Tuesday, September 25, 2012


That elusive, slippery, hard to figure out thing called “balance”.

Who the hell has that figured out anyway?  It applies to so many things that it makes my head spin.

How much do I cook at home vs. order out?  How much do I work out vs. sitting on my ass?  How much do I save vs. how much I save?  How much this vs. that and who says what amount is right or wrong?

I know it’s an internal decision.  Everyone’s view of “balance” is different. 

For me, I mostly determine balance on regret.  Like will I regret buying a pair of boots that cost a fortune and wish I had that money back when I’m 90 and I’m out of Depends adult diapers?  Probably not.  I’ll still have the boots when I’m 90 and if I have to I can just pee in those since my knees probably won’t work anymore and I can’t use the boots for walking in.

Will I regret missing one of my daughter’s events because I’ve decided to run on the treadmill for 16 hours straight just to see if I can get in my skinny jeans from last year?    Probably.  So I’ll maybe do an hour and buy bigger jeans.  That’s MY kind of balance.

My latest balance struggle is work.  Specifically Rambo’s extra work.  I’m having a hard time with it and frankly, I’m surprised about my feelings about it.

I know this gig.  I used to live this life.  The life of a wife whose husband works during the harvest. Waaaayyyy back when Rambo and I got married on a Saturday in June…he left that following Monday and I didn’t see him for 3 months.  I was basically single for a few years and it nearly was the end of us.

We aren’t good apart.  It just doesn’t work for us.  That’s when the decision was made to come in off the road and work at the prison.  For just a year now, Rambo has been back driving semi on his days off from the prison.  There’s a lot of guilt associated in my over-analyzing head when I think about Rambo not having one single day off for 6 weeks at a time.

I wonder if we’ll regret deciding he should work so much.  I wonder if he’ll burn out.  I wonder if the “balance” is wrong with all work and no play.

I rationalize with the whole “we do what we have to in this economy”.  I justify it with “well, he might have 4 jobs, but I have 3.  I’m not slacking off.”  I know in my heart to Rambo it’s not work.  He is passionate about this job and would probably do it for free.  I know he carries a lot of pride in providing for his family well.

I wonder if the kids understand…though I remember having a father who worked too much all for me and understanding what that meant.

But now – it’s harvest time.  Rambo is no longer only working in the semi on his days off from the prison. He is up at 4am and to the prison for an 8 hour shift and then straight to the semi.  He doesn’t even come home.  He doesn’t eat a single meal in his home in a day.  He sees his children in their beds asleep when he finally gets home about 10pm.  He holds me in the dark as he gets a few hours sleep and gets back up at 4am to do it again.

It’s temporary.  It’s harvest.  This balls to the wall won’t last forever.  It is necessary. 

The prison is full of politics and some of the worst men in the state.  It’s dreary and depressing and tough and not an easy place to go to.  The semi is a refuge for Rambo.  While it’s manual labor, it is laid back and fun and there is a camaraderie to it that can’t be replaced.  Knowing he’s going into the semi, makes his day at the prison easier.

THAT is a good “balance”.

But we miss him.  Badly.  His physical presence can’t be replaced with emails and phone calls.  The girls constantly ask for him.  I miss his arms and his face.  His laugh.

And harvest just began.  Is it worth it?  Will we regret this?  Is this the balance being off?

Is it what you do in times when gas if $4.00 a gallon and groceries have doubled in cost?  Is it a life lesson to teach our kids what working hard is about?  Is it teaching them that sometimes life sucks and we miss people – but we have to do what we have to do?

I seriously don’t know. 

I do know that Rambo being gone this much is suddenly new and different and it takes time to adjust.  It takes time for things to “balance” out.  New routines.  New attitudes.

Part of me is proud to know this is my time to step up for Rambo.  While he’s working 20 hour days – it’s time for me to make sure he knows – that I’ve got everything at home covered.

From baths to lunches and homework and discipline and housework and phone calls and even some stuff from his other jobs.  I’ll do it all.  And carry pride that I have the ability mentally and physically to do that for him. 

That’s good for my girls to see too.  Some day they may marry men who aren’t home every night or can’t be around to do as much as Rambo usually does. 

I think balance will always be elusive for me.  Maybe it’s supposed to be.

Until I find it, I’ll just keep doing the best that I can….and keep on looking for it.


Jennifer Kay said...

Sad post but I feel this way all the time too! Jon works a second job but he's home for a few hours in the evening at least. I'm going ot school so hopefully I can be promoted in the next few years but I try to do all my homework after the kids are in bed...balancing everything so we look like SOMEWHAT of a normal family in the kids eyes.

I wish we could all just work doing something we love instead of what pays the bills. *sigh*

jennxaz said...

I get it...and I think you know what you want. My hubby took a job that was far from home last year(almost 2 hour commute) I hated it. He was gone from 7 in the morning until 7 at night..sometimes later. I was lonely without him. I suffered through it a year and then he got a new job where he worked from home. I guess I knew we needed to do it for the money but I didn't like it one bit and as soon as he got this new job I was much happier. But you do what you got to do sometimes and I guess you realize that it won't always be like that

Beth said...

Wow I am exhausted just reading about all that you and Rambo do!

Tina @ The Bandit Girl said...

You are one strong cookie! I like your perspective and ability to see that this is not a permanent situation.

FitBy40 said...

My hubby only has one job and it drives my oldest daughter crazy when he leaves every day! I swear she'd rather him be a stay at home dad and have me go to work every day so she wouldn't have to miss him. I don't know how I'd do it if he worked another job too.
I don't know how you hold it all together! I'm glad it's temporary. You are both some seriously hard working people!

LDswims said...

Balance is always hard. And the answer today might not be the answer tomorrow. I could not work as hard as you and Rambo do and I think it's because I lost my parents so young in my life. My dad put a lot of things off for when he retired and worked like crazy while alive. My mom did the same although she did have a better balance between work and family. Neither of them got to live that retirement they'd dreamed of. I am much better than my parents about living in the now because of that. We might not have as much money floating around these days because of this economy that is on the rebound - or so they say (HAAHA). But my priorities will always be my family and my friends over things. I have a whole house full of things but the markers of my amazing life are in my husband and my sons.

Of course, I say all this - then have to add to it that we have an hour and a half commute each way every day. That's 3 hours away from the boys that doesn't have to be that way. Luckily, Husby and I get to make that commute together. But there are 3 hours every day of the week that the daycare gets my boys and I hate that with a passion. We are likely to be moving in the near future to remedy that, too. That time away from them does not suit my priorities.

And I also will say, I am proud of you. You and Rambo do what you have to to sustain the life you want. Too many people just turn to credit and figure they can pay it off tomorrow. Problem is, credit just runs away when that attitude is adopted.