The suitcases are in the hall, ready to go out before dawn. My husband is upstairs in the guest room so that he won’t wake me at 4:30, suit laid out, shoes and briefcase set close by. He is on the road again.
I have spent a lot of time resenting his going, angry at being left home, taking care of two high-maintenance (but amazing) kiddos and even more high-maintenance pets. The overwhelming isolation and exhaustion ignites my selfishness.
Part of it is justified. Things always seem to go wrong when he is away. The freak hail storm that attacks the house with snowball-sized pellets, the neighborhood association trying to fine me $1000 for an automated sprinkler mishap, the coyote pack baying on the greenbelt, the smoke alarms that start going off at 2:30 in the morning for no reason – they all sense that he is gone with demonic prescience. I decided that all the crises happening in his absence are possibly a form of spiritual attack. They hit all my weak spots and insecurities.
When we married, I finally relented a little bit on my control issues, ceding huge amounts of household maintenance and financial responsibility over to someone else, and now it is coming back to bite me. I don’t know where any tools are, where any control boxes are, and I have little information on our finances. I cannot field most inquiries that come in. Often it is impossible to reach my husband on the road, when he is in a meeting, on a plane, or on a conference call. None of that justifies the level of my frustration and resentment, though. He is just trying to do the best for us and the best he can at his job. I should not ask him to do less. Even though Ted is gone a lot, I had the shocking realization that maybe he values our family more than I do. I have not given its support a higher level of importance.
I have joked that it would be easier if he took really long international business trips, like some of our friends do. At least we would have less disruption and more frequent flyer miles. I also thought for a while that if he were deployed in combat, rather than in the service of a Fortune 50 company, I would be comforted by the higher purpose and meaning in his sacrifice. I have not given him enough credit; there is meaning in his sacrifice. Even it is not for our country, it is for us.
My husband, although not Catholic, would benefit from praying to St. Joseph the worker, the quiet, yet solid figure who supported and protected his family. I have even thought about giving him a sleeping St. Joseph statue, like the Pope uses to put his prayer requests under. However, our St. Joseph would need a mini CPAP machine to address his snoring. It also occurred to me that maybe I should be the one praying to St. Joseph; praying for more understanding, less self-centeredness, and, yes, help with my own work.
We women make a lot of noise about our own working and it is defensible. I work two jobs, take care of the kids and the house (sort of) and volunteer. However, sometimes I am too focused on what I do to appreciate what my husband is doing for us. He makes huge sacrifices for our support without complaint or drama. I don’t hear as much respect for men’s work in general these days. It is understood that they will be St. Josephs, working in the background to support and protect our families. Many of us who are lucky to have such a figure in our lives, take this gift for granted. If we want our sons to grow up to be good men and our daughters to discern good husbands, we need to celebrate the St. Josephs in our lives.
I know Our Lady is well-represented in our home, and is time that her husband is, too. Ted and St. Joseph are both good role models for what it truly means to be a worker. Of course, only one of them can be found in our driveway at 5 a.m., in his underwear, on a conference call. I’ll let you use your imagination for that one.