Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Watching my words...

As usual, I start serious...

Couple of nights ago, I was writing a letter to our soldier penpal. At present, he is in Afghanistan, under fire at virtually every moment. As communication is entirely one-sided right now (us to him), I'm struggling to find the right words for him.

I've always chatted away to him about the goings on in our life--especially everything G is doing. And I've usually been able to include responses to items in his letters--thoughts on politics in particular (we essentially picked each other because we share a political science background). But now, neither of these feels appropriate.

The bit I wrote about balancing work and home life feels...wrong. He works 24/7 in unimaginable conditions and hasn't been home in months.

The spring fever rant I included felt off too. He'd no doubt want the snow I'm wishing away and probably longs to experience seasons again.

I know that I should just stuff it in the envelope and send it. Then sit right down and write the next one. It's letters from home he wants. Period.

Same dilemna applies in conversation with almost anyone today. We are remarkably blessed in that both my husband and I are working. Full-time and with some measure of job security. And although we're like so many--with little to no retirement secured--we've also virtually no debt. While this economic crisis is scary, for us, it's a little less scary than it could be. So we're ok.

But...as you all know, I continue to struggle with our "ok." Because it means less time for hands-on parenting. No matter how much we try to make of our time with G now, the void remains. I miss him terribly. And not only do I fear that that ache will never ease, I'm gearing myself up--again--for the guilt I'll carry every day that he spends in daycare this summer. At least now he spends the bulk of the day in school. Once school lets out, we'll both be back to wanting to spend the day with each other. And it will suck. Because we can't.

A difficult challenge for me, but one that pales next to potential homelessness. Know what I mean? Aside from this venue (thank you), I almost always swallow the words--believing they are highly inappropriate or insensitive given the times.

Move to humor....

Of course there are the other odds and funny ends. Like this past weekend, when I was introduced to a man I'd met before--back when he was married to a co-worker of mine, years ago. Errr, before she got herself a boyfriend and left the husband for him. So do I smile, say hello and nice to meet you? Then shut up? Oh no. My mouth continues as I happily tell him that I remember him because I used to work with his wife. Banging head.

Or when I really, really want to grab a few minutes with my book--while DH and the boy watch TV. But then I accidentally flip the TV to the evening national news or some news hour. Nothing torques my DH up like politics and the economy. He spends a lot of time on the road and listens to a great deal of talk radio (as poisonous as any other source of commentary, IMO). Just when I want to read, I end up triggering a conversation that includes Rush Limbaugh. Banging head.

And on to petty...

On the opposite side of the fence--the side where I look agape at folks when they're doing the talking--I can't tell you how many times I'm engaged in conversation (lately) about money or health. One friend confided that her husband's company is near closing. Around a mouthful of take-out lunch, she told me she fears he will come home any day without a job. I care about her, but honestly, all I could process in that conversation was the fact that take-out lunch goes for anywhere between 5 and 10 bucks these days. I replied appropriately, but felt dishonest.

On health, especially among my co-workers now, I end up in conversations wherein I learn of all the diet-related medical issues this one or that one have. I literally have to bite my tongue whenever the woman down the hall shares her diabetes issues with me--because I witness her down 2 to 3 cans of Mountain Dew every morning.

All I can say is you won't find me going on and on about sleeplessness or dull skin. I already know I drink too much caffeinated coffee and I need to quit smoking. For more than just glowing skin. I do my damn best not to invite those truths.

Successfully demonstrating both my mental spaghetti and reliable immaturity...

So how about you? Are you finding yourself watching your words of late?

4 People Gabbed:

Rosie said...

I used to feel more concerned about what was appropriate to say. I don't so much any more. Not because it's okay to say mean or inappropriate things to people, but because I figured out I don't have to comment on everything. It took me a long time to figure out people didn't always want me to comment, sometimes they just wanted me to listen.

Jennifer B. said...

Wise insight Rosie, thank you. Married nearly 15 years now to a chatterbox, I'm a fairly well-trained listener. But I do wonder--of late--why I'm short on mental patience--with him and the other talkers in my world. That's what I mean by feeling dishonest--I'm actually having these other, brutally honest thoughts/responses running through my head as I sit there quietly listening. Didn't use to do that so much. Doesn't matter that I don't speak them aloud, it's still wrong or rude on my part. Leaves me feeling like a fraud. Think I need to stick my nose back in a book until it passes.

Holly said...

On the first issue - I know, having come from a long line of military men, he's grateful only to have your letter - it's content doesn't matter so much as the fact that you sat down to write it. Not only that, but the men in my family just loved (luckily none of them are deployed at the moment) to hear what's going on in my world, something that would take them out of the world their in, if only for a moment.

As for watching what I say: I actually find myself holding my tongue less and less. I make sure to word my responses respectfully, but I think we're doing more harm than good by guarding our words right now. We need to speak up, even if our opinions aren't necessarily welcome.

Maybe I shouldn't curb my tongue more, but I can't help but think we're better off speaking up then refusing to say anything at all.

Jennifer B. said...

Thank you so much Holly--I'm back to getting letters off to our soldier penpal. Happily so, thank you for that.

And I admire your ability to speak the truth. Lends itself to a self-honesty I'm aiming for I think.