Today I flew home to Vermont to see my family. The 45 minute car ride to the airport, followed by an hour long flight to Dublin, going through security (again) and US Customs, then a 6 ½ hour flight only to be followed by a 3 hour bus ride and then an hour drive after. The fact that I get to do all of this again next Sunday (except with longer flights) is a bit less fun still. It’s not bad – I don’t mind flying. It’s kind of like commuting to work. You figure out which audio books to listen to or which radio station you like and you make the best of it. Total travel time = 18 1/2 hours door to door. The reason that this has become a bit of a norm in my life all has to do with compromise.
Stuart and I are gearing up to head back to the ship. He has been on his leave from work since the end of October (aside from when he had to go to his training course in the Netherlands for a week). This life has some really great parts and some really hard parts.
The great part is that when he is off of work he is off work for 3 months in a row. When I am over in Scotland where neither of us have to go to work, we can have a lazy Sunday on a Wednesday and if we want to stay up late watching tv we can, and we can have lazy days where I take a bubble bath and then we go walk which is a nice little loop that brings us by a sheep pasture and a canal that usually has swans in it in the winter and ducks in the summer.
The absolute hardest part is that we are always missing someone. When we are in Scotland I miss my family in Vermont, when we are in Vermont, Stuart misses his family in Scotland; if Stuart is on the ship and I stay in Vermont I am missing Stuart, and if we are both on the ship we are both missing our families. Needless to say a lot of compromise and understanding has become a cornerstone of making this work.
The compromise that we have is largely that we spend a month of his leave in Vermont, and then he spends a bit more than that in Scotland, plus or minus a week in either direction. We focus more of his time on leave to Scotland time because I do not typically sail for his entire contract, and for the part that I’m not on the ship I get to spend some extra time at home in Vermont with my family. This time he is going on the World Cruise though, so since I can sail with him… I might as well. More time with my husband and I get to explore a bunch of new countries? Sweet! Except, that would mean being away from home for quite awhile (close to 5 months… which if I was working I don’t mind doing but when you’re not working then it seems weird to me.)
My compromise with this is that I wanted to go home and spend a bit of time with my family before going to join him on the ship. So, now we have a week apart, after which we will get three months together.
We realize that in the future sailing for three months at a time won’t always be an option. Part of why I’m sailing with him so much now is that the reality is that at some point when we decide that we want to have kids (and we are lucky enough to be able to) I won’t be able to sail with Stuart nearly as much. That means that a day like next Sunday when Stuart flies to work wouldn’t be a day where I was also getting on a plane too, instead I would be watching him go through security, waving goodbye, and spending the next three months apart.
Those three months together when he doesn’t have to work are wonderful, and thus far the longest we’ve had to go without seeing each other was just about two months, but we know what’s coming. We see it with our friends on the ship.
The worst part of these flights aren’t the flights themselves. Today I am flying towards my family, with my mom and grandma coming to pick me up from the bus station, but to do that today I had to fly away from my husband.
On Sunday I will be flying towards my husband and many friends on the ship but away from all of my family in Vermont.
Compromise is the only way to make it work, and it is ever evolving. We are trying to figure up how to split up the summer when Stuart is off the ship. There is a family reunion in Scotland, as well as his birthday and my grandma’s birthday, later in the summer is my mom’s birthday (when he is already on the ship), and somewhere in the middle is a concert we’d like to go to (in Scotland). We have to talk about which things are the most important for us to be at, and balance it out. Compromise between missing each other and missing family time, compromise between less money in our bank account and that extra flight that allows you to be at home for something important.
We are still figuring out how to make it all work. And, for the next week I will miss my hubby, but we both will get some really quality family time.
Do you live far away from family? Are you and your significant other from different places? What kind of balance have you found?