Thursday, August 09, 2007

Being a Family IS Work

Somedays you aren't as aware of the work as others, but it's always work. This is neither good, nor bad, but a value-neutral fact.

I'm reminded of this alot this week for many reasons, including Dr.Bloom's insistence that "work is taking it out of him." I know this to be true. I know he is overworked. But so am I, and I'm not so sure he knows that, and I'm overworked at home.

I read a Miss Manners: a stay-at-home dad needed to find a polite way to tell his work-out-of-the-house spouse to stop calling and saying "You won't believe the day I'm having . . ." Even the tacked on "How are things there?" grates on the poor man, who just wants to play ball with his son, or do the dishes, or put the laundry away without hearing about the "important" things happening at his wife's workplace.

At first Miss Manners considers this a refreshing change, but she quickly rejects this: regardless of sex, the out-of-the-home partner should not assume that hometime is interruptable for minutiae.

But what if it isn't minutiae? Imagine that this husband not only stays at home, but also works from home (meager earnings to be sure but earnings nonetheless in an endeavor both thought worthwhile), but imagine also that the work-out-of-the-home spouse is a doctor. Switch the sexes, add one more kid, and you begin to see the growing problem at Chez Bloom.

Take a recent bad day. We're driving down the main street, arguing about whose work is more or less important at the moment, when we come upon a terrible bicycle accident. I stop yelling, pull to the rightmost lane, and dh calmly gets out while I circle the block for somewhere safer to stop. Then he runs across four lanes. As I find a place to stop, Miss I asks "Where Daddy go?" "There was an accident," I said, "and Daddy is a doctor, so he had to stop." "Okay, but why did we have to stop?" she asked earnestly. She's two and a half; it's not her problem -- or at least, she doesn't know that it IS yet.

My dad set a fantastic example by stopping for accidents -- I so expect to both see them and stop that our car is stocked for them (so is my bag, and indeed we have made use of the gloves and gauze I carry). I want my kids to be like my dad wanted me to be.

But the argument? Guess who automatically wins everytime. Guess who ends up feeling, when her partner is running late, like a two-and-a-half year old.


erin said...

Me too. though my spouse doesn't do life-or-death work, I still end up feeling like a 2 1/2 year old.

Third Mom said...

It's so doggoned hard. I'm the out-of-house worker in our family, DH is home and has been since P arrived. We've had the very same problem you describe in reverse - DH has always had a habit of calling at the wrong time, poor thing (because how could he know when I'm getting on the phone), so the result is that he seldom calls. Now that the kids are older he doesn't really need to much, but I miss communicating throughout the day.

I guess things are never perfect, *sigh*.

abebech said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement. I feel better.

I have a friend whose spouse is a waste containment engineer, so I counter to dh that if he thinks it's bad if HE leaves work, if THIS GUY leaves we're on the verge of ecological disaster. Who can top that?!