The daily goodbye

The daily goodbye

I never realized how difficult it would be to go back to work in an office. Now, I know I’m going to get comments that I’m spoiled and everyone else has to do it and why don’t I just suck it up. But bear with me for a minute.

For the past 15 years I have not had to go to an office every day, five days a week, eight hours a day. For four of those intervening years I was in school and for the other 11 I worked from home. (I did have a few part-time jobs in that time that did require going to an office, but that doesn’t really count.)

In addition, over the past three years Melanie and I have spent nearly every day together. Since she was a college professor and I worked from home, we could be together, Melanie grading papers and me writing and editing. After we were married, we were together even more, obviously, nearly 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

I could honestly say that we have never had an argument in all that time together. I’m not saying neither of us ever got snippy or peckish, but we’ve never yelled at one another. A big part of that is our personalities. We’re very laid back.

Once Isabella came along, that full-time presence grew to include here. Until I started work, I was there with Isabella every day, changing diapers, getting up in the night, feeding her breakfast, lunch, or dinner, right alongside Melanie.

But the day I started my new job, that all changed. Of course, I’m very happy to have my job and I enjoy it. There are challenges and rewards inherent in it and I find it stretches me in my abilities and experiences.

Yet, I can’t help but feel very keenly the amount of time I’m not with Melanie and Isabella. I leave in the morning while they’re still asleep and when I come home there’s dinner to be made and chores to catch up on and within a couple of hours Bella is in bed and Melanie is fading (being first-trimester means she’s tired all the time.)

Like I said, I know that this is how most people live their lives, but the problem is that I lived the other way for so long. I feel like the two-eyed man living in the land of the one-eyed people and I’ve just had one of my eyes removed. Yeah, I’m just like everyone else now, but I know what it was to have had both.

It’s going to take some adjustment, for all of us. Certainly, I now have the pleasure of coming home to my little girl running to greet me excitedly. Still, this is a sacrifice that many moms and dads make and I’m lucky enough that my wife recognizes it and appreciates it.

And perhaps someday I’ll realize my dream of becoming a high-tech gentleman farmer/blogger and never have to commute to a job again.

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  • For nine years my husband and I made our living making and selling woodworking and craft items.  We not only ran the business together, but we made the household decisions together because we were both together so much.  Those were the years of our daughter’s late childhood through her teens.  She was old enough to help out around the house and in the business. 

    I discovered what families on a farm in the days before the industrial revolution must have known, that the freedom of being your own boss and working together for the family’s welfare is not only very satisfying, but also an excellent way to teach life skills to children.

    But the day came when we had to close the business and we both had to get a job.  Mine was part-time, four hours a day.  His was 60 hours a week.  The change was very difficult to adjust to.  I sympathize, Dom.

  • Yes I would say you are spoiled.  Or just luckier than the rest.  I like the 2 eyed man comment. 

    Thankfully, my commute is only 1/2 each way, so I get home in time to spend time with the kiddies.  Even so, one of them just lamented that I had to be gone all day.

    God bless and good luck with the adjustment

  • I’m not going to say you’re being silly. I’ve lived the whole commuter thing from the othe side.

    When I was little I hardly ever saw my dad. He left before I woke up, he came home after I went to bed. We didn’t even go to church together on Sunday because Dad didn’t believe in God. I loved him to pieces, he just wasn’t a part of my daily life.

    When I was 14 two things happened: My dad converted to Catholicism, and he got a different job. We moved from Big City to Small Town, and now he almost always comes home for dinner and sometimes even comes home for lunch, and we have theological discussions while washing the dinner dishes. He took a pretty significant pay cut, and money is tight sometimes, but I would not wish him back into his old job.

    I guess you could say we went from being blind to having one eye. It does make a difference. Sorry to ramble on in your combox, I just wanted to say you shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to spend time with your daughter.

  • Dom,

    I really do sympathize with you.  I have worked at home for over seven years now, since before my wife and I were married.  I have two small kids at home (ages 3 and 1), and I can’t imagine being away from for most of the day as you have described. 

    Yet on the other hand, I have really been experiencing the negative side of working at home for quite a while now.  Specifically, I tend to have periodic bouts of depression from not having much human contact (outside my immediate family) and from not getting out of the house much.  Lately I have been longing for a job outside the home, but at the same time, I dread going through what you are going through now, and so I feel caught in the middle.

    I know that I’m probably more blessed than I realize, but I just wanted to let you know that I really do understand what you are going through.  Perhaps my ideal situation would be working outside the home two or three half-days per week, and working at home the rest of the time, but of course, that’s hard to find.  grin

  • We can relate. My husband and I went through the same thing a couple of years ago. It was a really difficult adjustment.

    Also, I think that part of the pain you’re feeling (and that we felt) is that it’s just unnatural to be away from your family as much as working people are today. When you look back at human history, it was common for both men and women’s daily work to take place close to where they lived. I bet that even in hunter/gatherer societies men weren’t gone as much as they are now when they commute to jobs (though I don’t know that for sure).

    Anyway, you guys are in our prayers.

  • Dom,

    You are very fortunate to have experienced what, in my opinion, the Church always intended family and work life to be, which is to say integrated.

    I say this because St. Joseph worked in his shop at the home with Jesus and Mary by his side.

    We have lost sight of the value of our children having the opportunity to see us working and applying our Catholic faith to our work life. We have lost sight of the value of apprenticing our children in their teen years. We have lost sight of the value of husbands, wives and children working together for the common good of the family.

    Thank God for your blessings. Some folks never get the chance to experience what you have known.

    In Christ,

  • Others have said it already: working outside the “home” is unnatural and a byproduct of the industrial revolution and the car.  Wasn’t that really the point behind all those 19th century social novels?  That the factories and mines were breaking up families?  Prior to that, whether you were a farmer or a craftsman or a shopkeeper, you worked more or less “from home,” or at least you could have your family with you.

    Now, even if you own your own business, you’re not supposed to have your kids with you unless you have all the proper daycare and insurance licenses taken care of.

  • I heard Dr.Carrigg attempted the farmer/scholar thing. The story was that every evening after a hard day of farming, he fell asleep before he could do anything scholarly.

    Wouldn’t it be great if HE had a blog?