Pete Wilgoren and his wife are just two tired parents trying to make it all work at a time when the American Dream seems as far off as ever.
It was seven lines of texting that cut to the core of where my wife and I are right now in the course of our relationship. She works days and leaves early in the morning. I work nights and leave in the middle of the afternoon. This week we went through one of those stretches where I got home at night and she was dead asleep and she got up the next morning and I was dead asleep so we didn’t see or talk to each other for more than a day. We sleep in the same bed just inches away and didn’t even get to say hi to each other. So I texted her in the middle of the afternoon.
233p me “Hi”
234p wife “Hi- I miss you”
236p me “Miss you too stranger”
239p wife “How are you”
241p me “Good…you?”
242p wife “OK– looking forward to the weekend”
244p me “yep me too”
That was it. Seven lines over eleven minutes. I hoped I’d see her at night when I got home. She was asleep and I wasn’t about to wake her up. I wanted to. Really wanted to. Thought about it. But I didn’t. And as I sat there in the middle of the night after work, with the family asleep, I thought about our quick exchange of texts. No steaminess there. No innuendo. No deep secrets revealed. Just seven lines that said it all: two tired parents trying to make it all work at a time when the American Dream seems as far off as ever.
We are spinning on the hamster wheel and I don’t know quite how to get off or even slow it down. And we’re just like millions of other folks. There are bills to be paid, and kids to be raised, and commitments to be met. The wheel keeps going. I remember a time when I was just graduating college when I couldn’t wait to get ON that wheel. My first big job. My first big paycheck. My first big purchases. These were my choices.
Now, twenty years after graduating high school, I’m looking at things with a whole new perspective. I love my wife and my kids more than anything. They deserve more of me and my time. I am here today resolving to slow down that wheel. I don’t know exactly how. I don’t know exactly when. But I am determined to slow it all down. My wife and I used to talk for hours on the phone when we first met. I’d write her letters and poetry and notes. It’s unacceptable to me that our relationship can be reduced to seven lines of texting. It’s my fault. It’s time for a change.
Photo: Flickr/Sam Beckwith