12 March 2010

Keeping Up With the Joneses isn't Easy to do in Uniform

It's been almost a month since A started daycare but only about a week since M started job hunting. As we've all finally adapted to the new routine and are finally getting comfortable, M was offered a job with the following hours: Noon to 8 pm, Sunday through Friday. He accepted the job but...
with some trepidation. After all, those hours meant that he'd no longer have two full days with us or at least, with Amelie...and save for about a half an hour early each morning, he wouldn't see her at all during his new work week.

I suppose that, for some parents, this is OK. It's part of life and probably what they've known from the end of maternity leave. For M and A of course, the bond formed in the nearly two years they spent every day, all day together, isn't so easily broken.

We discussed this briefly and both of us retreated into our heads for a while yesterday. He was contemplating 6 days a week of not seeing his family; I was trying to figure out the logistics of not-quite-opposite-shifts and only one car, never mind what we'd do on those two Saturdays a month that I had to work. I should note that by doing this, it meant that I didn't have to contemplate 6 nights a week without him home before I went to bed either.

He told me that he'd discussed my military requirements briefly with the interviewer when she was giving him the hours and days - and that she seemed shocked. "Oh. The reserves might go to Iraq?!"

In thinking of the absurdity of that exchange, I realized that if/when I deployed, a noon to 8 schedule for him would be all but impossible without a network of family and friends willing to take up the slack. After all, it's not as if we live on base or around people who do think of the logistics of deployments and family care because, well, they don't have to.

Suddenly, my offhanded, "Well honey, we'll be just like every other American family now! Both parents working themselves to death and overscheduling their lives, juggling daycare and baby sitters and never seeing their own kids! We're normal now," didn't seem so amusing. We are not normal and never will be so long as the potential for me to deploy is always looming.

I also got a little angry. He accepted the job immediately because he felt like he had to. It's this economy, you know? Or so we've been hearing for so long. Someone so lucky to find a job almost immediately shouldn't turn it away, especially knowing that there are still so many without.

But is social guilt over spending two days putting out applications and resumes and getting hired to work hours that are really unacceptable for so many reasons really the right thing to do?


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