I am in Aspen working, having left Richard and the children back in New York. Emma’s ears continue to hurt her. Richard had to take her to an ear specialist yesterday afternoon. The last few times I’ve called I could hear Emma in the background crying plaintively, “I need help! Ears popping!”.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a father leaving his wife and children behind for work, but I can tell you as a Mom, it feels pretty awful. I feel terrible that Richard is left coping with the myriad details required, the organizing of both children, dealing with one who doesn’t feel great, getting referrals to doctors, arranging appointments, ensuring Nic is taken care of, juggling IEP meetings, seeing Emma’s neurologist, rearranging his own work schedule to accommodate all of the above.
And meanwhile here I am in Aspen. Even when you tell someone you’re there to WORK, you can see the little smile on their face, “Uh-huh,” they usually respond. “It’s gotta be tough.”
So no, one cannot expect much sympathy, and if I go on about how tired I am, I can expect little other than a slight nod of the head followed by the slightly sarcastic, “Yeah, I bet.” Sometimes they’ll even add a barely audible, “Ski much?”
Despite the fact I have no intention of skiing, am working everyday most people find any utterance even remotely sounding like a complaint, tiresome. Which makes Richard’s response all the more remarkable.
“Of course you must go,” was his reply when I told him about some of my commitments here. There was no need for discussion. It was a given, I would go, Richard and the children will join me in another five days. I am grateful to him for that.
When I call then and hear Emma’s little voice whimpering and Richard’s exhausted voice telling me, “Everything’s fine,” I know he’s putting on a brave front. I know how exhausting it is to hold down the fort in the other’s absence. I know he’s worried about Emma, as am I. The difference is he’s the one who is making and keeping the appointments with all the various doctors, not me. And no matter how hard I am working, no matter how many hours I put in, it doesn’t compare to what Richard is doing back in New York. As I write this I can look out my window and gaze upon the Rocky Mountains jutting up, the blue sky contrasted against their snowy peaks. My concerns for Emma are muted by physical miles, I cannot hear her distress except when I call. I am not in the trenches with Richard.
I am lucky, very, very lucky.