Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's not about the rice...

My friend Amy and I have an expression when ever we are analyzing a situation: "It's not about the rice." This comes from a profound moment shared between my darling husband and I.

Since I have already shared that we are not always sunshine and lollipops this story won't shock you, well at least not too much.

When John was promoted a few years back he went to work the steady midnight shift. Five nights a week, he worked from 11pm to 7am. It was the catch 22 of the promotion. You have to work the overnight the first year. When his Captain called to tell him he got the job, I thought about not telling him about the call. I knew we were headed for steady midnights.

I've worked the over night...something odd happens to you. Somewhere around 2 or 3 am, you lose your filter. You no longer have the ability to stop what you are thinking from coming out of your mouth. As a matter of fact, you probably even think what you are saying is appropriate.
Most of my overnights were worked while I was a single woman living alone...the year I worked the overnight, while homeschooling, was quite a challenge. Fortunately, I only worked part time that year. I am pretty sure the kids all have wounds from it! It will be the source of their need for therapy when they get older.

But back to John. He was working that shift, like I said, five days a week, plus whatever overtime came his way.

I like to call it the season of nurturing his inner jerk.

Mostly I treated him like a psych patient. I didn't make sudden moves. I always addressed him while in front of him. No unexpected touches...Eventually I just drugged the poor guy. He would walk in the door at around 9am and I would hand him a Melatonin or two (sometimes I wanted to give him 9!) and send him to bed until 9pm. Some days he was up more, but for the most part it was a long year of single parenting. I spent most weekends telling the children to be quiet because daddy was sleeping...I took little comfort in the fact that at least I was not telling them to be quiet because daddy was sleeping it off.

And to say tensions grew would be an understatement.

One Sunday after church, we decided we would have Chinese for lunch. John was going to run in to get it. I told him I wanted the usual: pork fried rice. That was it. He asked if he could have some. Sure, I don't mind sharing.

When we got home, John sat down with his, I settled the kids with their lunch and I opened my pork fried rice to discover it was not pork fried rice. It was chicken fried rice. I don't like or eat chicken fried rice. John ordered it because he thought it would be nice for a change...

I cried. He offered to go back.

And then I blew...


Now come on, every woman reading this gets what I meant. I don't even really need to explain it except that there might be a guy reading this.

My tears had nothing to do with rice. It was about my missing the guy that went to work one night and came home acting like someone else. That guy who always puts me and the kids first. The guy that would share my pork fried rice out of the same container with me. The guy that would never put his need above ours.

Of course the argument could be made that he was putting us first by working those crazy hours and succeeding in his career. But I didn't want to hear it at that point. I just missed my guy. It was a year of discovering my own insecurities. It always felt like the ground beneath me was shifting. I was shocked at the number of arguments and the resentment I felt towards him. Of course he would tell me at the time, that I blamed all the worlds wrongs on him...duh, of course I did!
But in retrospect, as my own insecurities mounted, so did the perceived hurts. Sometimes real hurts aren't even the point. Perceived ones can be just as painful. So while he nurtured his inner jerk, I gave mine a few pats on the back as well.

The year of steady midnights eventually ended and I cried the day he told me it was over. It was such a long year. John quickly returned to the wonderful guy I had spent all these years with. But we sure learned a lot about who we are in that year.

More then anything I think we realized that when we do have a disagreement over something, it is usually not at what is appearing directly in front of us. There is usually some underlying thing that we have not addressed in the past. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it is about the rice, but most times, it's not.

Living out 1 Cor: 13 was not easy that year and I don't know that I always did...I kept a record of wrongs and I was a bit boastful.

We are getting ready to kiss shift work good bye now. John will be working M-F/9-5...Order restored at last!


Anonymous said...

It's not about the rice is an aha moment in every marriage, sleep deprivation or not. Thanks for sharing!

Maryellen said...

I agree! I think we should have bumper stickers made, and mugs, and t-shirts! LOL!