Tuesday, February 9, 2010

ow.

There are moments throughout my day when I miss my husband so much it aches a little bit.  As if some invisible organism seeped slowly into my core while I was sleeping and tied thousands of tiny knots.  And come midday, sometime after my morning fitness diversion has been reduced to sweaty socks in the hamper  but before the task of prepping for supper arises, those knots suddenly tighten and twist, leaving me with a nearly incontrollable urge to sniff his cologne - a poor substitute for the clean scent harbored in the crook of his neck, a place my head fits so snugly if I've forgone heels.

This knotty-tummy feeling is one I'd almost erased from my angsty, nineteen-year-old, torrid-long-distance relationship days... but there it is, that familiar muscle-memory, leaving me all twittery.  It is a comfort, though - realizing that those first love feelings can translate into forever love feelings.  Sometimes I find myself swearing up and down that Marriage is Above, Beyond, More.  Above that disquiet of young relationships.  Beyond drastic, youthful inclinations.  More than flittery-fluttery-butterfly-y twitches. But perhaps always being Above, Beyond, More all the time makes a relationship somehow... Less?  

Oh I don't know. 

Where was I?

Ah yes.  Sappy Love Stuff.  The problem is, of course, that at the same time I am ticking down the moments to the Hi-Honey-I'm-Home, I am subconsciously laying minefields, invisibly and intricately threaded together, like a yellowed bit of lace, or steps in a slow dance.  Unbeknownst to him, he becomes a traveler without a compass immediately after crossing the threshold.  And while that aching need for his presence lingers, it can easily be wafted away by the surprise appearance of an abandoned paper cup in the entryway, or a simple request to add salt to the grocery list.

You see, what was once our home is now also my office.  Our entryway is reception; our living room, my desktop; the kitchen, a conference room.  While my current job focuses on finding a job, I have additionally and involuntarily been thrust into the business of homemaking... a business that I both wholly resent and attack with zeal.  Hours can surely be filled with cleaning, straightening, organizing, sorting, folding... but "I took care of the house" begins to sound hollow in response to the ever-friendly query "So, what did you do today?" when repeated day after day.  The errant paper cup?  Irrationally becomes the equivalent to someone taking a shit on that report you spent five hours preparing.  And how in the world did I forget salt at the market today?  My daily responsibilities require the brain function of a chimpanzee, and I can't even remember to purchase the most basic of cooking ingredients?  AND THE PEAS!  We always have peas!  HOW COULD US NOT HAVING PEAS HAVE ESCAPED MY RADAR WHEN THE RISOTTO REQUIRES PEAS?

This Mad Hatter Inner Dialog is bad enough, but then it tends to manifest into Outward Husband Nagging.  Why must I pick up after you all the time?  Don't you see how clean and tidy the house is?  I cannot believe you didn't notice how I changed the decor on the mantle!  GET YOUR OWN DAMN SALT.

Humphf.

It occurred to me today that he too is caught in a situation not of his own choosing.  He didn't agree to be the temporary sole breadwinner.  He didn't elect to cut back on all those fun little extra expenditures.  And he certainly didn't campaign for a partner who lashes out over fucking table salt as a result of feeling caged by her stalemated career.

Perhaps I've been assuming that his life continued onward, business as usual, while mine is currently a smidge... halted.  But now I see a bit more clearly that my change was his as well... that we are invisibly and intricately threaded together, like that yellowed bit of lace, or the steps in a slow dance.  And I'll vow to greet him tonight a little less selfishly - just as he welcomed home my opportunity to pursue a career that satisfies and fulfills me.

Ow.  There it is again. 

30 comments:

  1. Very well said. I had a lot of the same feelings when I was laid off and looking for work. I can definitely relate to your feelings about having tidied up all day to have a coat thrown on a chair and a dirty coffee mug not find its way to the sink.

    Hang in there, you'll find something, and trust me when I say that when you do, you'll miss having the time to actually make a dinner for you both each night. I know I do.

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  2. Perfectly written, once again! :) I am on the other side of the spectrum, the sole breadwinner as of 2 weeks ago. It sucks. I feel horrible for the Mr b/c he simply can't stand to be at home without "working". He is doing an amazing job at housework though, which I really do love deep down! But he wants a job ASAP and I want him to find one ASAP.

    Basically unemployment sucks! I miss my morning coffees and being able to go to lunch whenever I pleased! Don't even get me started on shopping.... :(

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  3. I couldn't agree more...my husband was laid off from a law firm here in KC several months ago and we've been struggling with the same things...and to complicate matters, I just got my packing orders this week!

    I'm starting to believe that there is a conspiracy theory to lay off our entire generation.

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  4. sums up the current situation perfectly - it is nice to know when you're not the only one whose routine and sense of purpose has shifted from the cut-throat corporate/academic world to homemaking. Thanks for being a great voice!

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  5. Very well put! I think it's very relatable. Your career AND your marriage will both be so much stronger on the other side of this. Stay positive, you are doing great!

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  6. I understand this completely. When I was 32 weeks pregnant I got put on bedrest. I was on bed rest for 5 weeks and then home with our twins for another 6 weeks. The 6 weeks after the babies came was actually easier on our marriage than the five before.

    When I was home and not allowed to clean or organize or do anything but rest, I was sad and lonely all day waiting for my husband to come home. But hen I would end up aggravated because he didn't take care of things the way that I did when I was able.

    I had to really watch myself during that time. But it will pass and I am sure that Evs understands!

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  7. Beautiful dahling, in it's on Kate way!

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  8. Such a beautifully written post.

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  9. I'm so glad you wrote this today. I'm kind of voluntarily unemployed right now since it's the only way I could live in the same place as my new husband. I spend most my day frustrated that I'm not doing something productive with my life, and then the other half counting down the seconds until my husband gets home. It's really refreshing to know that there are other people in a similar boat.

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  10. Thank you for this. Being a lady of leisure has its perks but I find myself with those same thoughts. I don't feel productive sometimes, after "cleaning the kitchen" and "arranging my wide array of bathroom toiletries" and when did going to multiple grocery stores to find items that one or the other doesn't have become a daily activity? Anyway, very well said.

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  11. I understand that feeling so much, because Hubs is gone Monday morning through Thursday evening. Most of the time I am fine, working exercising, board meetings, etc. But Monday nights when I get home, I get angry everytime at disarray left over the weekend- little pieces of his presence that make me lonely and therefore MAD. And a little nutso.

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  12. Very well said Kate. The analogy about the way that a misplaced dish feels after you've cleaned rang ever so true for me. I think it's fantastic that you are able to look up in the middle of this life storm and see that your marriage with Evs is a work in progress and constant compromise. Humbling and something I know I should consider more often.

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  13. Oh my god do you do this too? I really thought I was the only one. I worked part-time for a year and a half, so I was the one "taking care of the house" (and consequently, now I still have this irrational feeling that I'm supposed to continue that despite my full-time job...and that just adds a whole new dimension to the equation). The poor dear, I missed him all day until I realized the *horrible* (insert sarcasm) thing he did to just undo my perfectly cared for house.

    But he still loves me. And after a year and a half of that, I bet that's a hard thing to do. :) I hope that you find a job as soon as you want one, but meanwhile try not to feel like you should be doing more...it's hard to keep the guilt away, but as a friend told me when I complained to her about all my down time, you are so allowed to enjoy the peace, enjoy the morning, noon and evening cup of tea, the time to read books you haven't had a chance to, and even those hours in front of the computer reading blogs. :)

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  14. What a great post! I have always heard that this situation can put a major strain on a marriage, but you are handling it with such stride. I think you and Evs are going to be stronger than ever when this is all said and done.

    PS: Your writing skills are superb!

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  15. Really wonderfully written. And I think it rings true for so many of us, in so many different ways. My Mr. was out of work for a few months, and I became spoiled by his presence (and his mad housekeeping skills). Now that he has rejoined the workforce, I miss him. Obviously it's a better scenario. We can't have it all, can we?

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  16. kate you are a brilliant writer! being unemployed is the worst, but at least you have the resources to decide what you really want in life right now!

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  17. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.............................................

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  18. This may be your best post ever in my opinion--or at least right up there at the top. Brilliantly written!! You're simply the best.

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  19. this was really a lovely post. you're doing great, Kate - and I think you and Evan are well aware of that.

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  20. Oh, you are making me feel bad for the nights where I go, 'YAY! HUSBAND HAS BASKETBALL PRACTICE AND THAT MEANS I CAN SIT IN MY JAMMIES AND EAT ICE CREAM (and share a bit with Kitty and Petunia) AND WATCH *WHATEVER* I WANT ON TV!"

    :\

    All joking aside, stay strong darling. It's a tough thing, what you're going through. I went through it myself when I first fell sick and was diagnosed (and given the written order from my doctor to "TAKE IT EASY", whatever the hell that means). I'm not a breadwinner, but I am very much a work-a-holic, always used to being busy and getting stuff done. And not being able to do that (or, rather, not being able to live up to my own standards of doing that) was beyond maddening. It still is at times, as I find myself staring at a mirror in my bathroom that I've weakily wiped at for 10 minutes and there's still fucking dust on it and NO ONE GETS WHY THE DUST PISSES ME OFF SO MUCH. It isn't the dust that is really pissing me off. No one really seems to get that.

    So. Thank you for writing this. Stay strong, stay strong, stay strong.

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  21. ...subconsciously laying minefields... Perfectly said. This whole post is all too true - thanks for writing.

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  22. I really think you should copy this post and send it to Skirt! Magazine to be published for one of their personal essays. So beautifully written.

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  23. It's good to know that I'm not the only one laying the minefields. I get so frustrated some days, but I have to just remind myself that it doesn't really matter if he leaves his socks in the living room. You wrote down my thoughts but much more eloquently than I ever could. Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Aww. I feel your angst. Sometime I miss mine, but then when he arrives he does something little to drive me insane!!!! Have the stress of job searching certainly adds to the emotions though!

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  25. very well said. i'm sure you're both having quite the time adjusting to this recent upheaval in your lives, but at least you can see that you are still both a work in progress. as we all are.. i think we could all use a little of this introspection into our marriages..

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  26. good god almighty, you are such an amazing writer...i have no idea what your situation feels like personally, with the marriage, but i do understand the unemployment. i hope you find some other fun things to keep you occupied!

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  27. Oh you... these feelings are so natural, I think. I've wrestled with them myself: moving to Dallas just for T and resenting him for how isolated it made me feel for so long, even though it was my choice to go there... even now, working from home and going stir-crazy while he gets to explore our new city and meet new people and I hang out with the cats all day, although I haven't applied for new jobs. I try to remember that partnerships are what they are because no one person can be everything all the time. We exist in a constant ebb and flow, and choose our partners because whether we know it at the time or not, they're the best person possible to wax during our wane. Vice versa, too. Don't forget that vice versa.

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  28. I'm starting to believe that there is a conspiracy theory to lay off our entire generation.

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  29. I absolutely love this post. Every piece of it.

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happy little comments!