The stranger in my home

I’ve waited a long time since my last post to start blogging again. Not that I had nothing to write about, rather because I was afraid of being judged for what I wanted to say. It’s 3:00 am, 2 days since my daughter turned 1 and I’ve finally plucked up the courage to do this. To hold true to my blog name and confess.

My husband and I have known each other for 9 years now and we’ve been married for almost 2 years. He is perfect in my eyes. Our life was simple and yet filled with happiness. And then it happened. FIFO. For those of you who have lost me, FIFO or fly in – fly out is a rather common mode of work in Australia where employees fly to a remote location to work and fly back to be with family during their R&R (rest and relaxation) period. Plenty of families do it, they seem fine and I feel like a loser for crying over it but this is a confession. A confession of the painful instances I watch my husband, the father of my child become a stranger. The difficulties of being a single parent though still married.

My daughter thinks the phone is her Papa

Sounds hilarious doesn’t it? Every time I pick up the phone to talk to someone, my 1 year old goes ‘Papa Papa Papa’. It was really sweet when she did it while he was at work. It took me a while to realise that even if he was right in front of her, she only said ‘Papa’ when the phone rang. She has no clue who he is. She doesn’t recognise the man who slogs away for 26 days to give her the best. She doesn’t understand it’s Mama and Papa. In her world, there seems to be only Mama and someone else who visits.

There is never truly a dad-daughter time

Due to the nature of his work, my husband has never been constantly around since my pregnancy. He tries very hard to bond with her and she tries too. Sadly, it mostly ends up in tears if I move away for more than five minutes. Having been away most of the time, he doesn’t understand her routine, her likes and dislikes or her cues. I watch him as he desperately tries to let her know how much she means to him. I watch him give up. I hold her in my arms as she cries and clings on to me. I watch him once again withdraw into his shell.

The loneliness

I am surrounded with wonderful family and friends. Yet, I feel all alone. There is a reason why your partner is called your other half. I feel alone as I watch other dads pick up their wife and kids from playgroup. I feel alone on those difficult days that I don’t have him to take over night feeds. I feel alone at social gatherings. I feel alone on birthdays and anniversaries. I feel alone in the silence that fills my heart.

The imaginary conversations

As I go through the day, I make mental notes. I have imaginary conversations in my head. Things I want to say when my phone rings at 6.30pm. It rings at that time without fail but conversations are mostly one way. On several occasions, I have even thought to myself that I should consider a career as a radio jockey. I do seem to have acquired the skill of talking out aloud to myself and laughing at my own jokes.

The awkward date

Nine years of knowing each other and I never thought this day will come. We decided we needed some lone time. We dressed up and headed for date night. It was a nice venue. A far cry from Nandos where we usually celebrated special occasions during uni. That day, I wished I was back in Nandos. After discussing our daughter and kitchen renovation, he had nothing to say to me. I prodded on, determined to bring him back to our own lives. I failed. He is so used to being alone that he struggles with having to share his personal space. Our date night concluded within the hour. My favourite pink lipstick and the top which always made me feel beautiful failed me. I felt like crap.

He has always been a wonderful husband and father, an excellent provider. But somewhere, somehow, we are struggling. Struggling in ways we don’t even necessarily understand. It must be so hard to be out of sync with your own family, to be a stranger in your own home. A home where every month a new milestone is reached, routines have changed and you’ve been left out. One thing is for sure. Someday the stranger will leave. My husband will come back home. Till then I will hold on to my hope and sanity.

And no matter how many times I do it, I will tear as I drop him at the airport and drive back home. Many women do it, many FIFO wives talk about sucking it up and this post could possibly be considered sappy. I don’t care. No matter how strong and capable you are, somewhere deep down you miss your partner. That can’t change.

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