Monday, February 4, 2013

Security is my business (until next Monday)

This week at work it is my turn to perform the nightly security checks of our office space at the close of business each day. For reasons of national security I will skip the details of what exactly that entails, but from a personal perspective it means that instead of departing the Big Gray at 3:30 or so to catch a 3:57 train back home, I have to stay until at least 4:30 every evening (the earliest time the check rounds can begin) and hit the bricks closer to 5:00 to grab the 5:17. It’s a little annoying for me, as I am nothing if not a creature of habit and I dislike extensive disruptions of my routine, and more than a little inconvenient on the home front because for five nights in a row I am not going to walk in the door of my house until about 6:30.

The ideal end-of-the-kids’-day schedule at our house entails starting to cook dinner sometime in the 5 o’clock hour, putting said dinner on the table at 6:00, giving the kids plenty of time to eat (whether it’s a token number of reluctant bites or gobbling down second or third helpings of growth-spurt fuel) plus some more time to play after they get down from the table, and then starting to head upstairs around quarter to 7, so the little girl can get her bath and be in bed by 7:30 at the latest. The little guy gets his bath after his sister, and he’s supposed to be in bed by 8:00. The point being, for five consecutive nights I am going to completely miss the dinner-cooking-and-eating window, and one of two things is going to happen: either my lovely wife will have to cook dinner by herself without backup in the crucial role of keeping the kids happily entertained and out of mortal peril, and similarly shorthandedly get both kids to sit and eat (have I mentioned that lately the little girl has been going through a phase where some nights she throws herself on the floor in a screaming tantrum if she isn’t allowed to sit on one of her parents’ laps while she eats?) OR the entire schedule is simply going to be pushed back with dinner prep only getting started when I return home. None of which is the end of the world, really (with the possible exception of Option B coming into play this Thursday, which would mean one or both kids not getting fully settled into bed until after 8 p.m., which means my wife and I would miss the long-delayed return of Community since we still don’t have a DVR, and not gonna lie, we’d both be a little crushed about that I reckon) but as I said, there’s an inconvenience factor.

It could be worse! There was a time, which seems like ancient history but really wasn’t all that long ago, when my wife was working multiple shifts per week that stretched late into the evening, well past not just dinnertime but often past the kids’ bedtimes. If she were still on that schedule, then the slight aggravations of timing this week would be overshadowed by the guilt of having to leave our kids at an increasingly depopulated daycare center until I could pick them up for five straight nights. But these days, thankfully, my wife only ever works until mid-afternoon or so, and the kids can be retrieved from daycare well before inescapable feelings of abandonment enter the picture.

(You may wonder, given that I used to get the kids home, cook them dinner and feed it to them, and bathe them and get them into bed on schedule before my wife got home, why my wife can’t pull off the first half of the same feat. I’m sure she could pull off the whole thing, if it came to that, but bear in mind that 1. The kids were measurably smaller then, especially the little girl, who was also commensurately more docile, and 2. I was never nearly 8 months pregnant when I was solo-tasked with keeping things on schedule.)

I don’t believe I’ve actually reported on my wife’s evolving work situation much lately, no doubt due in part to the fact that it has been in flux and somewhat hard to pin down. But things are settling down, in a positive way for the most part. For quite a while my wife has known that her last day teaching aspiring vet techs would be February 15th, so that date is one we are both looking forward to with an expectation of relief. I’m glad she took that teaching job, if for no reason other than it gave her some experience in and first-hand insight into a potential career path that she may very well find herself on again in the future, but it was problematic at best and neither of us will be overly sorry to see that chapter close. The second job my wife had picked up doing vet work for a nearby animal shelter is also winding down, perhaps accelerated by certain unpleasant elements but in truth never intended to be a permanent arrangement anyway. We still find ourselves unable to circumvent the need to be a dual-income family, so my wife has braved the job market and found a new employer (yet again! She switched jobs right before the little guy was born, interviewing in a very similarly gravid state as during this most recent round!) and that new job is ramping up to begin soon. But, as I mentioned, the new job hasn’t really started yet, while the soon-to-be old jobs are either holding steady or being cut back, so my lack of availability for afternoon daycare runs is not so traumatic.

Not to mention the fact that it seems better that I get the security detail over with here and now, knowing that my next turn won’t come around for 13 or 14 months, rather than have it fall to me some time in early-to-mid March when my wife might go into labor at the drop of a hat.

And as my wife very wisely pointed out, staying late at the office every evening gives me the leeway to sleep in a little and come in later than normal as well and yet still clock my requisite number of contract hours for the pay period. I was exceptionally grateful for that wiggle room this morning, as I would take as many z’s as I could get after SuperBowl-ing it up last night. The party we attended was fun, and I will be circling back around to that topic throughout the week I’m sure! But, having duly informed everyone that my job remains more or less constant while my wife’s overall employment picture is shifting into a better and brighter configuration, I will quit while I’m ahead for now.

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