Location: Oregon, United States

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Role Reversal

We've been noticing an interesting trend around here with Paul in transition and me working and transitioning into a management role. Here are some examples:

1.) I came home one night and said, "Okay, I've got about 15 minutes and I need to go to that meeting." Paul looked at me, confused, and said, "What meeting?" "The one we talked about on Sunday, remember?" To which he replied, exasperated and put out, "Lydia, if it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist." Which I found exceedingly funny, because this was a direct quote from the past, only it used to be me saying it. I pointed this out, and we both lightened up. This time around, we have grace for one another, since we've literally lived in the other's shoes.

2.) I was washing the dishes one night after dinner, exhausted, and realizing I had no more energy to do anything else that day but crash. Then I realized I hadn't had any energy to do anything else but do my one thing and work on the computer for a few weeks. This used to drive me nuts about Paul. He was always so tired and couldn't participate in the things that needed to happen to keep the household running except on a limited basis. I suddenly understood where he was coming from. Paul came in the room and I said, "I realize I haven't been able to do more than just one thing for the family lately and I apologize." He got a smug but forgiving smile and said, "That's okay. You're cooking dinner every day and that is a huge help." "I know, but this used to drive me crazy about you and I want you to know I get it. I wish I could do more, but there's just no way." "It's okay, Lydia, I get it."

3.) The other night after dinner I laid down on the couch because dinner wasn't sitting well with me. I participated in the conversation around me from the couch for a while, then drifted off to sleep. I vaguely heard Paul leaving to walk the dog, which we normally do together, thought about trying to wake up, but reveled in the total relaxation, rolled over, and covered up with the blanket better. Three hours later, I went to bed and slept through the night. Then it happened again about three weeks later and I remembered that Paul used to do this, too! He would just check out of life around him and crash while the rest of us quietly went around our business. How weird! It didn't make any sense at the time - why would he lay on the couch in the middle of everything? (You keep thinking you just need a few minutes of shut-eye). How could he fall asleep with all the activity going on? (Wrong question. The real question is how could you not fall asleep in your plate?)

4.) Paul wanted me to think through something with him the other night. I couldn't even believe he would try to talk to me about this. My brain is fried, I'm home from work, but I still have at least 400 things to do or figure out. I looked at him with a smile on my face and quoted him from 4 years ago, "I can't be bothered." He used to say this was the running tape in his head and I thought it was so rude. The things I had to say were important and I wanted his input at the time. Now I get how overwhelming the small details can be and he understands the importance of partnering in decision-making. We both understand that we need to find a good time for this kind of conversation, rather than peppering the other incessantly with details that could probably wait.

Lest you all freak out, because the theme is exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed, do not fear. I am on a learning curve, and was not only learning my new job, but training the person taking my place. Nearly all my staff is new within the last 4 months and we have a lot to figure out. Things are beginning to make sense and I'm learning how to balance the demands of the job, not take home everything in my head, and compartmentalize. I'm even finding time to do things I really enjoy, like blogging, reading, and gardening. It is a process, but I'm enjoying it, and I have a husband that gets it. And, while he helps me to maintain balance, I get it from his perspective, too. We are able to laugh about ourselves and figure out how to support one another in this new chapter of our journey.


Blogger jp said...

If you ever find the time - you two could write a book!

7:26 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I love reading this. I am glad you have had this chance to experience another perspective. Great illustration of "until you walk a mile in his moccasins..." I'll try to remember this next time I feel like rolling my eyes in frustration over another person's "cluelessness".

5:23 AM  
Blogger Tracy P. said...

Now that I'm finally getting over here! This is very poignant. How kind of God to allow you each to see from the other's perspective and express grace. Very sweet!

12:04 PM  

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