I arrived home early from a birth last night, only about 10:30pm, and was irritated to find my husband was already in bed. I headed up to the bedroom, theater whispered "I need you!" and huffed back down stairs. Poor, sleepy John came down after me asking what was wrong.
What was wrong? Nothing, really. I needed him to review the addendum our realtor had sent over and sign it so I could send it back to her. Except, it was an electronic signature, and we had already discussed it over the phone as I headed to the birth. So, I guess I really didn't need him. I was being a jerk. There were dishes in the sink, laundry that needed to get changed over, and a few other minor things I was irritated about having to do while he was already asleep. I had also been looking forward to some snuggles and a glass of wine before bed. None of this was really his fault. As I sat internally scolding myself John asked me where in the world I bought the milk in the glass bottle. I stifled a laugh
"Crap! You didn't drink that, did you?"
"Ah, yeah. A lot of it. I was really excited you finally bought milk. Why? What was it?!"
"Whey. I made cheese today with Stephanie before heading to the birthday party and saved the whey to ferment some vegetables." He looked concerned.
"Dammit. Am I gong to get sick? When did you do that? I thought you went to the gym this morning. I helped you pack up the kids for the gym this morning. Dammit. I drank a lot of that!" Laughter no longer stifled.
"Well how did you drink a lot of it if it tasted bad. Wouldn't you realize it wasn't milk? Didn't you see the cheese in the container"
"It said milk all over the bottle. It was even on the cap! And how would I know what that was? It's just some white stuff in a container. You have weird things going on all over the kitchen." I'm assuming this was a reference to the fire cider, ginger bug, andassorted pickled veggies, all stashed away in our kitchen. He was right, though. How could he know what I had done that day? We had barely spoken since loading the kids into the car at 8:30 that morning. I realized I knew nothing about how his day had gone either.
I wanted him to stay up a bit longer with me and tell me about his day. I knew that if he went to bed now, in all honesty, I would probably never know. Tomorrow is another day packed with things to do. When he gets home we have plans to go out for the first time since our son was born. We will be running out the door soon after he gets home, and I will probably only hear a snapshot of how today was for him. There will be no room for yesterday. I feel myself get slightly irritated wondering why he is so much more tired than I am; After-all, it's not like I could still be riding the adrenaline high of watching life come into the world.
I quickly check my attitude, knowing the pissing contest for whose day was harder is a lose-lose fight. From the outside we both had it easier. I went to the gym, sure, but I went to classes I enjoy. I made cheese with a friend - something else I enjoy, then went to a party, then fulfilled my passion assisting a very peaceful mother as she met her baby in record time. What's so hard about that? That sounds great! He went to a job with a schedule (Oh, the joy of predictability!), knew when he would get out and that there would be a break, never had to find a last minute sitter or two, then picked up our son, only had one child to wrangle, and probably got to hang out with friends for a bit. He even said the baby fell right asleep in the car and didn't wake coming into the house. Easy-Peasy.
What we don't know about the other's day is probably more important. The moments we never know about are the ones that would make us more gentle with one another. I didn't realize he had woken up early that morning to spend time with me before I had to leave. I didn't know how hard he worked reorganizing heavy stock out back, or how many rude customers he had. I didn't know that his break was only 10 minutes, which he had to spend on the phone with our realtor and lender. I didn't know that he only got to visit with our friends for a few minutes because Ro was losing his mind. I didn't know how he had to stealthily change the baby when he got home - because I forgot to pack a diaper so our incredibly clever friend had to wrap him in her daughters panties and a maxipad, He didn't know how my day sounded better on paper, either. How halfway through yoga - my second class of the day - I realized my pants were on inside out. How the baby wanted to nurse all afternoon, so instead of helping make cheese I mostly sat cross legged on the floor with his son, while his daughter took advantage of that time to do everything she knew she shouldn't. How I overbooked as usual and wound up late to the party, then had to leave only an hour later when my client called with contractions 2-4 minutes apart. How I felt horribly guilty for having my friend babysit WHILE hosting her daughters party at 35 weeks pregnant. How sometimes the easy births are harder for me, because I feel like I'm being judged for not doing enough. How at every birth there is at least one moment where I miss him so badly it hurts, because I am watching the love between other couples as they meet their babies, and it reminds me how amazing he is and makes me want to rush home to cuddle and share a glass of wine.
Of course we miss the good parts too. I won't hear the jokes he told at work, or know how he made a huge sale to a very nice older couple. He won't know how Beanie beamed when I taught her to climb down the rock wall, or how the father thanked me for explaining something that made him go pale. But we love each other, and so we don't need to know these things to know they matter.
I kiss him goodnight and say a goodbye to this day of his I will never know. marveling at how even the person who understands you completely really only knows a tiny portion of you. I think back with a twinge of longing to our first years together, when we had every night to sit and talk. We played board games and laid in bed for hours. Our days off were entirely our own. On occasion we even had the luxury of being bored. I try to remember what bored felt like. Now our best conversations are in the last hour before bed, or when the kids fall asleep in the car.
I look at this time in our lives - this trial by fire - and know these are the years that will make us. These are the years where we learn that we don't need to hear every explanation from the person we love to be kind to them and always give them the benefit of the doubt. We are moving from the easy love of worry free youth to the quiet and steady love of a growing family, growing businesses, and dwindling time. We can now communicate three hours worth of information with a look exchanged over coffee and noisy, sticky children. When we are older, and the offspring need less of our time and attention, there are fewer playdates and parties to attend, and hopefully our lives are in enough order to not require both of us working 7 days a week I hope we will look back and say that we learned what we could from all of this, and always did our best to put family first. I hope we never run out of things to fill our time with, but that we get the chance to relearn how to fill our time with mostly each other. That we are even happier playing games and, if the years don't take too much of a toll, just enjoy a day in bed.