Not Without My Husband
I have a question that’s more a “what do other people do in this situation?”
Background – Spouse and I have family mostly in our state, but one of my parents lives several states away. In the past we’ve traveled there together for holidays, but I’ve occasionally gone by myself if his schedule doesn’t work with the planned visit. All fine and good – it’s my family after all.
Now we have an 18 month old. Her first year we made a “no traveling for holidays” rule and it worked fine. This year, we’ve been planning a family trip for Thanksgiving. The original plan was for all three of us to travel with several other family members to my aunt’s house (which happens to be a short distance from my out of state parent.) Now it looks like spouse’s work schedule won’t allow for that trip. It’s not a matter of asking for time off – He has occasional big company events that he has to attend. We haven’t made a final decision about the trip, but he is (obviously) leaning towards us all staying home. He wouldn’t get angry if I insisted on going anyway, but I feel like I shouldn’t want to go if he can’t.
Am I selfish for wanting to go anyway? Of course I hate to have him spend the holiday without us, but he’ll be working all but Thanksgiving day. This means the majority of the holiday is me home alone with a toddler and no one else around while the rest of my family is off having fun. He has plenty of family in the area so it’s not like he’ll be alone on Thanksgiving day. I feel like a horrible person for even suggesting that he stay home and let us go, but I really want to go… Is this just one of those things that you have to do when you have a kid – stay home if both parents can’t travel? Our work schedules are such that this may come up again. We never travel to see any of his out of town family (his choice) so there’s not equivalent situation on his side.
Is staying home if both parents can’t travel just “one of those things that you have to when you have a kid”? Uhh, not that I’ve heard? Or done? In fact, I have indeed traveled to visit family with my child yet without my spouse.
I actually thought your question was going in a completely different direction — that your out-of-state family was putting pressure on you to make a trip you didn’t want to make because they wanted to see the baaaaaby, and you were going to ask if you had an obligation to leave your husband home alone and go supply the requested grandchild at Thanksgiving. To which I would have answered: Dude, it’s your family and your holiday, do whatever YOU want to do.
But then I read that you actually DO want to make the trip, which is really nice, and you know I’m a fan of fostering whatever extended family bonds you can after having kids, and…I’m not sure my answer is any different. You say your husband won’t get angry — I sense he might be a little bummed out at being alone, but this isn’t exactly a new thing with this job I take it? Just extra annoying timing? — and he won’t really be alone-alone on Thanksgiving, thanks to in-town family. I’d say what IS more of “one of those things” you do after having kids is…well, take the kid home for holidays, even when the situation isn’t 100% ideal, because that’s often the only time extended family gets to see them.
But that’s really not what’s going on here. It doesn’t sound like your family is putting pressure on you (YAY FAMILY!), and that you just want to spend Thanksgiving with them like you have in the past, but feel guilty about…taking your daughter away from her father for the holiday? Breaking the united three-person front of your household? Understandable, but…having a baby shouldn’t mean forfeiting all things beyond your new little family, especially if you don’t WANT to.
Talk to your husband and tell him how you feel. That you really want to make the trip anyway, for a lot of reasons. That while you know it will suck to not all be together on Thanksgiving day, you’re just not sure trading all those lonely days before and after Thanksgiving while he works non-stop is an even trade for you. Maybe work out a compromise of making the trip a little shorter? Promise to bring a laptop and webcam with you, so he can see and talk to his daughter? Work out a bargain involving where to spend the December holidays?
If he reacts by throwing his arms around your shins and wailing “don’t leeeeeeeeave meeee!” then maybe you might need to talk things over a little more and re-think just how badly you want to go. But I don’t sense that will happen. I sense you maybe just need to hear that traveling alone on Thanksgiving to see family is not some crazy unheard-of cardinal sin of new motherdom. Because it’s not. Really, just…not.Published September 10, 2010. Last updated July 22, 2017.