On the hottest day of the year so far, the air conditioning at work was broken, and I had to change my schedule to wait for the repairman. The finance office was asking about checks we had issued more than a year ago, and I was dealing with an unhappy volunteer.
Since the box wasn’t an option (and would probably have been even hotter than my office), I considered screaming, but that wouldn’t have been very productive either. Nor did I have the option of going home to a partner who could sympathize with me. So I just dealt with each issue as best I could. Then went home to a husband was walking out the door on his way to work after having fixed dinner for our kids.
Such has been my less than traditional life for the past ten years when my husband took at job that required him to work evenings and weekends.
It’s a life that has its ups: a parent has almost always been home when the kids are off school or need transportation. It’s also a life that has its downs: there is generally only one parent available for two kids, and our time together as a family is very, very limited – even on holidays. And sometimes, it’s down right painful.
I will never forget the women at church who made the snide comment “at least my husband comes to church.” I kept my mouth shut (unusual for me), but what I wanted to say was “It’s kind of hard for him to deliver a national news broadcast from a church pew.”
Her comment represented what my out of the ordinary life has taught me over the past ten years: even though our lives, our families and our children often don’t fit into a neat package with a label, society operates as if they should.
I like proving they shouldn’t.
When people automatically assume that my teenage son plays sports, I take pride in telling them that he has other interests.
When people assume that my daughter is at an age when she feels the need to follow the crowd, I like talking about how she boasts about being a nerd who loves science fiction.
And when people assume that my husband and I have time together on the weekend, I appreciate how his strange hours have made me so incredibly independent.
I realize that the boxes in which we put people and situations can be comforting, but some things were never meant to fit in a box. And even when they do, they usually aren’t very useful.
In fact, I’ve yet to find anything that works best when it is still in a box, even when I feel like hiding in one.
Getting out of the box, tearing off the labels and making every situation our own is when great things happen.
Or as my mother used to tell me, “Just remember that Albert Einstein was never called normal.”
And I’m pretty sure she’s proud that I haven’t been either.