Here's the arrangement that makes our new living situation palatable to two people who think we as Americans use way too much gas. Jason spends two nights a week sleeping on an air mattress in a warehouse sixty miles away.
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This is a strain in some ways, but one of the perks is that most of the time he only works away from home four days a week instead of five. We're a solid month into this system, and I would give it an A+ so far. However, Jason finds being away from us hard at times; I am reluctant to put words in his mouth, but I would get lonely in his shoes. Also, our first plan was for him to be home Wednesdays, but this made to disjointed a week for him. He said it felt like he had two Mondays. This is the second week we are trying a longer weekend instead.
On our end, it has a few problems, like I have to make breakfast two more mornings and there is no one to call in as back up when I feel at the end of my tether. The children definitely ask for him as we sit around the dinner table, and all the funny stories have to be told over the phone. I have to avoid troubling thoughts as I lie down for the night; I absolutely must never think of the genocide and rapes in Rwanda, for example, as I am beginning to drift off. Also, I get lonely for the person I like best in all the world.
On the other hand, I get to parent without checking to see how Jason feels. If I want all three kids in bed by 7:00, I can do it. If it seems fair to let Ezra wander around outside while the girls are going to bed, I can say yes. I can serve ice cream or tomatoes and cheese for dinner. It also means I have to check myself on whether I am being reasonable in a discipline situation.
I think this plan is working, but we will have to monitor the toll it is taking over time. There will be times in winter when the weather or the Christmas rush will force the plans this way, and then, perhaps, the resentment will build. But, maybe, we'll all get used to it, we'll tank up on Jason's specialness when he's around, and then send him off full of our love for another couple of days.