Monday, July 09, 2012
Settling In Your Zone
Rob liked being a homeowner. Despite getting married relatively young and becoming a father sooner than he had planned, it was home ownership that really made Rob feel like an adult, so he embraced the roles the responsibility spawned. Especially the yard. As a kid Rob had hated being required to mow the lawn and trim the hedges, but now he found himself outside on the humid summer evenings, wandering the perimeter of his quarter acre as if getting to know it; thinking about the general maintenance for the coming Saturday morning as well as dreaming about long-term improvements.
He was tired, sure, but unlike previously, the tired came with the purpose of investing in financial stability, and that made it meaningful. Even though William was only six weeks old, Rob had already started his college fund. Who knew what Ohio State would cost in eighteen years?
He walked slowly this evening, not even minding the mosquitoes, listening to Celia’s voice cooing through the open upstairs window as she bathed William. Rob would join them before she nursed William and together they would put him to bed, at least for the first time that night.
When he had spoken frankly to his mother-in-law Mary about the help he and Celia needed with the new house, he did so from a new stance. Rather than feeling uncertain about how she would respond, he felt confident that he had a right to bring it up. They had decided to buy this house together and he needed a partner in its maintenance, not just in its purchase.
“But I don’t want to step on your toes, Robbie,” she had said.
“Would it help if we had specific conversations about how you can help?”
“Definitely. Like a chore chart!” They had laughed about that together, but since then he and Mary had spoken every couple of days about specific things she could do to help them. Sometimes Celia participated in the conversations, but she preferred to tell Rob what would be helpful for her and let him talk to her mother. Rob hoped this would not last forever but for now it kept the peace as well as keeping the household running.
He sighed, content, as he turned to head back inside.
“Rob,” Celia called from the window. “Can you come here?” Her voice sounded anxious and he went inside quickly, through the kitchen door and up the stairs two at a time to the hall bathroom.
What is going on?
Monday, January 10, 2011
Rob and Celia began 2011 feeling close and connected after a year that included Rob’s father’s heart attack and its impact on his family, Celia’s new role in the church’s afterschool program and its impact on her schedule, and how these and other external issues impacted their marriage. They have grown in their ability to address uncomfortable feelings by talking about them, and they have learned to be thoughtful about their “digital” marriage – a relationship embedded in a time and place that allows little time for reflection.
It was tax season again, Rob’s busiest time of the year at work. It was also a drab Ohio post-Christmas winter, in which the snow was gray, the sky was gray, the trees were gray, and the pavement and buildings were gray – a time of year in which it was hard not to get “down in the dumps” as his mother would say.
Rob had livened up his office cubicle, though. Celia had created a bejeweled scrapbook-style, poster-size collage from his family photos with everything from his baby pictures to their wedding and honeymoon, and even one them from their night at The Nutcracker a couple of weeks ago. He hung this on one gray wall of his two-person cubicle. The infusion of color had immediately lifted the tone of the space, which was feeling particularly gloomy since his cubicle-mate had changed departments and he was alone. Celia also sent along a small lamp with a colored glass shade, insisting that even though he did not need additional light that it would “warm” the space. She had been right, as she had been about playing quiet music on a playlist she created for his iPod. Rob knew he could be self-denying to a fault – really quite the disciplinarian about duty and such – and he appreciated her efforts, because they worked. He would not have thought of them himself.
So Rob worked his spreadsheets on a cloudy Tuesday in January, his space warmed by lighting and music and good memories. He was feeling pretty content with his lot in life when suddenly there was an overwhelming infusion of perfume into his space. No sooner had he sneezed in response than he heard a throaty female voice:
“Are you Rob?” the voice said.
Rob swirled around in his office chair to face a woman standing in the entrance of the cubicle. She was carrying a cardboard box.
“I’m Lucy,” she said. “I’m your new office buddy.”
She was probably in her twenties, like him, but wore heavy make-up and big hair that made her seem older. Rob stood up to greet her as she dropped her box onto the other desk. She unwound a scarf and took off her coat, dropping them on the desk as well.
She was wearing high-heeled, thigh-high black boots that skimmed the hem of her short skirt, and a low-cut, tight red sweater over what must have been one spectacularly engineered bra. Clearly, Lucy had not looked over the office dress code yet. Rob at once appreciated the view while wishing she had a nice silk scarf to drape over her cleavage, which was distracting to say the least. Lucy pulled out her chair and sat down, which hiked her skirt up another several inches. She crossed her legs, kicked back and looked at Rob, smiling. His quiet music suddenly sounded thin and tinny in the background.
What does Lucy say to Rob?
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Who has the perfect family? (Joanne’s comment)
I am concerned about Celia’s self-esteem. This deficit makes her externally focused, which means that Celia struggles to find inner value because she is reliant on others’ opinions of her. If we remember back to Celia’s issues around getting married—she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a teacher, or stay in Ohio, or even be married yet—we are reminded that there are parts of Celia that are young and unformed and desperately need some positive experiences. I agree with Harold that one of the places Celia can turn for validation is to Rob. I am, however, worried that the combination of Celia’s low self-esteem and professional dissatisfaction, which is hitting up against an un-motivating economic climate, could begin to cause a low-level depression that will undermine the quality of Celia’s life and marriage. Healthy individuals make for healthy marriages. I hope Rob can find ways to support and encourage Celia to continue to grow into who she is and wants to be despite the family shortcomings that she finds so burdensome.