Marriage and the Single Girl

That’s what this is, corporate wifery. Or spousery. Whatever. It’s being married, and being single, depending on your partner’s schedule.

My husband left on Sunday with his boss, to take a corporate jet to South America. He left at 8:00 a.m. He did this after taking my two dear friends from my old hometown to a different airport… at 4:15 a.m. This, he did, after a Friday and Saturday of being the parent in charge as I spent a fantastic 40 hours with my friends.

So, aside from being a king among men, a prince among frogs, a gem among gravel, he’s gone a lot. He doesn’t like it, I don’t like it, the kids don’t like it, but it’s the way it is.

I was irritated about it the other night. Really irritated. Because I don’t hear from him while he’s away. He’s working and under stress and his sleep pattern is all jacked up, but in his mind, he knows the kids and I are fine. He’s occupied–I doubt he has time to miss me. Or it is too tender a thing, to give himself time to miss me and the kids. So he focuses.

Me? I’m here, occupying myself as best I can. I started running again, as in longer than a mile at a stretch. (It’s what I did when he lived in Armenia for four months after we’d been dating for a year. Ended up running a marathon when he lived in a different city for grad school.) I cleaned up the garage to store our patio furniture. The garage is my husband’s domain, but it might snow Friday, and he won’t be back till late Friday night. All the other neighbors’ have moved their furniture already–I got panicky. To make room for the furniture I moved three huge wood palates (they had held our new bathroom vanity and glass shower door in our new basement bathroom) and dozens of square feet of scrap drywall and cement board that remain from the addition (final mechanical, electrical, and plumbing inspections passed by the way, though I need to apply some silicon gel around the base of the toilet and change a wall plate before final building inspection). I examined the damaged door leading from the garage to our back yard and figured out how I’d take a puppy out to the back yard from there… (did I mention we’re likely to bring a puppy home in December?).

I felt strong, and filthy, and tired…  And… single. All good things.

I made dinner for the kids and me tonight. We sat and ate together. I helped our daughter study for her social studies test and tried not to confuse her with extra knowledge (I was a poli sci major). I commended our son for doing about three times the amount of work he needed to do tonight–he just wanted to occupy himself while his sister studied. What second grader volunteers to work on his handwriting skills? Ours does.

I do this, alone. And I feel too responsible, sometimes, for them. I think about us bringing a puppy into our home, and I feel too responsible for that guy, knowing that my husband will be as available–time-wise–to the dog as he is to me and the kids… And I feel sad for my husband, and for us.

But then I don’t. He works harder than anybody I know. Anybody. And I… well, I am not a typical person. I need to accept that about myself. There must be a part of me that needs to be a little bit single. And maybe my husband too, needs it. The time away, to be your own person, responsible for things that only you can handle. You end up needing your mate for the right things, in the right way.

One of my best friends reminded me of this. She doesn’t know this, but she did. There is something gratifying, fulfilling, about not being with my husband every day. About parenting without him a fair amount of the time. About handling things on my own.

Being married–you commit to be partners, forever. But a partnership is only as strong as what the two parties bring to the table. For every hour we’re apart, we’re getting stronger, independently of each other. And we come back to each other, better, more confident. More appreciative of the shoulder we can lean on when we reunite.

Or at least, these are the things I tell myself after a glass of wine, after the kids are in bed, after getting an email from my husband that one leg of his South American tour might be canceled; that he might be home two hours earlier on Friday.

Little things like this thrill me. He might actually kiss the kids goodnight on Friday, them in their costumes. He’ll have more sleep before we go meet the puppy litter again on Saturday morning.

Here’s to being thrilled. All alone on your couch. It’s delicious.

Facts worth sharing

We’ve endured about two and a half years of knowing things and not sharing everything. Well, we’d share, but not broadly, and never completely. It’s counter to my nature, not to share. It got to where I was censoring myself in this blog, because its readership grew. Everything was so absurd.

Past tense. Did you notice that?

Here are some facts I’d like to share. Because I can, now.

Present tense.

The company my husband worked for, once a joint venture between two larger parent companies, is now a sole venture, owned by one of the parent companies. (There was a divorce, if you will, with a huge settlement.) My husband, assigned to the venture by one of the parent companies (his official employer), has been (finally) released and promoted. To carry the marriage metaphor further, his employer gave up custody of the venture, and as such, no longer needed my husband to serve as its financial caregiver.

It was a big deal. Big enough to disrupt our lives for two and half years (if inertia can count as disruption), big enough for my husband to be willing to take one for the team and put his career on hold in order to meet his employer’s needs.

And now it’s over. His new job with his ever-present employer officially starts today, about 1200 miles north of his wife and children. And because we never do things the easy way, he’s currently working with his team offsite, about 7500 miles away. He’ll return Thursday, to the place due north, and live, at least on weekdays, in temporary housing. He’ll come home on weekends, until we leave this house and move into our new one.

We’ll all be together in our new home by mid-May. Yep. We’re really, truly moving. We’ll be on a plane on May 9 or 10 (whichever day has the better airfare).

We’ve been preparing and planning and plotting and what have you for a while now. We took that house hunting trip in late February, and found and bought a house in about 36 hours. The next weekend, we chose a listing agent to sell our home. The weekend after that, our house was on the market for about three days, and in that time, we showed it 15 times and had three offers. So, we sold it in about 36 hours. We set up the schedule for the moving company… they’ll pack and move our things over the course of… about 36 hours… during the first week of May. The truck with all of our physical belongings will arrive at our new home between May 12 and 15.

Between now and then, I really only have to figure out how to make sure the kids are enrolled in school so that they can attend for the remaining four weeks of the year. “Figuring out” means waiting for the appropriate paperwork to be available. I should also figure out how to make lunches for the kids during the last week we’re here but living in a hotel while our home is packed up. (They don’t like school-sold lunches.) Figuring that out might require asking for some help from a friend or two.

As I told my husband, if these are my big concerns, I basically have no concerns. He agreed. (He’s exceptionally good at humoring me.)


This is our current home. We’ve lived here since January, 2008. Our children swim like fish, fear nothing in nature, and barely know how to tie shoes, as shoes have been virtually unnecessary here. It has been a lovely place to raise young children.





And this is our new home. I’m pretty sure the snow will have melted by the time we arrive. I’m not sure how long we’ll live here. Three years? Five? Whatever it is, I look forward to sharing.





“Bossy” is not the R-Word

Beyonce and Sheryl Sandberg are two women I am not eager to take issue with–I admire them both. I want my daughter–and son–to admire them, too. The two women are smart, independent, confident and successful people who run huge business enterprises with effectiveness, and, probably, with grace and compassion. Maybe they bring the hammer down, too, now and again, when they’re not getting the results they want. Bosses do that sometimes.

They have this new campaign to “Ban Bossy,” because words matter and apparently by middle school, some girls are not eager to be leaders because they fear being called “bossy.” Hmmm.

Look–I don’t want my children or my nieces or nephews or any other child to be called a name out of animosity or as an unintentional put-down. I don’t want any child hurt because of the ignorant or intended use of a hurtful word. Try using the R-word in front of me. I will bring the hammer down on your psyche.

But a girl being called bossy? Maybe I’m a jerk, but it doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is what a girl’s reaction to the word might be… what any person’s reaction might be to a word that is neither cruel nor vile.

I say this, as a likely jerk (but not a cruel nor vile one), because I too, have been called bossy. The thing is, I am quite content with *being* bossy. I’m good at it. And to all the girls (and women) out there who don’t like to be or don’t want to be called bossy?

Get ready for some advice from a middle-aged bossy pants. (Advice, not law. My opinion, not fact. If you’re a bossy girl like me, you probably love rules. But what I’m about to say? Ignore it or lap it up, I’m okay with either.) Here goes.

If you’re being called bossy, it’s for one of two reasons: 1) you’re being a bad boss, and the person using the word has a limited vocabulary and intends to say something else, or 2) you’re being a good boss, and the person using the word just doesn’t feel like being bossed by you.

If it’s reason number 2 — well, relax. You can’t change that. Maybe play a different game, or try another tactic. (Read on, this will make sense in a couple paragraphs.)

But what’s a girl to do with reason number 1?

For starters, what’s a bad boss? Well, a bad boss loves, or needs, to be around people who agree with her and do things for her. A bad boss doesn’t communicate her goals or needs very well, and kind of expects people to just *know.* A bad boss is quick to lose her temper and punish her subordinates rather than help them improve. A bad boss tends to speak loudly, and not very nicely, to the people she bosses. A bad boss takes credit for the good others do, and blames others when she makes a mistake.

And a good boss? Well, she’s basically the opposite of all that above. She likes to surround herself with people who think differently some, if not all the time. She’s actually a bit suspicious of those who are too nice to her, too eager to do what she wants. She is always very clear about what she wants, and is eager to learn what other people want. She doesn’t lose her temper very often, and if she does, it’s for a damn good reason. Mostly though, she wants to help people be better at whatever they’re doing. She tends to speak less and listen more. She will take the blame for her subordinates without hesitation, and she will give (and broadcast) credit to those same folks freely. She shares. She knows she’s not perfect. She’s knows she’s not alone.

Come to think of it, she sounds a lot like a good friend (just one who is ultimately accountable and has a certain level of power over you).

So. If somebody calls you bossy, know that yes, you are a leader, you are comfortable being in charge, you have high expectations, you are ambitious, all that good stuff. But… Yes, “but.”

If somebody calls you bossy, you–as all effective leaders do–need to look at yourself. Think about how you’re treating people. Sometimes people say “bossy” when they mean “dismissive” or “impatient” or “self-centered.” You know, that bad-boss vibe.

And kids don’t always have the best or most accurate vocabulary. Sometimes they just mean “mean.” Are you listening to others and caring about their opinions? Are you being patient? Are you treating your friends well? Do your friends just want a chance to be in charge, too? Are you sharing? Are you acknowledging that you might not be right?

I don’t want to hurt your feelings with this advice, and I especially don’t want the word “bossy” to hurt your feelings. I want all the bossy girls out there to *own* their bossiness, and know that they always have a choice: be a good boss, or be a bad boss.

After all, being called “bossy” didn’t stop Sheryl Sandberg, did it? I’m guessing that she’s an excellent boss, at least most of the time (being human, and all).

Banning  the word “bossy” won’t change much. Hearing “leadership skills” instead of “bossy” won’t make you a better leader, a better boss, or even a better friend.

Leadership. Friendship. These are actions. They are the result of learned behaviors.

So be bossy, already. Be a friend. Lead, listen, and learn. Lean in, too, if you want.

Just always be willing to be better at it.

**Updated** Just watched this ABC news piece on first-grade girls’ reactions to the word. Girls in that television segment seemed to understand that it was a *behavior* that was evoking a negative reaction from the person using the word “bossy.” “People don’t like to be bossed around.” Exactly, little girl. I’ll say this in another way. For some reason, there are women out there who have been called “bossy” and it didn’t change their ambitions. There are girls like that, too: 2/3 of them, per the research cited. Rather than banning a word, how about we focus on what makes those 2/3 less concerned about the word?