Don’t you just love the idea of going from “X” to “Y” in a short amount of time? The idea of waving a magic wand to affect change has always been part of our collective fantasy world. It’s why winning the lottery (or any contest) is so appealing; it’s how those TV shows suck us into watching, week after week, the radical transformations of homes, relationships, and bodies & faces. We wonder out loud about what we’d do if we won the jackpot or how our dwelling places, our parent-child relationships, or hips might look if only we were chosen to participate.
Now there is of course a flip side to this extreme-makeover coin. What happens when someone’s life turns the other way? Job loss, flood, or disfiguring accident? Those illustrate some instantaneous, catastrophic changes. But there are also those with a gradual onset: underemployment due to chronic illness, a lack of money to maintain one’s home, divorce, weight gain over years borne of depression.
There aren’t any serial shows I’m aware of that chronicle the “riches to rags” or “blissful to downtrodden” story. (Sidenote: I haven’t had a TV since 2009, so if such programming exists, I’m ignorant of it.)
All in all, I think it’s fair to say that no one likes an unhappy ending. Instead, we want to see that oversized check with the string of zeros, the bulldozer with its sharp blade, the family have a teary group hug, and the liposuction machine filling up.
This idea from going from one thing to another has been on my mind a lot over the last few months and very much in the last few weeks. There’s a lot happening globally and nationally–most of which is catastrophic, and there’s a lot going on locally–most of which is chronic.
In addition to those events, there’s been a bit of a shake up in my own home: I am currently spouse-less. My husband took our 15-year-old to Europe four days ago. This is the first time, since Rob and I partnered twenty years ago, that he has been away from our home (without me) ever. While I go away all the time to see family and friends, Rob simply doesn’t.
It would be blatantly ignorant for me to compare my last 96 hours to the lives of women who raise their children on their own. However, I feel like I have undergone an extreme makeover of sorts being the only adult in my house with three children. I’m expected to do a lot more than I am accustomed to doing. And frankly, it’s somewhat unpleasant having so much responsibility to a house and the people who live there.
My observations have led me to appreciate two things:
1) Rob does a shit ton of work, and
2) He’s better at this than I am.
Being alone, for me, is anxiety-provoking. Of this I am not proud. Long since passed are the days when the idea of “living on my own” held such appeal. And while I routinely fantasize about escape, it wouldn’t be to some remote cabin in the woods, it would be to a loud and bustling city.
So when the day comes that I win the lottery (though I don’t play) and have huge sums of cash deposited into my bank account, you can look for me in a Parisian cafe with a double espresso. Meanwhile, Rob will be with our four children thriving thanks to his capacity to parent and manage and entertain far better than I do.
Happy Belated Father’s Day from your (semi-competent) wife. Hurry home. For the sake of your three children. They need you.