Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thank you... and then (of course) More...

Yes, so, first THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR OUTPOURING OF LOVE AND SUPPORT! I am continually amazed at the absolutely incredible tribe of women I have somehow lucked into! Seriously, your love and authenticity with me is the wind beneath my wings...

Secondly, I need to clarify one very key word in that last rant. Okay, here's what I said: "But what I truly need is for somebody to come and relieve me." The key word being "somebody". I didn't actually mean you, or anyother somebody... Here's where I was actually going with that...
The way I see families and our culture and our world as a whole really working in this new age (acknowledging that things worked a lot different back when we were tribes, living communally, never being separated by walls or lot-lines or doorbells...) is for each family unit to find a way to thrive together. So the somebody I was referring to was actually my husband, and truly only my husband. I've been told before that we can't rely on our husbands for everything. I agree. Stay with me here, I apologize for the discombobulation of this post, but really want to get clear on this and there are a lot of thoughts racing around in my head.
Here's the thing: I could absolutely do this on my own. On the days when I know from the beginning that Brent will not be coming home before bedtime, I am more than fine (the key is not to be angry about it -- if I'm upset with Brent, then absolutely nothing goes right in the entire day, so assuming I'm totally accepting that he is working til all hours of the night, I am fine). The kids and I get into a rhythm together, we conserve our energy and our patience, we get to the end of the day far earlier than if daddy was expected, we have our nighttime cuddles and the day seems quite easy. If this was the norm every day, and there were no daddy in the picture (how sad would that be?! I can hardly type the words, truly) it would be a completely different story. I would have completely different expectations of myself -- hell, the world would have different expectations of me! There would be no promise of relief coming at 6, no 6:30, no maybe 7, no for sure by 7:30, oh, hopefully by 8, oh crap, it's just not going to happen tonight, thing, you know? I am NOT saying that it would be easier or better in any way, no, just that it would be DIFFERENT. There would be no subconscious ideals in my head about evenings spent playing catch with daddy or riding bikes as a family or playing a game on the living room floor or popcorn and a movie, only to face the actuality of having time only to brush teeth and go to bed unfulfilled.
The story I am working on is thankfully not a single-parenting story. No, what I'm dealing with is the potential for all my ideals, but the disappointment that one key person somehow is absent from the picture tooooo much of the time. My disappointments come from knowing that he somehow chooses this. Our frequent talks about it reveal that he wishes things were different. He would like to be home every day by 5, with an evening with his family bright and shiney ahead of him. But he hasn't got things nailed in quite yet at work to make that happen... market downturn, staff issues, owner expectations, etc. etc. Relevant? absolutely. Helpful in the heat of things? not at all. Listen, Pedar, I know you are really angry right now and I know a cuddle would help tremendously, but everyone's hungry, the sauce has just exploded all over the kitchen (i seriously need one of those handheld in-pan blenderizer things because hot sauce + blender = explosion and i seem to have one about every week... urgh!), Heidi just woke up from her 20 minute nap and is yelling for me and there's a dog outside chasing the alpacas. Daddy would be home, but Mr. K (owner) wants some reports by day end, two of the accountants have just declared they're pregnant and a homeowner wants to know why blah blah blah. Do you feel better now, honey? No? Me either. Please let me wipe the sauce off your feet and go read a book and don't need anything else from me until I call you to dinner or I might need to go outside and scream on the deck again and you know how much the neighbours love that!!!
And I think the fact that he wishes things were different makes it harder for me! Because I don't believe in wanting things one way yet living things another (which is what I'm doing right now and why this is all causing so much angst...) I believe in living an empowered and powerful life, of making real what our desires are, of manifesting the best life we can imagine,,,, and all that.
So what's in the way? Well, that's one thing I'm trying to sort out. Not just on a surface level, but in a heal-the-planet kind of way. Our culture simply does not put family first. I keep telling my husband that he could be the trend-setter, the refreshing change at work, the one who has as much integrity with his family as he does with Mr. K. He could be as unwilling to be "late" to us as he would be for a managers meeting. Somehow he doesn't buy it. You know me, I am not a weak woman (I've actually never met a weak woman. I don't think it's evolutionarily possible, honestly). But truly, life is almost as good as life can get. I am continually amazed at how blessed my life is. But I am also not one to sit back and let things be almost anything.
My best life is chock-full of goodness, I admit that. My best life is not the easy-way-round. My best life is homegrown food, fabulous dishes made from scratch, clothes hung on the line washed in soap you could eat, house tidy, lovely and smelling of lavender and windows clean and sparkly, of disasters cleaned up quickly, gifts made with love by hand, gardens full of inspiration, air filled with birdsongs we can identify or fantastic music with a good groove, close nurtured-with-love relationships with family and neighbours, etc. etc. People keep telling me that if I'm tired, I need to give up something. Like what??? I keep saying NO WAY! Why should I have to start cutting out slices of my best life so that Mr. K can have not just the best bits of my husband but far more than his share of my husband? Why can't he have him 9 or 10 hours a day and let us have our share of him too!!! I keep imagining calling him up and having this very frank talk with him -- he's a reasonable man, I'm sure I could get him to see the light. But that's when I realize that he is a very reasonable man and he probably already does see the light and I realize that this is not about Mr. K or the homeowners or the staff or anyone but my husband, in the microcosm and about the pressures of our culture in the macro. He chooses to pour himself like this into every job he does. He somehow needs the approval and admiration of knowing he is working very hard, certainly not taking it easy and never ever slacking off. Cultural taboos, yes?
I remember my uncle having a very frank talk with Brent one day years ago, telling him that he was at the prime of his life and needed to "hit it hard" and sacrifice "everything" (meaning needs of family, spouse, self) in order to "get ahead" now so that he wouldn't find himself an old man still needing to work. He painted a picture of Brent building this empire in his youth, to be enjoyed in his latter years in the form of riding his motorcycle around the country, travelling anywhere his heart desired, buying anything his family/wife wanted, etc. I remember being repulsed and intensely angry by this conversation. I don't think of it often, but I do wonder if all this now is the fruit of those seeds planted years ago. THAT is what our culture preaches. You've really made it if you are "somebody" in the corporate world. You've succeeded if you have a large bank account and investments flung across the globe. Children? Family? Marriage? pshaw.
So. That's how I see it. That's what I'm up against. It is what it is. My husband is busy building his empire. The other men we know who are completely wrapped up in building their empires have wives who are either obsessed with their own careers or have made it their career to be very very fabulous in their physical space. Their children are heavily involved in extra-curricular-everything, are breathless when they tell us how many plays they're currently starring in, how many races they've recently won, etc. etc.
and then there's me.
Known to toss phrases around like "boredom is the key to imagination which is the key to brilliance." Me, with the children who run to pee on their favourite tree when they feel the urge, knowing that urine is high in nitrogen and is our version of fertilizer. Kids whose trophies come from their own gardens in the form of cherry tomatoes and perfect crowns of broccoli. Me, the only one who wonders aloud how crazy our world is when husbands are more concerned about their investment portfolio than the wellbeing of their own offspring. And the thing is, I KNOW that I'm different. I'm fully aware that I am far more difficult to accept than they are for me. I am filled with wonder when talking to people from the other side of the culture -- at how they find fulfillment, how they connect with their teens and all that.
The clash of two cultures is what it is, isn't it?
And so, I guess it all boils down to this: I'm searching for a way to completely embrace what is instead of what could be...


SRJ said...

If there is no struggle there is no progress.Frederick Douglas

SRJ said...

Sorry I should have put the whole quote - “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”

Love you!

cherry said...

on a cultural level, yes i agree things are unbalanced and respect is not given to the family unit, first. being different, you that is, is a blessing, genius at work. don't even put energy into seeing the comparison of your life to someone elses, truly, its a waste. the people that are worth having in your life are the ones that appreciate those differences, ie. kids peeing on the grass! love it! imagine them telling their friends when they are teens and they are all peeing in the grass and giving the nitrogen facts. wow! about the flow of living your best life, priority of flow. when stuff is hectic for our family, i prioritise what is really the most important. if the splats of food on the wall from blending baby food, dry!, it was worth the huggle toddler needed RIGHT THEN, while baby was screaming hungry, she still got the food, just some of it stayed on the wall! we will look back on these years with a smile and only remember the best bits. hopefully our kids will too. xx

sheila said...

You know, I think your kids will forget the crankypants days one day, when they're older and more philosophical (and compassionate) about life. My eldest (12) sometimes says "You sure yell a lot!" but when pressed to give dates, times, and places (so mature of me, I know), he's only remembering the one time I shrieked at him for spraying the contents of his water gun into the front door all over the chesterfield. So now my stock response is "I make mistakes, just like you do, and I'm not always even-keeled. But reminding me of them is neither kind nor constructive." Then I hand him $20 for a new Lego set. And we all laugh hysterically at the idea of me being even-keeled.

Just kidding. I only give him $10.

My point is: we need to forgive ourselves for some of the temper outlays. When they're older you can have some frank discussions about relationships and Men Who Work Too Much and Making Choices. And hope Brent realizes the toll it's taking.

Marce said...

Mary Sue -here I sit thousands of miles away from you, and my struggle is the same! It is so much better than it used to be -we had to hit bottom before we could fix things.
I know when Matt is gone overseas, the kids and I do just fine -we get into our groove, and I know there is no relief coming and they pitch in and help keep me sane -but the times when he is on his way home, and gets delayed that 2 hours, all hell breaks loose.
My challenge is also that ours is a 'family' company. I take that to mean family first. Not so much. My father-in-law left his family for weeks at a time to build this company, and we'd better keep things going. Matt feels that pressure from a boss who is also his father - double expectations. My father-in-law assumes that our goal must be material wealth -why wouldn't it be?? He is waiting for the mothership to come take me back and leave a daughter-in-law who knows Louis Vuitton(sp?) is worth the sacrifice.
Keep trying. Keep talking. I once wrote Matt a letter when I thought I couldn't handle anymore. If I heard one more word about work,one more excuse, one more broken promise, I was going to snap. He heard my words when he read them.
I don't think we understand their pressures because we are wired so differently. The line between nagging and protecting a life that we won't compromise on is fine.
I loved hearing your thoughts on this and I can't believe how many times I caught myself nodding saying "I know...I know...".
THank you for sharing this.