R. is off on a trip, I’m holding down the fort. Our relationship has involved traveling since we first started dating, almost 18 years ago. He went away to school and I stayed home. Four years, back and forth. Then, after we married he got a job that required him to travel. Not much, but enough. Then another job, with longer trips. Now the trips are shorter, just a day or so. I still miss him when he goes, I still make him call me as soon as he lands. It’s still so exciting to see him walk through the door when he returns. Of course, now he’s got three fans waiting to see him. Madelyn has just started to notice his absence. She gets sad when he’s not here to read her goodnight stories, she misses him at the dinner table. She wants to hear about his meetings and the big buildings in New York City. I used to feel really sad when he was gone, it would take me a while to perk back up after he left. I’ve gotten used to things. The kids keep me on auto-pilot, I just have to keep going until I get them into bed. Just keep moving. But once they are asleep, and the house is quiet, I still get that little empty feeling, like something’s missing. I’m pretty confident in my skills as a mother, but there’s something inside me that still feels like he is the protector, the one who keeps us safe. Even though he sleeps like a rock, and I would hear anything in the house before he would. There’s something about having him here that makes everything better.