Wednesday, November 12, 2014

There and Back Again: A Husband's Tale

Two weeks and two days into his new job, I called Justin to ugly cry at him. "I feel like a single mother!" I wept and I was angry. I was angry because it had been two weeks and two days of him leaving before the rest of us were awake, and two weeks and two days since we'd seen him home before 7 or 8 p.m.. Also, two weeks and two days of him passing out on the couch the moment the kids were in bed. It's not that I can't take two weeks of that, it's that I felt hopelessly like this is our life now, forever.

He talked to his new boss, who was apparently all concerned and understanding, and they decided together that Justin's days had to be planned around this: he must be home to his family by 5 p.m. They were supposed to be 50 hour work weeks, not 70 hours. Even then, 50 hour work weeks felt like a gargantuan new weight after spending the last five years at LU, working only 34-40 hour weeks. It turns out, his new job paid more steadily (no more commission variables), but less per hour.

I've never been the at-it-alone type of mom. I could never be a military wife, and I didn't sign up for that. Justin is my best friend. He doesn't hang out with the guys and I don't go out with the girls. I schedule the baby's doctor appointments on his days off, and yes, we all pile into the small exam room, all five of us. We don't do the smart thing most couples do and send one off to the store while the other stays home with the kids. No, all five of us go on most major shopping trips together. It's harder, but we like being together. Call us codependent if you want, all I know is: it works for us.

This is partly why his new job was putting such a strain on things at home. He was never here, and when he was here, "I don't like the person I am around the kids anymore." One of Sander's biggest fears: being a disconnected workaholic father.

He was losing weight, I was gaining weight. He was despondent every Sunday evening, realizing he had to go back to that job again the next morning. At the crack of dawn. I was sleep deprived, because I am an easily-spooked worryer and so when he left every morning at 6ish, I never really went back to sleep until the kids woke up. No, I was laying in bed, totally aware of the murdered trying to break in. {It was usually the dog getting into the trash or something.} Also, can I just say that I've never been one to get pimples--like, ever--but the last 5 months my face has been peppered with stress acne?

You thought the last two posts were complaint ridden, didn't you?!

I'm not trying to be a complainer, because the truth is he had a job whereas so many people in this world don't. However, what we thought would just be a rough adjustment getting used to earlier mornings and longer work weeks {but worth it for more regular pay!} turned out to be the period of life which I will henceforth refer to as: The Tribulation.

Things got better for me at home, with the promise met that he'd be home by 5:30 every night. They didn't get much better for him though. Sander did his job well and he learned a great deal. He had to write up an employee his second week, he helped hired two great new employees, and he felt like he got a "crash course in management".

Without roasting a company online, I'll just say this: it was chaos. It was an a small company that worked well as a small company, but had recently become a large company {workload wise} and a lot of the chaos trickled down the pipes right to Justin's position, which is why he got about a million phone calls a day and was always off fixing everyone's problems instead of managing from the office like he'd planned to do from the start. Whew. Got that?

Then there was the culture difference. For all the hard work, the rewards were few. He went from a company full of passionate audiophiles and professionals to a company that struggled to keep up with model home business. There is little passion for audio when it comes to Mr. and Mrs. Joneses picking out their security system and speakers for their tract home. I'm not trying to be a snob, I'm just saying that LU was ripe with exciting clients who had money to spend and invited creativity, people who shop at places like that are fun to work with. The culture of LU had been so great.

Then CEDIA came. {The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association convention.} Justin used to go with LU, now he was going with his new company. It also meant that morning that he didn't have to leave the house so early.

Oh the sweet joy! My husband, the easy and early riser, woke up with the kids and made them breakfast and got them dressed. Meanwhile I, the night owl and morning zombie, #whathappenedtoournewpetdragon #ithinkyoujustdreamedthathoney, slept in some, woke up {a process that takes the night-owl-morning-zombie at least an hour}, put my face on and did my hair. I was feeling quite selfish, and realized I'd always been selfish to take my husband for granted in the mornings.

"I've missed this," I confessed. Thinking he was probably going to say, "I bet you did." Instead he surprised me, "So have I."

"Really?" Because being a zombie in the morning and having to face three energetic children is like, my living nightmare. I forget, yet again, my husband is not like me.

"Yes, I've missed seeing and being with the kids in the morning. I miss having this time."

I could have burst into tears. See?! We ALL miss it! Even the kids, I could tell. They are miserable being alone with me in the morning. LU had always afforded us that: time together in the morning, and a more prepared, sane mommy to deal with throughout the rest of the day.

Justin got home from CEDIA and I was confused to see him so depressed. I thought a day away from the usual chaos at the office the four corners of Colorado would do his spirits some good. But no, CEDIA had only offered him a glimpse of the culture and professionalism he left behind to chase a what-if.

Look, up until that evening I'd been trying to be the supportive wife and kept saying cliché things like, "It will get better! Remember every job is an adjustment. Think of the dependable paychecks!" That evening, I finally said it, "Do you want to go back to LU?"

He didn't skip a beat, "Yes."

"Have they hired anyone to replace you yet?" I asked.

"I heard they just recently started looking."

"Contact them." I said. "Now."

Call me bossy, but it's a good thing I urged him not to wait a second, because they'd already started interviewing and had someone in mind. Talk about last minute.

While Justin had heard here and there through the grapevine when he'd left that the door would be left open for him, the reality is that the grapevine can't always be trusted {remember that game Telephone?} and you can't always just expect to waltz back into a company you left and be offered your job back.

My mind tried to make me regret Justin ever leaving LU, but my heart knew that wasn't an option. Did he want his job back? YES. Did I want his job back? YES. Was it a mistake to ever leave in the first place?

No. I don't believe it was. This was a journey of learning, friends. The other man's grass is greener, true, but not really. During the last 5 months, I've seen real changes in my husband. He wasn't late a single day, he was uber responsible and turned out to be a really good manager for his first try. It was as if he had something to prove, now that someone had entrusted him with all that management responsibility.

I also learned a great deal. I learned that when my car is available 24/7, thanks to his company car, that I leave the house less and spend less money. Just because it was always there...I didn't "need" it as much. We both learned together that the up and downs with the paydays had been crazy, but God had always provided for us. While month-to-month could be crazy, when it came time to file taxes we'd see his W-2 proved we'd be alright. The challenge, the steady pay, the company car...none of it was really worth leaving a company where we were happy.

Now, they were set to hire someone else and we both desperately wanted back. I remember the day he went in to announce his departure, I had knots in my stomach because I knew it just wasn't right--leaving a company that had been so good to us. Still, we regret nothing, because if he hadn't taken this journey off-road, we'd never have known and would have always wondered.

Justin spoke with his old manager at LU, and really put him in a predicament because it sounded like he'd made up his mind as to who Justin's replacement would be. It took almost two weeks to hear anything. A very tense two weeks, though again through the grapevine it sounded like his co-workers would welcome him back, especially his ability to fix the Control4 system.

I wrote this post weeks ago and am just now updating because we've just been so busy! Long story short, Justin went back to his old position at LU {I've withheld the full name of the business just because I don't want someone Googling home theatres in Denver to end up at this silly post}. We're SO HAPPY that he's back! Even the first couple days back, it was just like being home again, for all of us. The old routine, the one that worked so well for us, and all that stress just...gone. They even gave him his earned vacation hours back and decided to treat his brief departure as a sabbatical. See why I've always said it is such a great company?

We don't regret The Tribulation because it makes us even more grateful and appreciative of what we do have with LU. In hindsight, it's actually just all been one big blessing in disguise.

2 comments:

  1. So glad to hear that Justin was able to return to his previous job. I understand how you and your family do things and my husband and I are similar. We go to the grocery store together, take the girls to doctor appointments together - we are best friends and enjoy being together. Glad it all worked out. Justin seems like an awesome guy who only deserves the best!

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