When did I become a needy housewife?
I used to rub elbows on my train commute with the folks that over-leveraged credit default swaps and brought the housing market to its knees. I inspired teams of 50 people to work without breaks to meet impossible deadlines, often making them cry or quit in the process. I made rapid-fire decisions affecting accounts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I once fired 25 people in one day…
While at my wits end recently, staring down the heaps of kids’ junk violating the sanctity of a house once orderly earlier in the week, dishes piled high in the sink, having rummaged in vain through bags of clothes in closets, drawers, and laundry piles for football pants for my son’s dress-up-like-a-famous-person day at school, my hands now slathered in grease after an unsuccessful attempt at disassembling and reassembling a pair of bicycle pedals and cranks, and the children still not quite done getting ready for bed despite numerous threats of dispensing with tuck-ins…the phone rang. Although, it wasn’t exactly a phone ringing. It was more like a text beeping. But to my ear, “the phone rang” sounds much more literary than “the text beeped,” so to continue painting this dire picture, as my hands were slathered with bicycle grease and my wife had just texted me to come retrieve her from the train station after a late-night class, and my mood borderline pissy, I scrambled to excise the grease from my hands without tearing off my skin from all of the hard scrubbing and settled on getting off just enough so as not to leave a trail of black fingerprints in my wake as I grabbed the car keys and stumbled into the freezing cold. My mood now pissier.
My wife can always tell when something’s bothering me. However, I have not yet mastered the art of telling her when something is bothering me, nor have I mastered the art of telling her what is bothering me, so I grunted at her, and she set about finding and solving whatever issue(s) lay behind my grunts. “Everything OK?” she asked. “No, I’m frustrated.” “How come?” “House is a mess, tired,…” I didn’t feel like elaborating. “Well, the housekeeper’s coming tomorrow, you can go to bed right away and sleep in tomorrow.” I felt myself closing up, not wanting her to solve all of my problems, but rather hold me, and tell me “There, there. It’s OK. I understand.” But, instead, like I used to be when I managed a busy work day and solved peoples’ problems, she became the problem solver, quick to find solutions to all that ails me, I will help you out of this funk kind of stuff. The opposite of what I needed in that moment. Just a “Yeah, that sucks.” would have sufficed and made me feel better. No solutions. Just acknowledgement of suckitude.
I used to be the problem-solver. The guy that helped other people through their difficult issues, quickly, efficiently, no fuss, no muss, let’s solve this and move on. Now, I wear an apron and pass out fruit snacks to kids on the way to Hebrew school.