Until this weekend, that was about all I knew about what my husband did all day.
Just like I can work 12 hour "mom" days without complaining, I can do it 5 days a week on my own -- no help with bedtime routine, laundry, nightmares. When my husband has to work on the weekends, though, it gets ugly.
I was so grumpy and complaining on Saturday that I really am ashamed of myself. We were entertaining on Sunday and Monday (birthday week continues) and I count on weekend errand time to get stuff done and have a bit of a mental break. I also count on this time to reconnect with him, and to enjoy watching him spend time with the children. His working all weekend was not in my plans. By Sunday morning I was so fried that I made one of the worst parenting decisions I have ever made (imagine the opposite of my triumph last week).
Then, I went to Mass. I fumed for a while, and then begged for help. Well, we get what we need, not always what we want. I slapped a smile on my face while he missed most of the family birthday party because he was working. At 10 pm, when I collapsed into bed, he was sitting at the computer. Sometime around 4 am he came to bed himself.
He offered to move to another room, but I think we both needed the company more than I needed sleep, so he worked at the desk in the bedroom. While I slept on and off, I heard typing faster than I knew was possible. Sometimes I looked up and his head was in his hands as he thought, hard. He created spreadsheets and did all sorts of funky math. He called his boss and talked him through the math. I was half asleep and did not understand anything that was going on, but at one point I heard the boss say "Yes! Good!" Later, another boss called and apologized for interrupting him because he was so busy. Later, all of the spreadsheets which he had been up all night creating got cut from the document. His blackberry buzzed with "high priority" messages.
He did not yell, he did not cry, he did not throw his pencil across the room. He did not fall asleep or complain.
At the end of it all, he slept for 3 hours and then got up, showered and shaved to do it all again.
So, now I know. It is not like this everyday, but now, when he doesn't return my phone call for six hours, I'll understand. When he comes home at the end of a long day and collapses, I won't think "you've been sitting at a desk all day while I have been here working."
He is at a place in his career where this will be worse before it gets better. We had a reprieve because of the economic downturn, and while that was a relief for our family it meant that some others lost their jobs. It is hard to convince oneself to be thankful for all these extra hours, but truly, if he doesn't work we will not eat.
I am so grateful for this glimpse at what my husband does all day. I pray that it helps me understand and support him better. I pray that I can learn to stop complaining and keeping score.
Yesterday, when he mentioned that all of his dress socks have holes in them, I rearranged my day and took six kids to the men's department of Lord and Taylors to buy socks. I thought about how blessed I am to be married to a man who is so selfless, and so dependable, that he wore out his work socks. He gets up and does what he has to do every single day of the week, and sometimes on the weekends.
Buying new socks was a practical help, which is the kind of gift that means the most to him, and a sign to me, and to the children, that we appreciate his hard work and we will help where we can because we are all in this together. I hope I get to launder these new socks for five years and I hope he works until they are worn through at the heels. I hope that while it is all happening we can remember to be kind, patient and mostly grateful.