Relational Calculus

Right now my wife is traveling for her job. She left this morning before sunrise (such as that is on an overcast, rainy day) and will return tomorrow evening, well after sundown. That means I’m solo parenting for a couple of days (though Maddie is with the babysitter during work hours), but in a more abstract way, it means all the responsibilities of the house fall to me. The same thing will happen next week when Valerie travels again, and potentially for a longer stretch in January.

My own immaturity and short temper have made a fool of me a couple times because of this. It’s easy to be annoyed at being “stuck at home” – not for having to watch my kid, rather in a sense, having a bit more of my week dictated and inflexible. I try to balance the scales by petulantly demanding some time for myself whenever she returns.

Unfortunately, it’s just as easy to forget that Valerie isn’t traveling for fun. I know what she does on these trips, and it’s generally working from morning until evening, with brief meal stops punctuating a day of measuring hotel interiors and the like. Sure, most parents know there’s some value in getting a break from their children, but Valerie doesn’t owe me anything when she gets back.

Relationships aren’t math or accounting. There’s no balancing of entries for free time, dining out, or chores. I’ve been married for 10 years and I know I’ll still be working on this until I croak. But knowing about the ongoing maintenance required of any human relationship doesn’t make the day to day any easier. Self-awareness of my own shortcomings doesn’t excuse their manifestations.

I guess I’m just saying I miss my wife right now.