"You're not going to work?" he asked me.
"No, I think I'm going to just stay here with you," I replied. "I miss you...haven't seen you in like two days..."
A smile slowly crept across his face just as I'd expected, and I noticed a little pep in his step as he got the kids dressed. Most of the time, if we want to have some mommy-daddy alone time, one of us has to take off from work. This time it was my turn. What would we do? Probably nothing but lay around in each other's company. But with two small children and opposite work schedules, the thought of being able to sit diagonal from him on the couch, and touch him with my cold feet was equal to any one of Black Twitter's $200 dates.
One of the things that attracted me to him most was his work ethic. We were in college and he was an accounting major. He didn't have a "real job" where he collected a paycheck and W-2 at the end of the year. Nor a fancy accounting internship or even a weekend retail job. He filled his gas tank, paid his phone bill, car note, insurance and his off-campus rent with the money he earned from playing the congas and timbales in a go-go band back home. I don't know what anyone else would see when they analyzed that, but me? I saw security. A man that would hustle to the bone to keep himself fed and clothes on his back.
And well...I was right. When those accounting jobs weren't coming in like he expected, he made a decision to take a job that wasn't a 9-5--heck it wasn't even in his field-- but allowed him more control of his income and more income period. He says he did it for me. And being newly pregnant, he did it for "us."
The night that he told me he would be working from 10:30 pm - 6:30am, my brain couldn't process the information. Huh? Like overnight? So I have to stay here by myself?
It's been that way for the past two years or so. I'm used to it, and I think we've adjusted pretty well to where it works for us. I don't have to fight him for the TV and I get to sprawl out on a king-sized bed all by myself. With his off-days being in the middle of the week, it's nice that he's still available during the day and evening so we can at least feign normalcy for a couple hours. But I would be lying if I didn't say that just sometimes I just wish he had a regular job. I wish it on the weekends when we have to wrap up our family activities by five or six so he can have a little time to rest before work. Or when he falls asleep as soon as I put the kids to bed so he can get an hour or two of sleep before heading off to another shift.
They say if you don't want a broke man, you have to deal with a busy one. Certainly not in all cases, but every week looking forward to Sunday and Monday nights ain't no way to live. Those are the only nights we actually get to enjoy each other's company. The other nights we're rushing to get the kids to bed by 8:30 so we can at least get a solid hour of "how was your day?" type of conversation. Most of the time we have those types of conversations over the phone. 7 am when I'm on my way to work and he's on his way home. Or 4:30 when I get off and he's just waking up if he even goes to sleep. We rarely get a Saturday night to go out on a date, or even a "let's pop some popcorn and throw on Netflix since the kids are asleep.
[Tweet "If you don't want a broke man, you have to deal with a busy one."]
If you find yourself relating to this story, you may also find yourself wondering how we keep the spark. Sacrifice and thoughtfulness. To be quite honest, for him it never really feels like sacrifice. Taking off of work to just “be" is my favorite thing to do, but here are some other ways to keep the firing burning when there's only one person around at a time to stroke it.
The security people at my job all know my husband because that's how often he pops up, forgoing sleep to take me to lunch wherever I want. I blush every single time I get that “come downstairs" text.
Schedule an Activity
Something my parents do that I think is cute is workout together with a personal trainer on Tuesday evenings. Find something intimate that you can learn from, push each other in and discuss later. Take lessons, watch a TV series, or prepare a meal together.
Grand gestures aren't always necessary or even feasible when there are children in the picture. If I'm at the grocery store, I'll pick up a cookies and cream Hershey's bar while in in the check-out. Or he'll come home and toss me a bag of Sour Patch Kids. When you haven't seen each other all day, it's reassuring to know that your mate was thinking about you while doing even the most menial task like grocery shopping or getting gas.
In the grand scheme of things, effort is the most important factor. And he most definitely shows me that. So, of course it makes me feel really bratty to complain about not getting to see him. I know he prides himself on being a provider and he does a great job of that. But sometimes, I just want to stay up late and have "sleepovers" like we used to. I know eventually we'll get that back. So for now, when I walk into the bedroom to find him sleeping after I've put the kids to bed, I'll continue to just kiss him on the forehead and give him an A+ for effort.
Do you have a busy man? How do you handle it?
Chaunece Woods is the creator of the Real Life Actually blog. Here to remind you that it is not a requirement to lose yourself in a sea of dirty diapers and spaghetti sauce in your transition to Mrs. Mom, you can catch her there sharing her adventures in boo-loving, mommyhood, passion, and purpose and on Twitter @Necewrldpeace.