I have a pet peeve. It's when Howie calls me on his way home...at 5:15 in the afternoon. You know, the same 5:15 in the afternoon when children scream for no apparent reason. The same 5:15 when they seem to morph into half-human, half-demon. The same 5:15 that they can't help from throwing themselves down the stairs or getting a Zhu Zhu pet stuck in their hair. The same 5:15 when they swarm around me while I'm trying to cook dinner and keep things off of my counters.
I've asked him not to do it. I've asked him many times. "I love you. I really want to talk to you but that is a really bad time for me." Still, he calls and starts telling me about the mundane details of his day, computer systems and meeting minutes. I care. I really do, it's just hard to concentrate when I have three children gnawing on my ankle bones.
I've tried to be patient. I've tried to be understanding. I've even tried not answering the phone. But then he will leave sobby messages on the answering machine and begin an endless stream of text messages that say things like, "WHERE ARE YOU, ARE YOU OKAY, WHAT'S WRONG, WHY AREN'T YOU ANSWERING THE PHONE. IF YOU DON'T ANSWER IN THE NEXT 30 SECONDS I'M CALLING 911!!!!" That's when I pick up the phone and reassure him that all is well and that I'm just really, really busy and can't talk. "Oh, okay...so let me tell you about about that EQC and SSX systems that failed today." And that's when I take a dinner fork and ask one of the kids to kick it through my forehead.
This happened again a couple of nights ago. He called. I didn't answer. Then the text messages started and I can't scientifically prove this but I swear that anytime I respond to his calls or texts, things start to fall apart in the house. Like one minute things are chaotic but under control. The next thing I know, I answer the phone and the whole house erupts into WWIII. "I have to go", I said. Finally, I got everything calmed down for a moment, called him back and said this:
"Consider yourself served. I am officially giving you notice that you are under no circumstances allowed to call me between the hours of 4 and 6 pm unless:
A) You are laying on the side of the road with some of your intestines spilled on the highway.
B) Someone held you up at gun point and stole your truck, clothes, cell phone and lunch box and you got arrested for indecent exposure and you're standing in a jail cell, using your only phone call while you're getting ogled by fellow prisoners.
C) You've been abducted by aliens and you won't be home for dinner because they are probing your deep, cavernous, private places.
If A, B or C have not happened, please do not call me. If you need me to know something important, feel free to text but do not expect a response. This in no way reflects my deep love and affection for you. Please note that I will need a confirmation in writing stating that you are of sound mind and body and do hereby agree to the terms above. Failure to comply with these rules will result in my calling you everyday at work at the most inconvenient time and demanding that you talk to me for at least half an hour about "my feelings" or about what I think will happen next on "Days Of Our Lives." Better yet, I'll call you and then hand the phone over to Bear who will proceed to give you a 2 hour monologue about princesses."
He's been officially warned. Last night he didn't call me. He texted me to let me know he was picking Birdie up from dance class and I sent him a very small response. Here's the thing: I missed talking to him. I couldn't possibly talk to him at that time, there is just too much going on at 5:15 but I do miss talking to him. Such is the battle of time with busy parents. We are thirsty for time together, quality time where we can talk like real adults and interact in playful ways that cement our love. But we end up only getting sips of each other here and there.We have to squeeze out every ounce of time and it never seems to quench that thirst. I know it'll get better and I know that I get crazy when everyone demands my attention. Then I get all stressed out and it all seems impossible. But part of me wants to tell him to scratch the whole thing and call me anyway. Just because I need to hear his voice.