I started a post the other day about the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom with a spouse who works from home. I had a few ideas floating around in my head, which turned into a monster post that would turn even the most loyal reader off. I wanted it to be a humorous look at some of the stuff that comes up daily with Mike and I sharing virtually every waking hour together, and instead it was coming up very long and very serious. Hmmm . . . perhaps I have some unresolved issues about this whole work/life arrangement we've found ourselves in?
Oh I most definitely do. Like a couple of posts worth.
I'm prefacing this post with all of the above as a warning. As in, you might not care to hear me whine about why having a husband at home full time isn't the most glorious thing ever. I won't be the least bit offended. I'm well aware that there are worse fates out there to be had, but this is my fate for now and I'd like to believe there is someone else out there who can possibly relate. If you can't, and you have no patience for me, feel free to read something more fun and lighthearted. Dooce always works for me. I'll be kind in the future and put some kind of disclaimer at the beginning of a post. Maybe something like: Warning: The post you are about to read is related to living with a full-time poker player. You may experience whining, irritability, euphoria, bliss, cluelessness, or any combination of the above.
So here's my biggest complaint: I am rarely, if ever, alone.
For some people, this is a fabulous thing. Say, for example, if you were Mike. He craves company. This is a near-perfect situation for him, it seems. He primarily plays up in the office. The kids and I try to stay out of the office while he's playing for fear of barging in at the wrong time and Oops! There goes $400! Sorry sweetie! During the day he'll play for a bit, and when he's ready for a break, he moseys over to wherever I am and strikes up a conversation, seeing if I want to do anything, checking on the kids, just generally hanging out. He'll chatter, maybe turn in the TV or fire up the wii if I'm not game for being chummy.
I never realized, though, how much I crave my solitude. Even if we're in separate parts of the house, I feel his presence. You know that episode of Sex and the City where the girls shared their "Secret Single Habits?" You know, the things you do when no one else is around. Well, I guess I had my "Secret Stay-At-Home Habits." Nothing crazy, like smoking crack or vacuuming naked, but just stuff that I prefer to keep to myself. Like dipping Hershey bar into peanut butter and calling it lunch. Looking at catalogs when I should be folding laundry. Enticing Eli to watch a show so I can spend 30 minutes on the Internet. Things that just aren't quite as fun (or guiltless) when you have an audience.
I also tend to get absorbed in my thoughts. I crave silence – I rarely have music or the television on when I'm at home. Silence + young children don't mutually coexist for the most part, so I've learned to feed that need for peace and solitude during the early morning hours and during nap time. So I'll be sitting somewhere, lost in my thoughts or trying to write, and Mike will pop up out of nowhere, eager for company. I wish you could get a mental image of me – you can see the nervous tic start to form, the veins begin to bulge.
And so we try to figure it out. He tries to remember that I am new to this. He's learning to read my signals, to tiptoe when necessary, and to run some useless errands so I can wallow in aloneness. I'm learning to relish the solitude when it does come, to sacrifice some sleep in the morning for some extra time with my coffee and thoughts, and to keep the tic from turning into Tourettes.
If you and your spouse share a significant amount of time together during the work week, how do you make it work so as to be respectful and not drive the other person crazy? We'd love to know.