Lately our table has been the scene of some important conversations. Big Man has an extra-large sheet of graph paper with states and job openings listed. He has a complex list in progress of places he has contacted and places he wants to contact. He has schedules for phone interviews and face-to-face interviews. Next to all that, he has tiers of planning. The first tier involves things we would most like to have happen. When those are exhausted, there is a second tier of options to consider, and finally, there is the "I-guess-it-has-come-to-this" list.
We have involved the Things as needed and their responses are typical.
"No! I don't want to move!" and "Does this mean we can't get a cat?"
Every hour I feel differently and I feel like this job search could swallow me whole. A few good friends have born the brunt of my frustrations and that release has been critical to my sanity. But I am aware of that in the end, how I get through this is really up to me and Big Man.
What has been new in this latest bump in our road is his response to my crying. I cry when I am frustrated or feel moved or angry and through the years, I know he has felt at a loss when I cry. He admits to being mystified when certain situations provoke tears despite my attempts at explaining that tears are just a part of who I am.They aren't a siren's call to him to fix whatever the IT may be. I used to stuff my tears because he took them so personally. It was hard for him to watch me cry without wanting to solve or eradicate the root cause of my tears. But it seems he has learned, finally, that tears are a release for me. And I have learned that his absence of tears is no less an indicator of his feelings. We are just different. We bear things differently, we interpret situations through our own unique lens, and the best thing we can do for each other is to simply allow for our differences.
If I can say there is a best part to this whole experience, it is that we are in it as we are. We aren't lying and hiding and stuffing and tip-toeing around our individual truths. We are being honest even when it feels hard to do so.
And I guess my biggest hope is that our kids see this, no matter where we land. I hope they see that while love sometimes requires a bit of rearranging, it doesn't require changing who you are. Real love will rise to any occasion because when you show up as you are, so does love.
While we continue to shuffle through our daily life, we are working hard to not let that large sheet of graph paper dominate our dining room. We have worked too hard at creating a space within our marriage and at the table for the things that matter most, and I intend to keep it that way.