Husband and I sat down yesterday and made a list of all the things we still have to do to make our move to Moscow happen in just over one month's time. Bugger, there's a lot of stuff on it. Throughout this planning process I found myself fighting back the stress-yawns that any type of house-move always prompts from me (it appears my 'fight or flight' instinct is in fact a 'fight or stay on the spot and take a quick nap' instinct), and I have to admit that it did occur to me - more than once - to wonder; 'Why are we doing this, again?'
I know too that this is a question that friends and family ask themselves privately - and not so privately, on occasion. I mean, we could just maintain the status quo; Husband flying backwards and forwards every week, the Boys and I safely ensconsced in London and just seeing him for 2 - 3 days every weekend. I could continue to hold the fort on the home-front whilst my beloved brings home the Russian bacon.
But that would be wrong on so many different levels, I can't contemplate it. Manic though the next few weeks are going to be, we can't continue as we are doing. Not only because it is important for our sons that they get more time with their father (and for our marriage that their parents get to spend time together too), or that the constant travelling - for him - and solo parenting - for me -is exhausting both of us, or even that moving to Moscow going to be a great adventure in our otherwise staid and middle-class life. No, the problem with leading life like this is, I've found, that when one parent is gone for a significant amount of time - in this case, approx 75% of the week, every week - it creates a vacuum.
All the e-mails, skype and telephone calls in the world can't hide the fact that there is a Husband-shaped hole in our family when he's not here, in London, with us.
That's bad enough, of course. But I'm aware - both from my own experience, and from that of friends who've found themselves in similar situations - that what happens subsequently, as the absences become more common-place than exceptional, is almost worse. The longer the situation continues the smaller that hole becomes, because as they say; Nature abhors a vacuum. So what happens is that the family left behind starts to expand to fill that hole. It's a coping mechanism, and there's nothing wrong with that. Except, of course, that in this instance the partner who is absent comes back every weekend, expecting to find the same space they left behind empty, open and waiting for them.
I recognise this. He recognises this. And we both recognise that it is not a long-term recipe for healthy relationship. So we're moving to Moscow.
On the plus side, every single thing that we ever thought 'I must get round to that someday / I must throw out / I must organise' is going to be sorted in the process. And I'm anally retentive enough to be quite excited about that...