... for the Mighty Brady has struck out.
I'll say no more about that.
A moment of silence, please.
Aside from the heartbreak of the weekend, I've noticed some things about myself that really need changing.
I know the children have cabin fever. My wife is a sedentary lump, as am I. We do not allow the kids to play outside, and while it's really cold now and not practical for them to play outside, it's also not always been that way. Because we are sedentary, we don't go outside and let them burn off their excess energy. Because we have no health insurance, we have to take precautions that other families probably don't think about -- since the kids don't have their shots, having them exposed to a lot of other kids probably isn't a good idea. Kids that carry normal childhood diseases and can expose ours to them aren't a welcome prospect; at least, not right now. So, the children suffer. That's not right, and it's not fair. That needs to change.
I'm also not normal in a several other areas; in fact, I'm alarmingly like my genetic donors in more ways than I want to admit. I'm "too tired" to play with the kids in the way they want to be played with most of the time. I don't know if I'm actually too tired or if I just lack the energy to break inertia. In either case, the children -- who didn't have the option of requesting younger, more active parents -- again get the worst of it. I'm too engrossed in my "activities" to set aside time for them, to be dedicated and commited to spending quality time with them. There is always something else that needs to be done, or something else I would rather do. That scenario ends in tragedy in not very many years.
I don't mean to imply that we just ignore them; we don't. We are doting, caring parents who love our children very much. But there are many circumstances surrouding us that we are trying desperately to address, that just don't seem to bear themselves out and go away. In the wheels of those circumstances the children often get caught, and I feel that it's time for me to address those things, at least in some measure. I just don't have an answer as to how to rectify the situations; at least, not at this time.
The unfortunate thing is, I can't do it by myself. What I can do, I'm not doing, and that's squarely on my shoulders. But I'm gone for work 5 days a week, no less than 10-1/2 to 12 hours a day, depending on traffic, and during those hours the burden of caring for the children, the house and all the other things that I don't "get around to" fall directly into the lap of my wife. While I would rather see her letting the kids play outside -- or her playing WITH them -- than cleaning the kitchen, I don't have the full understanding of what it takes to run the household, and I can't impress (or rather, impose) any priority on her. She knows what to do, and she does it well, but it usually means the kids have been inside all day and are rambunctious and loud. They didn't play outside much, if at all, in the summer (because it was too hot for me and my wife to be out there with them), neither in the spring (because it was too muddy outside for them to play), nor in the autumn (because of a myriad of reasons that included us packing to move). Now, in the winter, it's too cold for them to play outside much, and it's much too cold for us to just sit out there and watch them.
Not having a safe place to play makes it hard, too. We live facing into a parking lot. People don't regard parking lots as anything but a place for them to gather speed and get out of their living quarters on their way to somewhere else, and so having an 18-month old baby running about where it's possible (and likely) that she'll run into the parking lot isn't a great idea. The fact that they can't just run around out there is my fault; I once had a house but was not able to keep the house. So now, my children can't go play in the yard, they have to play in the small, grassy area just outside our apartment, which is abutted by the parking lot and affords them no space to legitimately play.
There's more to it than that, but that's part of it. Another part of it is that my wife spends her days divided among activities that require her to be in the house all day while I'm at work all day. She cleans, does laundry, changes diapers, makes chocolate milk, and alternates the other household chores with reading the newspaper (online), playing video games and checking her email. When she's not doing one of those things she's responding to my text messages or answering my phone calls. In addition to that, she does what she can to get the kids fed (easier said than done), attempt to address her personal hygiene and grooming, and make the family evening meal. She makes the beds, gathers the garbage (and sometimes carries it out too), vacuums the house ... whatever the demand seems to be at the moment. She's also the one that takes care of the little things that have to be done during the day, which I can't do when I'm at work -- you know, get mail sent off, packages returned, drop the rent check off at the office, pay the bills, balance the checkbook, order the groceries, schedule deliveries -- you name it, she's doing it. She has an obnoxious and unachievable "to do" list, which she never gets completely through, and somehow, someway, in all of that, she's also trying to become a small business owner. To say her plate is full would be an understatement, and all of the things she does are indoor activities. Oh, except going to the office; those are times when she has to dress herself, dress the baby, nag my son into getting ready with clothing warm enough for the weather conditions, gather up whatever she needs to take with her, and clamber across the street with the entire crew to go to the office, some 200 feet away. It takes her longer to PREPARE to do that than it does to deliver the errand. It's a nightmare. I don't know if it's possible for one person.
Meanwhile, I sit at work; and while I don't do NOTHING while I'm at work, I'm not ABLE to do anything to contribute to the household. On the weekends, we set aside the time as "our" time, meaning that we let the chores and the errands -- as much as possible -- go unattended. But then, there's the lack of energy factor again, and once more the children simply sit inside, playing with their toys and being told to quiet down and be calm.
Well, maybe the B-vitamin supplements my wife got over the weekend will help. Maybe we can generate a bit of energy and have enough stamina to leave the TV off (hey, the Patriots are through for the year, and the Super Bowl is a big "who cares?" for me at this point anyway), take the kids outside, and just let them play. We don't have to run around with them; we just have to let them play. And maybe the "us" time we claim to have over the weekend will really happen. Maybe instead of her glued to the Sims, and me glued to the boob tube, we'll actually be together. Maybe we can salvage this thing after all. Maybe we can manage to be a family unit, and have the wherewithall to spend loving, quality time together. It's never too late until it's too late; but if we're not careful, it will be too late soon.
Oh, and did I mention that I've invested in some training recently, so that I can try and get my career to move ahead and get beyond the salary barrier I've been at for about 4 years? No? Well I have; and I need to make time to work through that training or I would have been better off donating the money to a charity. At least they would use it. So that's another thing that has to "get done."
I promised my wife some classes for her business too. I haven't delivered, and she's been very patient about this; she won't be much longer. This is something she wants to do for her, and I don't think she's going to be willing to put herself aside much longer. I also don't feel she should have to put herself aside any longer. She's been doing that for decades; it's her turn. I need to find a way to make that happen soon. Very soon.
I need to lose weight, too. A LOT of weight. And I need to quit smoking so that I can live long enough to take care of these things. Yeah, right.
Just some thoughts. Nothing cataclysmic, or earth-shaking, but things that I've been noodling about for a few hours now. And for me, that's a very, very long time.
Pray for us, and we'll pray for you. If you don't pray, then we'll pray for you anyway. :)