Monday, March 23, 2015

Fathers and Sons Revisited

     It's been 6 years since I wrote my original fathers and sons blog. Not a lot has changed since then. Tom is still a workaholic--typically working a 12-13 hour day, but it's not completely unusual for him to work til 9pm or 12am or, as was the case on Friday, til 3:30am. I don't like it. I can't think of anyone who would. And if it was anyone but Tom, I'd wonder if he was having an affair. But I know he's not. He has a strong work ethic and likes the work he does and he likes the whole process of being challenged and figuring out a solution. He works until he gets one. Excellent for him. Not so excellent for his family.
     Sam is 8 now, and no longer asks when Dad is coming home. No one knows. It's pointless to ask. It used to be Tom would call and give me a head's up--telling me that he'd be leaving in 15 minutes (so I could start dinner and time it to his arrival)--but that 15 minutes often stretched to an hour or two, as Tom realized if he just made one little tweak that stopping place he'd come to would turn into a solution... Now he just calls when's he's leaving. I never know when that call will be. I don't try to anticipate it anymore. Neither do the boys. When he is late, the boys don't even notice anymore. Our conversations go like this now:
     Me: It's time for bed.
     Them: Dad's not home yet.
     Me: No. He's at work.
     Them: Oh.
     I struggle with my feelings on the matter. I try to be a supportive wife. I get that Tom has an important role to play in his department, and his success, and therefore our comfort and financial security are inextricably intertwined with his working the way, and the hours, that he does. I get it. But it doesn't stop me from wanting to slam my fist through a brick wall. When I married him, I didn't know I was signing up for this. I didn't realize I was signing my boys up for this either.
     I read my blog from 2009 and feel nothing but sadness, knowing that nothing has changed. The boys and I hurt and miss him. Tom stays late at work anyway.
     It has taken its toll. We've been married 13 years. As a starry-eyed newlywed, I naively believed he'd come rushing home to me every night, and we'd cook and laugh together after work, just as we had when we'd been dating. As his work days grew in length, I longed for him to be home, but told myself this was temporary. When this project, or the next project, or maybe the big one in the spring was finished, it would be back to normal. But normal became a 12 hour work day.
     Then when we had the boys, I thought surely now he'd come home early. If I wasn't enough reason for him to come home, surely he'd want to see them. But no. The hours didn't change.
     Three months after John was born, after a visit to the ER with Sam, I caught Whooping Cough that turned into Whooping Cough and Pneumonia. I was supposed to be taking care of my two children under 2, but I was coughing until I simultaneously vomited and lost control of my bladder. I was mostly delirious with fever. Shivering and sweating through my clothes. Unable to get out of bed. I begged Tom to please stay home and take care of the boys. I was contagious. All my friends had young kids too. It wasn't safe for them to come to the house. My grandmother was going through chemo. My aunt was taking care of her. There was literally no one else and I was sick. Plus someone had to take the boys to the pediatrician to get extra TDaP vaccines and pre-emptive antibiotic prescriptions and I had NO business anywhere near a pediatrician's office at that point.
     But Tom had a big project going on that week and it was too important to miss.
     Every day, Tom went to work and worked his 12 hour day. For a week and a half, until my mother was able to fly in from Boise to help me, I would put the Wiggles DVD on the TV on repeat, drag myself downstairs for a box of cereal and a sippy cup or two of juice, leave it with Sam on the floor where he could get it, lock our bedroom door so he couldn't wander, put John in the bed beside me, and hope that one of us wouldn't die of neglect before Tom made it home for lunch or I got well, whichever happened first.
      I almost divorced Tom over it. Seven years later, it's the festering boil beneath the happy exterior of our relationship.
     Knowing how righteously pissed I was about it, when we still lived in Greenville, he'd take long lunches and come with me to pick up Sam from preschool so they could eat lunch together. It was something, yes. But it was short-lived. We moved to NY and the lunches stopped.
     Tom and I were fighting again this week about his work hours, and mid-argument, I had an epiphany. I said something to the effect of  You just don't get it. Sam is almost 9. The last 9 years have flown by. We get 9 more with him. That's it. Then he's gone. I hope it resonated with Tom. It certainly resonates with me. I mean, I'm not kidding myself. We don't really have 9 years. He'll think we're the lamest company ever in about 3. Then we'll limp along, being horribly uncool until he leaves for college. We can keep going as we have been, or make a better effort to be present now. Both of us.
     We're getting passports for the boys, and we're going on an adventure this summer. We just went to Disney World in December, so we're waiting to book something until we find a good last minute deal. We do travel a lot, and it gets expensive, but in my defense, if Tom is within a 50 mile radius of his office, he will go into work. I have to force him to stop. Being hours away is helpful with that. Being on a cruise ship with $15/min internet is even better.
     I don't know how this story ends. Perhaps things will get better as Tom realizes that the hour glass is running out. Perhaps he will also come to realize that some things are more important than a perfectly converged model. Time will tell.
     I just hope he doesn't come home too late.

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