fact I was supposed to be the responsible adult). It was the kind of horror I would laugh about if DH was there but seemed a tragedy without him.
I really don’t receive too many week night invitations to fun events. That week, I received three that I had to decline. Not bitter. Not at all.
On the Saturday after DH left I took the boys for a swim over at Southbank. Generally a solid idea. Then we went to get ice-cream. Kiddie cones were $4.80. A double scoop cone was $5.20. I am not paying nearly $10 when I can spend $5 for the same thing I thought. They can share I thought. Master I chose the most disgusting rainbow flavour. Fine, I am not eating it I thought. Cue Baby E demanding his share of the ice-cream and Master I being unwilling to deliver on it. An ice-cream way too large for either of them to handle, rapidly melting in the sun. Baby E insisting on holding the way-too-large ice-cream because he is independent now and doesn’t need any help. Baby E succeeding in smushing the ice-cream into his face but not actually eating any of it. Master I screaming about Baby E eating too much. Master I terribly upset at the state of the smushed ice-cream. Me having to eat some of the ice-cream (rainbow bubble gum is a taste with no redeeming features) to get back into a manageable shape. $5.20 ice-cream eventually ending up in bin. Two thoughts: 1) This would have never happened if DH was here. 2) Why didn’t I order it in a cup and insist on a flavour I actually like?
We did discover the wonderful world of FaceTime and the boys loved it. It’s quite amazing just how long you can converse with a baby using only the worlds “Hello”, “Buh-Bye” and frantic waving actions. Although Baby E seemed convinced that his daddy had somehow moved into the phone. He is still occasionally pointing to it and saying “Dada”.
In some ways the week went better than I thought it would. We found our groove and I can imagine that for those living the FIFO lifestyle, it must be tricking continually shift gears. On the night DH returned, the boys were excited and unsettled and for the first time in a long time Baby E woke up repeatedly. I can’t quite imagine dealing with that all the time.