Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Exorcising Demons

I’m sure some people think I’m a little crazy after reading yesterday’s blog.

Yes, I do talk to Buddy; in fact I tell him things that I don’t tell anyone else. But since he hasn’t divulged a secret in the last three years, I feel pretty good about talking to him.

I consider Buddy to be my own cute, albeit furry therapist. I just wish he could talk back sometimes.

But yesterday morning when his brown eyes looked at me, the entire blog post popped into my head. Maybe he does communicate in his own way.

I have to admit that I’m feeling guilty about not spending more time at home. What can I say? This work thing is getting in the way.

I promised myself years ago that I would balance my life between work and family but I’m finding that really tough these days. My job is demanding more and more from me; mainly because of these tough economic times.

But back to the balance issue; when I was a kid, my father spent a lot of time working. He had his own business and put in long hours. Also, he went on business trips for four days at a time every two weeks. I didn’t see him much.

At six years old, I didn’t understand the sacrifices a man in the 1960’s made to provide for his family. All I knew was that he was gone a lot. In my mind, I questioned whether he loved us because he wasn't home. Also, when he was home, he wasn’t there for us electing to nap on the sofa in front of the TV, but that is a different issue.

I grew up during a time when TV showed an idealized family. TV families were represented by the likes of June Cleaver who wore the perfect dress while cooking dinner for Ward who walked in precisely on time each evening. It was precocious Beaver who was the screw up in the family. But no matter how big the problem, it was always solved in 30 minutes.

I recognized pretty early my family wasn’t like the Cleaver’s. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming TV for anything. That reference is just there for comparison.

But "Leave it to Beaver" made me want to redirect my life. When I went to college, I considered working for newspapers as a writer. I worked at my local newspaper for two years prior to college and loved the work.

But remembering the Cleaver family steered me toward a job that would allow me to have regular 9-5 hours with weekends off. That original career path wouldn’t have had weekend work or nights on call or odd hours in the office.

That worked well for my first 25 years with this company, but a few years ago the company reorganized and my hours changed a little. At first it was no big deal. A weekend now and then, but I was given time off during the week to compensate. It still allowed for balance; lots of free time for my hubby and our child/pet, Buddy Rabbit.

But then this damned recession hit. A second shift was added but not enough people were hired to cover all the time. Soon that balance between work life and family life went out the window.

Unfortunately, I feel stuck in this job because I’m so close to retirement that I don’t think I can leave. I just didn’t know how bad my lack of balance got until Monday night when I walked in at home and Buddy ran from me.

For a moment, he didn’t know me and it broke my heart. I spent a long time playing with him Monday night and that jogged his memory, but I still knew that somewhere along the line I had turned into my father. I had turned into the man that is away from home. I had turned into the man that didn’t have much time to spend with his child (even if that child is a rabbit).

Yes, Buddy is a therapist in a lot of ways and right now he’s convinced me to re-evaluate my life once again. He told me that I have to regain the balance in my life because family won’t wait for me. Without change, I’ll just be the absent, forgotten man that sleeps in the house with them and that’s not the way I want my family to remember me.

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