We all know that my husband is the source of all my best material.
He was home briefly recently and what I came to realize was how much I missed his rhythm.
I miss silly things like listening to his end of phone calls.
I miss how he makes an anecdote out of everything that happens to him and as he retells it, it gets refined and therefore funnier every time.
I miss following him around the house while he makes short order of things I find hard, couldn’t lift, or don’t know how to do.
I even miss him holding up the dishes in the rack and pointing out where I failed to get the pot clean saying,”Come over here while I show you how to do it right, and talk to me.”
It’s nice to have someone actually want to talk with you. When they aren’t there any more, guess what happens?
You end up talking to yourself. And your spirit guides. Frequently.
He always worked very long hours and sometimes I didn’t see him, except to sleep next to him, for months at a time. But it is different when you know the person is coming home that night, every night, rather than once every few months for a week.
Last year we went through a six month stretch where we barely saw him. He’d come home covered in construction debris and I got to gauge how exhausted he was based on the appearance of his clothes and if his head was covered with concrete dust or not.
Concrete dust meant he’d jackhammered all day cutting out concrete. If his clothes seemed fairly clean he wouldn’t be too bad but if he came in at 9pm and you could tell that he’d gotten soaked, dried out and gotten soaked again (yes, you can tell this by the way the clothes hang) then it had been one hell of a day.
Whether or not a job ended up being profitable, he always worked, day after day, weekends included, to earn money for the family.
After 19 years you get used to someone. When they’ve been gone for half a year and you’ve seen them very little, you suddenly realize things you should have realized long before.
The hardest realization was that when he comes home every few months for a week, I don’t get to spend it with him.
I get to go to work.
“He’s home!” turns into,”Well I’ll see him on Sunday for a while and then for a couple of hours every night this week and then…crap, he’ll be leaving for the airport at 6am Saturday morning, just when I have the whole weekend free!”
It was like an action scene in a movie where the pivotal moment arrives and everything goes into slow motion for a second and then zooms back into real-time and the character is shocked into transformation.
Obviously I should have realized this before, but when you’ve waited months to see someone and then you have to wait months again and you get so little time in between well, it’s an adjustment and it can easily breed resentment if you are not very careful.
There seems to be so much that has to happen during the short time he’s here. Other people want to see him too. He has the house to fix. On this recent visit he had medical tests that needed to get done and he wasn’t feeling well the whole time.
He wants to cram in as much time as he can with the kids. The bright side is we did get to go Trick Or Treating as a family. He met me for lunch one day and though I picked the place he met and introduced me to all of the wait staff who I had never noticed before when going there with work colleagues. He made me laugh. It might have been some of the only smiles I cracked since he’s been away.
Where Have All The Smiles Gone? Oh The Hypocrisy
At first I was disoriented and worried about how I would manage the house when things broke down.
I got over that and cut all of the activities out for the kids, which is regretful but with a day job and two kids in two schools there is only so much time in a day. I’d like to be doing soccer, boxing, boy scouts, or just stopping by the short basketball nets after work but mostly it can’t be done because by then it’s dark. Yes, I feel like I am cheating the kids.
I’ve realized that I cannot depend on someone else to bring joy into my life every day, I have to assess the situation and make my own life, should I find it lacking (I do, very much so).
It doesn’t matter if the work day is very busy or if there is absolutely nothing to do – I still have to show up. As ridiculous as this may sound, that REALLY bothers me. For someone who has worked in the 9-5 world her whole life, I do not fit in it.
I don’t believe in “marking time” or “putting the time in.”
I believe only in “getting the job done” and having clients who are happy and satisfied we’ve gone above and beyond.
That means I am Project Oriented. Imagine someone who zips through their analysis in 5 minutes, emails flying everywhere, documentation stored away, done. Then what do we do with the rest of the day?
I would spend it with my husband, if he were home.
A couple of times in my “career” I’ve been in the situation where I’ve been told,”I don’t really care as long as you get the work done, but these other people are complaining that you get more breaks than they do” (or, are outside on smoke breaks for too long or, aren’t putting in a full day) etc.
When I first had a baby I was in that situation where you are out a lot and I had a laptop so I would work at 4am to make up the time if there was work to be done, but that never mattered. What mattered was did they see my face from 9am until 6pm? Usually, they didn’t.
So for many years I’ve known that Appearances not Productivity are what is important in the corporate world, and that backstabbers and snipers are everywhere, and I’ve learned not to care.
I’m grateful for the income and the health insurance that each job has given me, don’t get me wrong. Most days going to work is a pleasure, at every job I have ever had, because the work is easy and I am good at it after twenty-some years. I love winning accounts and out-thinking the competition.
But on the days where I have somewhere else I really need to be, so I can come back refreshed to fight another day for income for the firm, I’d like to be able to be there. And that is not possible. Knowing that there are people around the corner making notes when I go to the bathroom, or marking exactly how long I was gone from my desk, when they themselves gossip themselves silly all day behind closed doors for an hour and a half “having a meeting” or “working” on their iphones for a couple of hours a day at their desk, is just a bit too much hypocrisy for me.
When you don’t fit, and the dissonance gets to be too much for your system to take, you know it’s your soul calling you onward to something else.
You Can Be Swamped And Bored Out Of Your Mind At The Same Time
I don’t mind doing the laundry, but I do mind spending weekends – all weekend – cleaning. I do not get people who love to clean. One of the other mothers at school just calls it “doing what needs to be done.” She’s right, but if you can get a maid service in, more’s the better in my mind.
I will fold laundry while talking on the phone, so I don’t notice I’ve been folding laundry.
My mind has to be engaged. I cannot do mindless stuff that will just get messed up right behind me, with all of my free time.
I need to be helping people. I need to be writing. I need to be chatting and getting intuitive information in. I need to have people in my life who are willing to have philosophical discussions just for the sake of learning, growing and getting different ideas in to percolate around our systems. I need banter. I need jokes. I need the funny spin people put on the daily events in their life. I need to read. I need to walk and move the body around to shake off the day and while I’m doing it I need to listen to music or podcasts.
This is what makes life fun and joyful for me.
It is not the dishes.
Not really sorry, but just throwing that out to those who, in the past, may have expressed some irritability or shouting in regards to my inability to wipe off a knife and put it away immediately in the drawer after I have made peanut butter sandwiches, and who may have lectured middle-aged me about it.
Look, go ahead and spend your life cleaning. I don’t care.
But do not tell me how to behave or I will show you the door.
I may learn from you, but did it ever occur to you that you can learn from me?
Life is not about clean knives.
Life is about interaction, finding your joy, doing your work, being in communion with your soul about what’s next.
Life is about finding the love, spreading hope and charity, matching up people who can help one another.
OK maybe some of you (not here) really were sent to make sure there are no crumbs in the knife drawer, the sink is always tidy, and there is no mess in the car.
I look at it like this. That disgusting mess in my car should be corralled once a week, but if you catch it on a Tuesday and there are twenty books all over the floor in the backseat, it means my kids read.
You will never find a better way to live your life than following your instincts and listening to your intuition and taking action in that moment.
If other things pile up, so be it.