Tuesday, February 21, 2012

on marriage: the philosopher’s wife

 photo credit here

Amber and Seth Haines started a Monday series on marriage, penning letters about the grit and the grace of it all.  this week's topic is "my job - your job."  link your marriage letter here.

Dear Ryan,

How many times now? --

“So, if you don’t mind my asking, what exactly does one  do with a degree in Philosophy?”


[shifts weight, left to right]

[makes crazy Nietzsche face]

And this, my love, is where you thank God that  you married an English major.  For once I have shepherded the questioner through a maze of metaphors concerning the realm of the metaphysical and the future of mankind as we know it, you swim off the hook, and he or she is left believing that the lamentable vocation  you’ve been assigned is listening to me ramble for the next seventy years, and these classes are simply convenient excuses for escape.

Little do they know that for all of the rhetoric, I wouldn’t know an epistemic axiom if it plopped into the dishwater.

And  dishwater is what I do.  That, and sticker charts, and Goodnight Gorilla on repeat - though I swore I wouldn’t.  Our first fight as marrieds – on our honeymoon, nonetheless – was about the jobs we’d do, you and me.  I watched a plate of shrimp and grits congeal while I explained to your raised eyebrows what "real work" was, what my qualifications were, what I planned on giving to the world.

Then we were given a boy.   And he made a fool out of me.

Since he came, we’ve learned to take the work as it comes:  steady -- sprint! --  then slow, reminding ourselves that   
we’re making a life, not just a living.  

We discuss Hobbes in the bathtub.  You know my favorite students by name.   We love the work that we do outside these walls, but ask for daily remembrance that  the work within  counts more.  We’re finding our rhythm, amidst the chaos, and   
it’s never fifty- fifty.  You don’t keep a tally of the times you fold the laundry, and I write off the walk to the dumpster as part of my cardio for the day.

We work ‘til we’re dizzy, into the wee hours, then we tell Monday morning “not just yet” and spend our slow waking daydreaming out loud over oatmeal.

Soon, you’ll wear a tassel.  All those late night papers will get you a fancy piece of paper, and No, I will not call you Master.

The day will dawn, soon enough, when you’ll receive paychecks with numbers higher than the electric bill, and there’s a part of me that’s already waiting at the mail slot for one.  But then I catch a glimpse of you, and that smallest of ours is in your lap, cradled beneath some volume of Platonist whatnot, crinkling her eyebrows like you’ve been known to do.

And somehow, in those moments - this life of late nights and patchwork income – just works.

Here's to finishing this work we've started ...

Your proofreading paramour,



  1. i love this. i find myself almost hypnotized when i read your stuff. your words just flow. and make me laugh and join in the experience, all at the same time. i am there as you're writing, it seems.
    anyway, i also love your perspective on this time in your marriage, this season of growing and changing and a recognition of the changes to come. if you take them with the same stride that you've taken the ones thus far, it seems to me you've found a good recipe for success.

  2. "You don’t keep a tally"

    Seriously, isn't that the point of the whole thing?! Ah, I love this, as usual.

    Thank you, again.

  3. oh yes, yes! My husband and I are both going to school while we work full time, and we always have a lap full of babies when we are trying to get it done :) all the best to you both as you move through this season and into the next, so glad that you can see the beauty in the now, too.

  4. I read this and sense that you've stayed in touch with yourself, and I feel the slightest bit envious (a sin, I know). SAHM is my full-time gig, now, and I'm mostly grateful. But sometimes I miss the magic I used to create in the classroom. We both know there's no such thing as Superwoman, but I think there's balance, and you seem to have found in within your marriage and outside of it.

  5. Hilarious....yes...we had one of those conversations too...the one where I promised to never give up my career...and then...my brown eyed boy whom I couldn't leave more than occasionally. Thankfully my boss has opened doors to odds and ends and it has been perfect...mostly...still a lot though isn't it???

  6. This is fantastic. Between the "crazy Nietzche face" and "No, I will not call you Master," you've got me giggling, but my favorite line is this:

    ~We work ‘til we’re dizzy, into the wee hours, then we tell Monday morning “not just yet” and spend our slow waking daydreaming out loud over oatmeal.~

    I know that kind of morning well, and I love that you two also take time to dream together. It's the stuff happy relationships are made of.

  7. Darling. Sweet. Wonderful words! Walk to the dumpster as part of the Cardio, I can get behind that. Thanks for sharing!

  8. making a life, not a living...a perfect reminder!

  9. Sounds like you got a good thing going (have) hee hee, English major. Anyways, my man and I are the same - it doesn't matter who does what work as long as the work gets done. Also, "Good Night, Gorilla" is so much more fulfilling than Ayn Rand any day. Just sayin'. xx

  10. i could read your writing forever. just sayin...

  11. LOVE!!!!
    -laura marie