There is a familiar scene that happens in some fast-paced workplaces. So familiar, in fact, the scene has been rendered anew in many contexts in innumerable films and TV shows. We all know it: A worker enters a bustling, loud workplace, and there awaiting her/him is their assistant/co-worker. Without so much as a “hello” or a “good morning,” the assistant/co-worker begins rattling off the duties of the day, the schedule therein, whilst walking quickly with them back to their office, so as to not waste any time to actually stop and have a face-to-face conversation. At the end of the scene, predictably, there is either someone waiting on the phone to talk to one of them, or someone is actually waiting in the office to speak. So, without a “goodbye” or “thank you for the information,” both workers dive right into work with a mind burdened with all the duties of the day without another glance at each other. End scene. Seem familiar? We’ve all seen this in the movies, right?
I was watching a movie the other day with one of these scenes in it, and I started to laugh awkwardly, because I recognized that type of interaction on a personal level. Perhaps, this scene is a little too familiar to me, just maybe in a different “workplace” context.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, a spouse returns home. It’s loud – obnoxiously so at times – and they see their spouse scurrying about busy in both mind and duty. With an ever-so-brief “hello,” and maybe even a passing kiss “hello,” one spouse begins to rattle off the happenings of the day, while walking with them into the house, so as to not waste any time (and oh, by the way, the children are waiting to play with you!). The other spouse accepts the charge to play, takes the children, and both spouses dive into the duties of the moment until they all reunite at the dinner table. At the dinner table, both try painstakingly to get the children adequately fed. Then one cleans the kitchen while the other begins the marathon act of bedtime prep for the little ones. At the end of the night, both fall into bed exhausted from the myriad of responsibilities and massive blessings that is child-raising. End scene.
Does “workplace” scenario sound familiar?
And if children aren’t in the picture yet, or perhaps they are already grown, replace that scene with other responsibilities or duties that tend to sneakily creep up and begin to quietly nudge marital zeal aside.
Last weekend, my husband and I went to a wedding. It was just the two of us, away from the children for exactly a 24-hour trip (by the way, my 25-year-old self is rolling her eyes at me for the fact that I’m calling 24 hours a “trip.” Also, my 25-year old self probably deserves a good slap of reality). We took a quick flight with one bag each, we got into the car without having to install any obnoxious car seats, and I — get ready for it — actually read a magazine. I kept looking around my person thinking, I’ve forgotten something. For certain, I’ve forgotten something. Who travels this light anymore?
At the wedding itself, the best man speech referenced the fact that during the young couple’s vows, so many “older” (I resented this label, but I’ve since found it in my heart to forgive him) couples could be seen grabbing each other’s hands, looking sweetly into each other’s eyes, and remembering their own vows they said so many years ago. That’s the magic of a wedding, he said. It reminds everyone of not only the importance and gravity of, but the insuppressible joy of marriage. I laughed during his speech, because it was so true. We were exhausted from the travel, exhausted from the prep just to get out of the house, but during the vows, the exhaustion evaporated as we realized, we were there together. That in and of itself was such a feat. We were doing something that had nothing to do with the children. We were on our own for 24 hours. We squeezed each other’s hand with a knowing look that said: Oh! There you are! By the way, those vows? I remember and still mean them.
Since we returned from our “trip,” we’ve been trying hard to not play the characters in a crazed, busied workplace scene out of a movie. Wedding season has reminded us, as well as our young daughter — who always seems to stop and smell the flowers — to stop and recognize each other amongst the chaos. Everyone keeps telling us these years with young children go by so fast. Enjoy them while they are young, enjoy them while you can, they say. And while I have taken fast to that advice, I think it’s also safe to say, perhaps it’s even better advice to say: Don’t forget or lose your spouse in the busy workplace in the meantime.