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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Now that I'm not home by myself five nights a week armed only with my iPhone and a wooden spoon, I'm free to write about how badly it sucked being at home by myself five nights a week.

It sucked out loud.

It sucked far more for Steve, who actually had to be awake all night, then somehow manage to de-zombify long enough to keep Anna out of harm's way two days a week while also participating in fun family activities on weekends, when all his body wanted to do was collapse on itself and slip into a deep, quiet coma.

His shift was from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., so he'd walk in the door just as Anna and I were waking up. Usually she'd want nothing to do with him and would figuratively and then literally kick him square in the nuts when he'd come to lie with us in the morning. I'd get her ready and off to school, then sit to work and listen to Steve's apneic breathing until around 2. It felt lonelier having him home and unconscious than it did having him off at work. When he accepted the third shift I thought, we are going to be together every. waking. hour. But I ended up seeing even less of him than if he'd been on the nine-to-five — turns out there weren't many waking hours.

In our previous routine I had a husband who was awake and lucid for several hours per day. He'd do dishes, laundry, he'd vacuum. And then his position changed and for three months he slept, and when he was awake he wanted to sleep, and when he was alert he was kind of cranky. We'd bicker more, the house was a mess, we couldn't go out to weeknight dinners or rent movies, we'd have rushed sex in the time between getting Anna to sleep and sending Steve out the door (admittedly this wasn't all bad.)

It was three months that felt like forever, they were exhausting, I kept remembering that this wasn't a temporary situation but an indefinite one and tried to get used to the idea. Steve really liked the work and after a tough year, he was feeling good about being out there hunting and gathering again.

Thankfully Steve landed a new job working half a mile from home with a schedule that gets him through the door by 3:30 p.m. He has real benefits that include time off and a 401(k), movies at night and spontaneous dinners out. Anna still doesn't want to see him in the morning, but I'm more than happy to not be alone at night (she types from a hotel room sixty miles away).

I'm happiest for him, glad that our family is on a reasonable schedule again, and I have a ton of respect for the tired, dedicated people who keep this place running while the rest of us tuck into empty beds, waiting to be woken by the sweet sound of your keys in the door.

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