I am the non-essential spouse of an essential worker and I am out of things to say

The current events are just too exhausting to continue conversating over

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My husband is an essential worker. He has had to work the entire year, no breaks, no vacations, and really, no big changes to his job. He goes in every day, attends meetings, briefings, and conferences. The biggest changes for him, like many essentials, include uncomfortably being around many people, developing alligator skin on the hands (sanitizer) and his face occasionally breaks out(mask).  Aside from that, he is as hard working as ever.  And I am not.

I am not considered an essential worker.  I own a non-essential small business, where I can see clients according to my own schedule and I can work with them on-line as well. Pre COVID, my days were filled with appointments, lunch meetings, networking events, and being a busy mom of boys.  Handling all the school stuff, as well as the sports, activities, social gatherings, and everything else. But in March, it all just stopped.

The kids were home from school, learning on a laptop.  Because of COVID my business stalled. I couldn’t see clients in person, and the on-line portion dipped dramatically as the economy came under duress. There were no practices to go to. No brunches to attend. There were no appointments or meetings or even gatherings with friends. My world completely stopped turning.

Of course, I can find things to stay busy. Writing, home projects, books to read, board games to play, and new wines to drink. I watch online sermons, pray and workout. My dog gets lots of walks and attention. On the nights that my husband gets home at a decent hour, we have dinner and talk about the day. The past few months though, there seems to be less and less for me to say. lt is not that I don’t want to talk. I love nothing more than chatting the poor man’s ear off. I am just running out of things to say. The one question I keep praying he will forget to ask me, but every night he does, what did you do today? A genuine question he has been asking me for nearly 20 years. A question he is always interested in the answers to. A question I almost always yapped away about. 

Now I dread this question. What did I do today? What could I possibly say anymore? I had coffee on the porch while you drove to work. I listened to a podcast while you were in a stressful meeting. I had lunch with the kids while you were returning calls. I took a dip in the pool while you were sweating in your suit and tie. How can I say any of that? That is what I did. That and dishes, laundry, cooking, and such.  But that is what I did. I have never felt more non-essential in my life.

I am a mom, that is normally a full-time job (with tons of overtime), but without their day to day activities that they need me for, it’s more like a part time job. They are 11 and 13, they usually don’t want to hang out with their mom, they are borderline independent! The question stings. What did you do today? It stings because I have nothing new to say about what I did. It stings because while my husband is working through the pandemic, I feel so very non-essential that I am not.  

Sometimes I want to scream, WHAT DO YOU THINK I DID? The same thing as yesterday and the day before that. That feeling of frustration the makes me feel even worse than I already did. This is not his fault. He is incredible. He is supportive, caring and concerned about me and my day. He is the man who has been asking about my day for all these years. He does not deserve to be my punching bag. So, I don’t yell. I smile and search for something to say.

It has been a hard year. I may not show it or say it. But I am feeling non-essential in so many more ways than Government ordered. I know better though. I know the Universe has a big, beautiful plan and this will pass.  I know we are on our way to something so much greater. And even though I know better, right now, it still stings. 

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