Advice Column

Husbands Who Work Away

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Henriette’s husband has been working away from home for 1 year and 4 months now. Constance’s husband has also been working away for two years now. Both husbands work in Zambia. The two moms say the impact is huge and you should get ready to do some crying . Being both the mom and dad is difficult and emotionally isolating work.

Henriette’s husband who is shaft design specialist, works away for 10 weeks at a time and then comes home for 2 weeks. Constance’s husband who is a training manager in heavy lifting equipment works away for 8 weeks at a time and comes home for 2 weeks.
The compromises and adjustments made by moms who spouse travel and work a lot take their toll. Constance says that she has had pains in parts of her body she didn’t know where possible to get. She does at times feel the strain and a phone call to her husband can cheer her up as he reminds her why they have made this choice. Constance says that it is her love for her husband and 2 year old twins, 7 year old son and 9 year old daughter that keep her emotionally strong.

Henriette who is mom to a 6 year old son and 3 year old twin boys has commented how it can be very hard some days, you need to be mommy and daddy 24/7. She found it became a bit easier to cope when she started working again. it took her mind off the loneliness. Me- time is important for any mom of multiples and more so when you find yourself being two parents.

When asked why the families made this choice it was very clear it comes down to the economic climate in South Africa. The mine that Henriette’s husband worked for closed down in 2013 and because of her husbands age and BEE he could not find another position in any other mines.
A support system is very important. Henriette moved from Hartbeespoort to Mosselbay at the end of last year. It was becoming unsafe for them in Harties. Now they do not have any family around but have found a lady who has turned out to be a real gem, she looks after the children after school should Henriette need to work late

Constance has the support of good friends and a wonderful domestic worker that loves the children.
The question for everyone is have the children managed to form a strong bond with their dad as he is not always at home. Constance always jokes and says that when he comes home she is forgotten about. Their dad changes nappies, feeds and does everything else relating to the children. He has made every effort to connect with them
Henriette’s children ask how many more sleeps until dad comes home. The children miss their dad and realise that he is as much part of their lives as their mom.
The advantage of having to make the sacrifice of being apart is that both families are able to provide for their children and educate them the way they want to. The disadvantage is that the children really miss their dad and dad can miss out on the developments and activities that take place each day with the children.
This way of living is not for the feint hearted, if you are willing to make sacrifices then Constance would recommend it for any family. Her husband was without work for 4 months and she saw him break down and pray and beg for work so that he could provide for his family. She would do it again in a heartbeat. Henriette says that it is not the best option for family life but it is do able. It is hard on family life and you can feel like a single mom. She has realised that she can cope without her husband,but she doesn’t want to.

We as mothers of multiples sometimes underestimate what we can do. We are super mommies, we can do anything that we put our minds to.

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