Like cookies and ketchup, liverwurst and celery, cabbage and yogurt, I can’t begin to list all of the times my husband and I have arrived at the same place, but separately…never together. We’ve been together for almost 3 decades, but probably spend most of our time trying to connect, trying to coordinate, and trying to make it all work. It’s a crazy juggling routine that takes great skill, beyond our performing as a part of our circus. And yes, ours is a three ring circus, complete with a big top and popcorn to go.
When we met, he was intending to move from Brooklyn to manhattan, and I was all set to attend Grad school in Delaware…or so we thought. Taken completely by surprise to be in a committed relationship, 8 weeks later we were engaged to be married, and a year later, we were. Plans changed, locations changed, and the next thing I know, I am both, working and attending grad school full time in Manhattan, and he is working there, while both of us are living in Staten Island. We couldn’t even commute together because of our schedules, and the next few years added on clinical rotations to this, already crazed, schedule. This routine continued for several years and, sporadically, we had surprise date nights to meet in the city to spend time together. I do miss those nights. Contrary to popular belief, I love surprises, (if dressed appropriately) (I hate being ill prepared), but, moreso, love the forethought that goes into the surprise…there’s nothing like someone taking the time to plan something with you in mind…that’s just amazing on their part.
Next came kids, and childcare, sitters, schedules, preschool, extracurriculars, gradeschool, more extracurriculars, hebrew school, middle school, music lessons, dance lessons, high school, clubs, interests, projects, and even more extracurriculars, all added to hubby’s bowling leagues, softball teams, and basketball teams, and my dual work schedule, late night patients, yoga, and all of our other things, too many to recall. We took turns, always in separate cars, to make it to each of these things, all while commuting, working crazy hours, and raising our family while trying to balance all of the pieces and also participate in events with family and friends. …who had to be where, until when, which was closer in proximity to what or whom, and next had to be where, by when, wearing what, carrying what, and all in time to be back for who knows what. My kids have always had backpacks, Tupperware containers, snacks, water bottles, watches, and organizers out of necessity. Others were thrown when our kids were some of the last to have cell phones of their own; where were they going on their own without us picking up or dropping off that they couldn’t find an adult in charge or a landline to use? Nowhere that we knew. They always knew that one of us would be there…probably not both, but one of us. And yes, very rarely, both of us. We even arrived at family functions in multiple cars, always coming from or going to separate places.
College has been no different an experience for them. Distances make it even more difficult, but one of us moves them in, or out, or back or forth, or to or from, and so it goes and goes and goes. This past weekend, at the completion of their finals, we had to be at a weekend family event, 2 hours north of us from home, and 3.5 hours and 6 hours north of them. We made it there in bits and pieces, to much more of it than not, snow included, formal wear and weekend necessities in hand, snacks, tupperware, and all the essentials. I found it humerous as each extended family member sporadically asked about each of their ETAs, while I was the one there with all of them. If they hadn’t “checked in” on facebook, I might not have known that each of them had arrived! And, of course, with different places to get to, we each left the same way, though enjoying the time we did spend, together.
Maybe this makes for a greater sense of responsibility, time management, preparedness, or flexibility, or maybe each of those things can be amazing on their own and while acompanying other things. I’m not a fan of liverwurst, and celery is great with the right dip, even made from yogurt, but who can do without ketchup or resist cookies? …None of my circus.