Playing Lead Guitar
Lucy was drawing at her desk in the playroom. Joy was sitting on the couch reading to Maddie. I had just come home from work and was munching a cookie in the kitchen and looking through some email. It struck me as a bit odd that Joy would be reading to Maddie, without Lucy. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but it was a sine wave trying to fit through the block wave gate in my mind. What was different?
We give the girls focused attention all the time, as much and as equally as we can. It's not like Joy does not read to/play with the girls. Quite the contrary. Super!Joy has done an outstanding job in that regard. It's her job during the day as much as mine is to pull Ethernet cable up elevator shafts and tweak database indexes. What was strange to me was that she seemed almost eager to get some one on one time with Maddie.
And then, Duh! Maddie is in school all day. Joy does not get to see her darling dear first born baby nearly as much as she used to. In fact, I realized, with her singing with the Camerata Monday evenings, and teaching on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I probably spend more time with Maddie than she does. Things clicked into place, and I understood Joy's need to sit down and spend some good, focused time with her.
It also rearranged my thinking in an instant. We have always shared both parental duties and authority as equally as possible. But I realized just then that I had always considered myself the rhythm guitarist of the Hess Family Parent Band. I had assumed at some basic level that the girls would follow her lead, as they spent the most time with her, and I would provide the solid, necessary set of background strumming. So for the last three months, I've been playing rhythm, when I should have been playing lead. Both roles are necessary and important. One without the other doesn't sound right. But they require slightly different skill sets, and a different approach.
Mostly, though, I felt sad for Joy, who saw her time spent with Maddie cut almost in half over the last two years. I know I would have a tough time with it if the same thing happened to me. On the bright side, it'll only get worse for both of us as the kids get older!