Sunday, December 9, 2012

Because He Understands

I've been tossing around the idea for this post for a couple of weeks now.  There were really only two things stopping me from writing it. 1. Time and 2. Criticism.  The time part is easy to explain: I'm just constantly busy with design work, housework, cooking, working out, running errands & all those other things busy moms are always doing.  Any "free" time I have these days is almost always spent in my comfies, on the couch with my husband, watching a movie (completely disconnected from my desktop, laptop or phone).  Today I've decided to make the time, because it matters to me.

The other thing stopping me was criticism.  Because I'm about to sing the praises of my husband, I thought of a blog post I read some time back that actually condemned wives for doing that.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There are people out there who believe women (and men) with great marriages should keep that to themselves and not upset those among us with rotten marriages by saying anything good, about ours.  On the one hand (a very small hand) I can understand the reasoning behind that.  No one with any amount of compassion wants to purposely upset someone.  On the other hand, our culture has become so backwards in it's attempt to be politically correct, good has seemingly become bad, and bad has seemingly become acceptable and encouraged. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking so if there's anyone reading who does, feel free to write me off as a lost cause because I have a great husband and I want to tell about him.

First, please note that I did not say perfect.  Kevin is far from perfect and I am utterly thankful from the bottom of my heart.  If he were, or if he were a perfectionist personality, our marriage would have been doomed from before it began. I am someone with a boat load of flaws and faults and quirks and petty annoyances.  If he were perfect, he'd never be able to deal with me.   I did say he's great though, and now I want to tell why.  There is a "headlining" aspect of our marriage & family that it seems like no one on the planet understands, except for him. (I know there are others out there that do understand it, it just often seems like no one does).

Midnight Shift is who we are, like it or not. Like many families, I have a husband who works midnight shift.  Not only does he work this shift, but he works a rotating (2 weeks nights, 2 weeks nights), continental, 12 hour midnight shift.  In case you don't know what that means, it looks something like this, from his 2nd week into midnights: Fri., Sat., Sun (on - midnights 7pm-7am), Mon., Tues (off), Wed., Thurs (on midnights), Fri., Sat., Sun (off), Mon., Tues (on - days 7am-7-pm) and so it goes. To further complicate it and confuse anyone reading, because we live roughly 45 minutes from his workplace he actually leaves at 5:30 (either am or pm) and usually doesn't get home until after 8 am or pm and usually heads to bed within an hour or two after arriving home.  So all that to say, he's gone from home a lot on his work days.  Especially when he's on midnight shift, his days off are spent preferrably sitting in his comfy pants, doing a whole lot of nothing, trying to recover from such a grueling, demanding schedule.  When he's on days it's a little easier and those are the days we'll often go to lunch, or make a Costco run, or something enjoyable together.  Now while I don't work midnights myself, I'm actually on this same shift myself, as well as our family.  When he's on days we eat dinner without him and when he's on nights we eat dinner by 4:30 so he can eat with us before he leaves for work.  When he's on days I get up at 5am so we can spend a few minutes together in the morning and pray together before he leaves for work, and when he's on nights, I don't sleep.  Okay, I technically do sleep, but I don't sleep well, at all.  Of course I still get up early with the kids for school but there are many many days where by 9am I feel like I've been hit by a fleet of buses and I have to lay down before I croak.  There is just something about him being gone that doesn't allow me to sleep soundly at all.  Almost without fail, there is one night during his two weeks of midnights that my body finally crashes hard and I end up sleeping like a log.  It's usually one of his last nights of the shift and I look forward to it more than anything.  Not so unusual, it takes him about two weeks to finally adjust to the shift as well and just about the time it's time for him to start turning around for two weeks of days, he's sleeping a little better during the day and finds it extremely difficult to sleep at night.  This, is our life.  This has been our life for the last few years and we deal with it the best we can but it's not an easy trick.

Because of this kind of work/family schedule we can't do a lot of things the same way other families do.  Oh I've heard stories about women with a houseful of kids who homeschool them all and who's hubby keeps a midnight shift like Kev, and they still manage to mind the kids, the house, make quilts, be on every church committee and do it all while holding a baby & correcting math homework.  No, I am not being sarcastic or poking fun, I am serious.  Frankly, those women deserve a day spa trip and an award.  I know it's possible to do it because I used to.  Key phrase there: used to.  It finally hit me about a year and a half ago that I just can't do it all anymore.  I can't even do most of it anymore, it's just too exhausting. It's not so tough when you're 35 but when you're nearly 50 it's a different story.  People used to tell me ALL THE TIME "oh goodness you look so tired".  I always wanted to look at them like Spock from Star Trek, with one eyebrow raised (I can't raise one eyebrow or I might have done it) and simply reply "gee... ya think?!"  But I never did.  I'd always just smile and say something like "yeah".  I'm sure they didn't mean anything malicious by it but it sure doesn't make a dead-tired mom feel any better knowing she looks exactly like she feels.

Our family cannot do mid-week evening stuff, for the most part.  I can't see to drive at night and if Kev's on days he doesn't get home in time and if he's on nights, he's not here.  We can't do birthdays on actual birthdays (or anniversaries or any other special family things), we have to wait until his next weekend off and hope that works for everyone and no one gets sick or anything.  We can't attend church on a regular basis and haven't for a long time.  I wont even drive to the store alone if I haven't slept well, let alone put all the kids in the van and drive the 30 minutes to church.  I tried that once and it scared the life out of me how easy it would have been to fall asleep while driving.  This is just the way it is, and the way it will be until our circumstances change.  I'm not complaining about it, I'm just stating how it is.

The thing is, I don't have to explain any of this to Kev.  He understands it all because it's his life too.  He never tells me I look tired, he just says "baby I love you".  He never asks why I didn't do this, or that, he already knows.  He knows it's because there just wasn't enough time, or I was tired, or something else came up and I had to juggle tasks around.  He's the only one I can talk to about certain things because he gets it.  He doesn't expect me to be super-mom or super-wife and any effort I do make at either (and I still try) he appreciates and makes sure I know it.

But it's not just midnight-shift related stuff.  He understands my faults, my flaws, my insecurities, my hopes, my goals, my passions.  He supports me and encourages me and not a day goes by that he doesn't ask me about something that's important to me.  And every single day, without fail, he thanks me for dinner.  That might sound trivial but I know of women who's husbands never say thank you and trust me, the lack of that simple little two word phrase is very noticeable.

When I think about how blessed I am to have a husband like this, it makes me want to cry.  I know it's not common anymore.  I know it's not something that most women have and can be proud of.  I don't know why  God blessed me with Kevin, but He did and I cannot express enough how thankful I am for that, and for his understanding of me.