On Saturday evening, my husband picked me up from work. As I rested against the car door, eyes closed, I heard him say, “You know, if we weren’t so in love, we’d be in an awful lot of trouble right now.”
He was speaking of our schedules. Our rotten, conflicting schedules. Our work weeks aren’t entirely in synch, leaving only one day that the two of us share any time off, and sometimes not even that. Additionally, we both work non-traditional hours, one or both of us arriving home around 8:00 at night. Some days it seems like the only two sentences we manage to exchange are, “Have a good day.” And, “I’m going to bed.” (That last one might be a boon to the relationship if it was spoken with a come-thither look of invitation, but it isn’t. I tend to deliver it with the sternest of tones, the unspoken, emotional context being, “I am going to bed. To sleep. And if you disturb my blessed slumber for any reason, I will remove your heart with my bare hands.” Luckily, he has been married to me long enough to recognize the danger…I get really tired, people. )
There is only ever one of us available to deal with the children’s shenanigans, swooping in like the Lone Ranger, making decisions that our spouse may find questionable. (Well, not mine. My decisions are unerringly correct, obviously. It’s just a shame I can’t be there more frequently. You know, so he could benefit from my supreme wisdom.) We pretty much tag team single parent the crew and hope for the best.
Being that I come from the land of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I can’t help but think it might have been easier to stay connected back in the days before highways and cell phones and office politics, back when the long grasses covered the prairie. Back then, we would have spent our days together, working side by side to sustain our family through the harsh Minnesota winters. We would have stood firm in our common purpose. Maybe. Or maybe we would have spent all our time bickering about whose fault it was that the mule died or Little Carrie was eaten by wolves. You can’t know. There’s also the chance that I would have made a terrible pioneer. That, my love of making both homemade soap and fresh pies aside, I would have taken one look at that crappy lean-to with it’s wax paper windows and run off with the traveling Watkins salesman the very first chance I got, seduced by the promise of a store-bought dress and all the vanilla extract my heart desired.
My point being, it’s hard. It’s hard to balance work and kids and outside interests and friends and spouses. Thank god I’m married to someone with the foresight to say something before we’ve drifted, irrevocably, apart. And hopefully, the solution isn’t even difficult; breakfast dates. Doesn’t that sound like fun? A time to connect before the day really kicks in, before any work or kid related issues rear an ugly head. Besides, put a plate of pancakes in front of me, and I can pretty much promise that I will be delightful company. Nothing makes me as happy as pancakes–which puts hubby way ahead of the Watkins guy.