I am in grad school, and dh is just about finished with his PhD. He had hoped to get a writing fellowship for this year, which, along with my stipend, would have enabled us to get by. That didn't come through, but he had simultaneously gone on the market, and managed to land a pretty decent job. The catch is that it's 7 hours drive away. I still have a year of coursework left, so I'm in university city with both kids. We'll join him next June, and I can study for my comprehensive exams and write my dissertation from there. Dh comes here two to three weekends a month, and the kids and I video chat with him several times a day (I was skeptical about it at first, but it's been a lifesaver).
I know things could be much worse. We have a solid, supportive relationship, he has a job in a piss-poor economy, and there's a definite end to the separation. But this sucks. I'm lonely, and don't have much of a support system. I'm a woman in a field dominated by men, and all my peers are childless. My semester starts on Monday, and I feel stressed just thinking about starting classes and TAing (to say nothing of an impending work deadline).
Has anyone out there done this? Did you survive? With career/sanity/relationships intact?
I have spent the last 5 months away from my DH, he's in the US working, I'm back in our native country with our 15mo dd. It's so hard and it totally sucks! I can't wait for the end of October, when we get to be together again... Video chatting is a total life saver and it helps the one who is away from the kids to watch them grow. When I left, our DD was 10mo, now 5 months later she can walk, babbles away all day, communicates much better, things you can't just put in an email! And she loves to see her dad on the screen, when it gets near the time when we usually chat she will go to her high-chair and shout "daddy! daddy!" so I can put her in her chair and take her to the computer.
The thing is, we had to do the same thing last year, when he had to leave for the US (to begin a graduate degree) on my EDD! We had to induce our baby so that he could be there for her birth (both for practical and emotional reasons) and then for her first 3 months we were also apart. This was tremendously hard on both of us, imagine being a new mom and not having your partner with you (and I had minimal help from relatives or friends) and then imagine being a dad and having a new baby and not being able to see it. After we all got together, I swore up and down I would never do this again, but, alas, life has an uncanny ability to hand you lemons from the same tree over and over again hehe
One reason I would never want to do this again for so long is that you learn to live without your partner, and that kind of sucks, it feels like being on your own, dealing with the difficult parts alone and eveything, kwim?
Yes. DH and I are living apart. The kids are with me, and we don't get to see him often at all. It wasn't originally the plan for this to extend as long as it has, but eh- life happens.
Oddly, it was hard for the first month or so, and after that- though I miss him a lot, once I got into the swing of things it hasn't been too bad. We Skype a lot- that's the best thing for the kids in so many ways. They miss him, but it really does maintain a good healthy connection.
It's hard for him- he's lonely, but it's meant he's really been able to focus on building his career. It's hard for me because I'm alone with 3.5 kids, and due in a couple months with #4. THAT has been tiring, but not horrible. We've really needed to learn to be independent which- really- has been a positive thing, but I have learned a lot about myself through this time.
My career? Eh- I'll be honest, one of the driving forces behind this decision was that I would be able to focus on building my career from home without having to work for someone else, and that for now my priority would be the family first, and career second. Oddly enough though, I have created more income over the past year than the two before it combined. I suspect that has more to do with already having built up those connections than it does with my being on my own. I don't use childcare, so my work hours (about 25 a week) are fit in around kids, and occasionally with kids underfoot and awake.
I think it is one of those situations where how you choose to react and the view you choose to adopt has a huge impact on the experience. I don't let myself wallow in feeling alone or overwhelmed. I don't let myself resent that I am doing ALL the kid stuff 24/7 with no help. The times those thoughts do intrude, I feel myself becoming miserable, and I make an effort to change my thought pattern. My husband slept in until 11 am over the weekend- initially I found myself thinking, 'Must be nice!' So then I thought about the fact that what he had to wake up to was an empty house devoid of kids, and I realized that the grass probably looked greener from his side of the fence as well. We just work together to keep our eye on the long-term goal, and see the current situation as a stepping stone.
DS and I spent 5 months in another country where I had received a prestigious fellowship. The original plan was for DH to be able to work out of his company's office there. That fell through and DS and I went on our own. It was a challenge but was a great experience. I did have lots of support from the other fellows. We were all in the same boat of being in a new city short-term, some of us with kids. There was instant comaraderie , which was great.
We skyped a lot. DH has a set skype date with DS every weekend morning and they played together via skype! DH was able to come over for one long weekend. We made it work and it was worth it, but there was a very set ending point, which made it easier.
I was in a different situation, since I am separated from my ex completely. But, I finished my last 4 semesters of law school as a single mom, in a city 3,000 miles from my family and any type of support network. My ex took ds for their visitation, but he's not helpful or supportive in any other way. It's totally do-able. Good luck!