Technically, I worked from home to start and end the week, but the middle represented my transition back to being in the office full-time while my wife is home for the summer.
There’s so many things that are strange in all of this.
In all the year’s we’ve been together she’s almost always taught summer school so for her to be home more than a couple of weeks just feels odd to contemplate. It will be far from a vacation since she will be transferring to a new school that will require new lesson plans, departmental prep work, etc. on top of managing the household alone with the Padawan growing as quickly as they are toward mobility.
It’s also weird for me after so much time working from home alone with the Padawan for that routine to change again. In the two days we were apart it was tough to keep focused and work toward a new in-office routine. I found myself constantly checking the clock for our old pattern of doing things and my mind drifting anytime I was away from my desk to what it would be like to take that break instead to do a bottle feeding or a stroll around the block or to sit on the porch and read a book together. It was an adjustment not to have those daily discoveries together, those unique bonding moments only we could have because we were alone getting through the day.
It was strange not having to think through what to do when I had to take a shit or make a cup of coffee and just be able to get up and do it. It was strange getting back to the commute – the walk, the train, the subway – rather than just rolling out of bed and getting started. It was definitely an adjustment to being able to work straight through on something as long as my mind could handled it and not in 30-minute bursts with constant threat of interruption (well, that’s not true, there’s always interruptions in the office).
I was super fortunate to have those nearly six weeks with him at a stage that was awesome to experience with him, I’m forever grateful and thankful for it. It was a bittersweet ending but one I knew was coming and with that something new to experience to be had in the next stage.
There were tears. Mostly Monday and Tuesday as I reacted more to what felt like a lot of lasts and finals kind of moments, at least for now. It’s ok though because Padawan’s mere presence was enough to lift me out of the meloncholic attitude before it really set in.
In reflecting on what I learned from Padawan this week, it wasn’t so much about their growth and development – things like beginning to reach and grip more (particularly this elephant rattle toy they’re quite taken by), or fighting the bottle as a subtle form of rebellion / exercise of control, or even the increased awareness when behind the drumset. It was more their presence has had on me.
Most in particular about changes in my expectations about communication and my execution of what I might want to try and say. In the past I typically would be more aggressive with thoughts and opinions – in praise, in criticism, in conversation in general and especially among family and friends the unfiltered, uncensored and uninhibited version of what went on in my head would come out either on paper or from my mouth. While honesty is good, it doesn’t have to occur by brute force. I realize the rawness is not something I want to either pass along as a learned behavior for them or that my own use of it could potentially put us in a position where it’s mistaken or misconstrued that could cost the Padawan something down the line, be it a relationship with family or friends or some other opportunity in school or work or whatever. If someone was upset with me in the past because of how I expressed myself it was much easier to write off as it only affected me and I could attempt mend that fence whenever I wanted. Now, however, it’s not only reflective of me and affects me but can and will have a direct influence on outcomes for them. Furthermore, they won’t have the experience or maturity to deal with the consequences of miscommunication until they’re much older. So, it’s made me more conscious of what I say (at least so far as the words I chose and the medium for expression – what I sound like, that’s a whole different ballgame).
It’s also changed my priorities. I touched on this briefly in trying to explain Father’s Day. I’m career oriented but not obsessive to the point where it’s all consuming. I enjoy challenging myself to but never to the point where it becomes overwhelming as a desire. I’ve always been active but never to the point where there’s no sense of downtime. So, it isn’t as if this is an exercise in realigning my priorities in the traditional sense of making more time for the Padawan or family in general. This is more about subtle adjustments in the order of opperations and how I internally define what’s “important” to me. There are a lot more gray areas now than there ever were before but there’s also a much higher contrast between them as well. It represents a different way of perceiving the world: in how opportunities are evaluated and ultimately acted upon. Maybe for most outsiders they won’t see much of a difference by the internal process definitely changed – even if I can’t put all the parameters involved into words quite yet. It’s definitely inspired by fatherhood and the new definition of family I am presented with.
Finally, I learned that I hate my commute. I love walking to the station in the morning. I love the view of the river on the train. I love coming above ground from the subway into the heart of the city’s bustle. But, I don’t love how long the entire process takes end-to-end. I don’t love the sheer volume of people and how many of them are completely self-absorbed, impolite, oblivious assholes. I don’t love the stress of timing it and hoping the MTA in all of its idiosyncrasies doesn’t throw a wrench into it. I don’t love getting home so late and feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the evening with everyone awake that I can enjoy the family life. Honestly, I knew all this before but it never really manifest itself in this kind of expression because it honestly affected only me. The reality of what it is now though clearly has the possibility of impacting more than that and it made me surface my true feelings about it.
On the flip side though, it’s a long weekend and a short week next week of which I can potentially send half of it working from home again too so this likely won’t be the end of the WFHWTF series !