I watched the wedding episode of The Office last night. You know that one where Pam and Jim get married?
Whenever I watch it, I can’t help but be taken back to my own wedding, and the irony that the person I needed the very most as I prepared that day wasn’t allowed to see me.
I think I really needed that episode last night. I needed a reminder of that love — of that feeling of wanting to run, not walk (and certainly not do that weird half-walk-half-pause thing) down the aisle.
Because sometimes, it’s really hard to remember those feelings; even if the person you once wanted to crash into like a tulle-y, bead-encrusted bowling ball is asleep right next to you.
I don’t want you to worry. We’re not in trouble. But sometimes, the great storm of life contributes to a feeling of apartness.
And sometimes, I think this life we have chosen, including homeschooling, can set us up for a little trouble.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a day in our life over at Simple Homeschool. Reading it back, I find it interesting that my husband is barely mentioned, and when he is, it’s in the most basic way. He showers. He cleans up dinner. He folds laundry.
Nowhere in there did I write about how he’ll listen to me, for hours on end, talk about my worries. Nowhere in there does it say how when I wanted to try a new math curriculum, he found a way to come up with an extra $100. Nowhere does it talk about how sometimes, when I’m really losing it, he holds me and tells me that I’m a really good Mom.
And I think I know why. I think it’s because that’s not most days.
Because most days, we just keep going.
Most days, he walks in the door after hours of work, and I am at the stove being spit at by dinner. I barely pause to acknowledge him.
The kids run in, excited he’s home, but often, they’ve been waiting to ask him a question all day. I can sense he’s feeling bombarded and wonder how to play it — do I honor my patient kids, who are happy to see their dad, or my stressed-out husband, who had 15 minutes to decompress on the way home — not close to enough to process a 9-hour day.
As we eat, we struggle with what to share. My husband, partly due to his job, and partly due to his time spent “out” in the world, knows a lot more about pop culture than the rest of us. He’s seen all of The Youtube.
(The rest of us have seen Kid History and anything with a cat in it.)
To the kids and me, whatever happened today is pretty much old news. They didn’t spend 7 hours away from home. There aren’t spelling test results to report, because our informal spelling bee that day was held in my bedroom, while I picked up laundry, my daughter following behind with a handful of strays, “Ask me another one, Mama! This is fuuuuun!”
“Um, book-case? It’s a compound word, remember?”
Except some days, when the kitchen is destroyed, and there’s stuff to pack for lunch at our co-op tomorrow and feelings to unpack from a shared rough day (shared in the sense that we both had one, not that we were together …)
Sure, we’ll say. But the spirit isn’t there, and the game crumbles, and I wish for the 100,000th time that we had more time together — that my husband could see what I see each day with these kids. That he could walk along the creek with us. That he could stop for ice cream, not as part of a plan, but because suddenly ice cream just sounded very good.
Homeschooling is a gift to me, and I often forget to be thankful. I often forget that if my husband didn’t support us in this endeavor, that it would be incredibly difficult.
He never doubts that we’re doing the right thing. He believes in all of us, his belief only strengthened by the fact that he doesn’t see the days when it all falls apart.
But that comes at a price. The price isn’t just the income we could have if I worked full-time — the price is that he misses out. On a lot.
(Again, the irony. We’ve chosen this life because we want to be together, and in order to make it happen right now, we have to spend time apart.)
And so last night, as I lay there remember my wedding, remembering that all I wanted that day was my best friend, and how much better I felt the minute I spotted him, I came to the conclusion that this situation feels a little broken.
(Again, we’re not broken.)
But the great thing about broken is that is can be fixed. I’m not sure how to fix it yet, but I think it begins with looking at the time we have together, and making the very most of it.
(And remembering to be grateful. Pretty much everything actually begins with being grateful, right?)
I wrote above that in some ways, I think that this homeschooling life can set us up for trouble. (Maybe not everyone, but I don’t think just us — right?)
But we don’t have to give in, in the same way that marriage can be hard sometimes, but we don’t have to give up.
In fact, the best marriages aren’t the ones that never run into bumps, they’re the ones where you ride out the bumps together.
So I don’t have a plan yet, but I want to make one.
And right now that feels like a good first step.