Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bursting My Bubble

I've been realizing something over the past few years. It is something that I am still trying to believe is my reality. It is this: I was an extremely privileged child. I am not referring to growing up in the lap of luxury. We were a middle class family. I am referring to the fact that I was privileged to have my parents - my dad in particular - around so much. They were both very accessible, even though they both worked. My mom was a public school teacher. My dad is a university professor. I have heard him refer to this profession as the best part time job you can ever have. His hours are very flexible. He was always home for dinner. We took long summer vacations. He had all holidays off. He was there. A lot. I thought this was normal. A lot of my friends had parents who were professors too. I didn't know it was an unusual life style.

And then I got married. To an accountant. Who ended up working for one of our country's largest and most troubled financial institutions (Citigroup). My introduction to corporate America has been rocky. What I thought was normal for a husband and father I have discovered is anything but. His hours are not flexible. If we wait long enough to eat dinner he may be home in time to eat with us two out five nights a week. The other nights he'll usually come home after the children are asleep. We do go on vacations, but he doesn't get every holiday off. I don't think I'll ever get used to him having to go into work the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.

When this lifestyle first started to reveal itself I was indignant and assumed that something was drastically wrong with this picture. Then I started listening to all of the other women around me. I realized our life was completely normal. Everyone's husband was getting home late at night and working weekends and traveling for their jobs and basically not being at home much. This knowledge just makes me feel more sad. This really is the new reality for our families? We're not allowed to have family dinners together because of the demands of the working world? I get so sad thinking about the years stretching ahead...our family gathering around the dinner table and discussing first days of school and science projects and what happened on the school bus and it being just me and the kids. I also feel sad complaining about it to Tyler, because what can he do? Other than go back to school for a PhD and become a university professor...then again, even that job isn't looking so good any more. I really am an adult now because I say with complete sincerity phrases like "what is the world coming to?" .

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