Monday, June 12, 2017

Stay at Home Starchitect

All Spring my husband researched options. He had a great job, and they loved him so much they gave him leave without pay to get extra vacation time with  me and the kids (standard for architects is 2-3 weeks and I get much more than that), but he was tired of working on multimillion dollar housing projects in other cities - jobs that take months to complete. After exploring other job offers, he met with my financial advisor and decided to take a plunge from the corporate world and form an LLC. He would work from home and start his own business. He gave notice at his job a couple of months ago.

The first week he was home it was as if the boil of logistics that was our life, a life I knew no variation of in this marriage or my last, was lanced. He has always pitched in as much as he could, but this was different. Someone to be there to get packages. Let the bug guy in the house. Get one of our kids to the impossible 2:00 in the afternoon orthodontist appointment. Grab the cake for the birthday party. Get the honey we forgot at the grocery store last weekend that left my morning eggs unbalanced and naked. As end of school transitioned to summer, it became even more rewarding. My kids at 14 and 12 are old enough to be alone now, but having an adult at the house to check in with before they walked to the local pool to meet their friends and receive them when they return is a huge bonus. Someone to drive them to a sleepover earlier than 5:00. Someone to eat lunch with them. And we agreed, most importantly, the bonding of their relationship, stepdad to kids, as the kids are reaching an unprecedented age of independence.

He has already turned our guest bedroom into a sleek home office and is starting to craft a business card and do some research. The many contacts he made in the past have already landed him side gigs. And he is happier - getting a long bike ride in every other day. Not having the pressure of 8:30-5:30. That happiness makes our house happier - not that we weren't before, but it's better in a way I could not have imagined. So much so that I suggested he take some time off. Take it slow. We are traveling much in the month of June, so maybe wait to gain traction until July. He is more than amenable.

I don't want him to become the carpooler come Fall - we both want his business to succeed. So I'll put boundaries around his time - maintain an aftercare driver to get the kids from school and to all their activities. But this level of support is nothing short of mind blowing. So I was surprised one night last week when jealousy reared its ugly head. I didn't share my feelings with him at the time, but it was 12-15 hours of why do you get to do this and I don't circling my angry brain and it came off as crankiness and being short one evening. I was jealous he had lunch with the kids. I was jealous of his time during the day to exercise.

Now, to be fair, last week was one of the hardest weeks I've had in a while - call duties, high caseloads every day, terrible work drama, some family drama, and autopsy drama of all things. So I was grinding my teeth getting work done and working very hard to center myself and approach every issue with as much grace and calmness as I could muster. And I think I succeeded, and am happy I sold away my call weekend so I could get in some much needed chill time. But I knew I needed to explore this jealousy thing, so I did one morning at the scope.

He is very different than me. He tends to work better without boundaries around his time. He can adhere to our family schedule, and plug in to work at night when the kids are not with us. Not me. In the past, when I had time off between my first marriage and med school, I quickly lost myself to entropy. I watched Lifetime all day long. I quit exercising. One or two hours on the couch turned into one or two months. So much so that my then husband worried. "I think you always need a job. Please tell me you will always have a job or be in school." To be fair, I didn't have kids back then, and I was in my twenties, but I think he was right about my personality. I need to be responsible to someone or something in order to feel personal reward. Schedules anchor me. My cases, the patients behind them, the frozens, bronch lab, interventional radiology, it's a fuel that keeps me going and performing. Last week was too much, but most weeks aren't filled with all of that. I would not want to be a stay at home pathologist, not only because I don't think that's possible yet but I also need space away from my house to be productive at what I do. The hospital is my sacred space.

So I breathed and apologized the next night for my crankiness and told him about where it came from. He agreed to make space in the evenings for me to work out like we used to together on nights without kids instead of wanting to eat as soon as I get home. And he brought the kids to work one day to eat lunch with me - the kids hadn't done that in a long time and I know we will do it again this summer we all had a blast.

I remember when I was going through my divorce or maybe a new single mom KC won a well deserved prestigious award for starting this blog. In an acceptance speech she was tasked with advice to being a successful mother in medicine. Her first piece of advice was to marry well. I'm proof that if you don't get it right the first time, for whatever reason, it's possible to get it right the second time.


10 comments:

  1. Please share how this eggs and honey breakfast works? It sounds delicious, but I've never tried such a combination before.

    I hear you on the jealousy. I am so so so jealous of colleagues who have nearby helpful family to help take care of those 2pm orthodontist appointments (which are most certainly in our future). Maybe someday when I'm done with training my husband will finally be willing to scale back and we will have less stress. Congrats on finding a great partner!

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  2. Buttered toasted English muffin topped with scrambled eggs, salt, red pepper flakes, and drizzled with honey. Sweet and spicy. When I add sausage on the weekend occasionally it gets honey too. I'm convinced local honey every morning keeps Spring allergies away. Thanks Rock Star:)

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  3. This is a great piece. I really relate to the need for boundaries in my schedule and having work as an anchor. I'm a better/happier person/mom/wife because of it. I'm so happy for you that you have a grear hubby and I'm sure you'll find a good balance.

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    1. Thanks Emily - it takes consistent effort because it's ever-changing.

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  4. Sounds like me and my husband. During down time I veg out on Facebook especially if I am tired. My husband works diligently. I need to get my life together.

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    1. LOL luckily we have the confines of our jobs to keep us in line!

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  5. Gizabeth, thanks for this! It gives me hope. As you know, I'm in the stage of "not getting it right the first time" -- certainly not even contemplating anything even remotely close to a second time -- but it's nice to hear that happy endings exist. So happy that you've found one. One of my colleagues said to me the other day "the most important decision of your life is who you marry." Wise words.

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    1. And remember Frieda most people don't get it right the first time so we need to try not to beat ourselves up. I was 23 for crying out loud.

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  6. Congratulations on your new family configuration! Some friends of mine recently had a similar transition -- unfortunately it was not by choice as one partner lost his job -- but they describe it as life changing. I can identify with the whole "who is getting the good end of this deal" thing. It's one of the features of parenthood, I think. When you are responsible for your kid for long stretches, you long for adult conversations and the space to pursue your own interests, but then when you are away from your kid, you are jealous of whoever gets to hang out with them. Good that you were honest with your spouse about it. I'm sure he will also have his moments! Enjoy the summer!

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