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We experienced a close call here the other day.
MathMan, who is working multiple jobs - teacher, department chair, and coach to girls' softball, the boys' JV basketball team and baseball (okay maybe that's 5 jobs) - is clocking long days that often run from 6:30 a.m. with the start of his long commute until he returns home at 9pm from some coaching job. When he gets home, he's not done. He still has work emails to answer and send, lesson planning, papers to grade and whatever other random stuff comes up. And two kids who sometimes need help in math.
The man is on overload.
He was at the end of his patience about some work related thing when he came into the bathroom and said, "I am doing everything I can and it's never enough."
What triggered his exasperation may have been work-related, but the impact of the words hit me square in the forehead I was exfoliating when he stormed into the bedroom to search for his calculus book appendage.
Old instincts kicked in. We've lived this life before. Early in our marriage, MathMan managed a Radio Shack and worked about eighty hours a week. I worked regular hours and took care of the apartment. I hated that dynamic so much that I once sat down and made a list of reasons why he should find another job.
Now I'm not even working regular hours. Am I not pulling my weight? I'm looking for a job and writing a novel, but that doesn't look like work. Writing is what I love to do. Keeping house doesn't count for much because so much of it is invisible. I'm alone much of the time so no one can see what I do.
If a woman cleans a toilet and no one is there to see her do it, did it really happen?
I blinked at MathMan as I tried to think of a response. The old fight or flight response poked its head up and sniffed around.
"What do you mean by that?" I'd decided to ask for a clarification, for him to flesh out that thought, to tell me if I should be doing more.
Something in my face must have indicated that the old instinct was alert now. He picked up his book and explained that his job frustrations were mounting and he was struggling to juggle all his roles. He was clear - this wasn't a home issue.
The fight or flight instinct settle back into place and quieted. I tried to be supportive, mostly by just listening. He went back to his desk to finish one last work assignment before coming to bed. While I finished getting ready for bed, I silently congratulated us for getting better at this. In the old days, this would have escalated into ugly words before it become a tense, angry silence punctuated by only the most necessary of polite words through gritted teeth.
I also thought about what else I could be doing to ease his burden and to show how much I do appreciate all that he does. My thoughts ranged from taking over the yard work to getting this novel published. A wide range, I know, but I have been so lucky to have him support and encourage me every step of the way. Even when I know he must be thinking it would be nice for me to have a regular, paying job again.
I pulled out my notebook and jotted down a few ideas. I'd talk to him about it later.
The next morning, I asked him how he was feeling.
"Much better. Venting helped."
"I'm glad to hear it."
"Yeah, I needed that. Thanks."
I smiled at him and swung my legs over the side of the bed.
He touched me on the back and laughed. "The fact that you've taken to sleeping topless doesn't hurt either."
|Gratuitous pic of my honey.|