Striking a Balance

Biz commented on my previous post and asked if my husband ever gets jealous of the trips Carlos and I take together without him. The short answer is no, but I think it’s a really great question so I am going to expand on it a bit.

Since my husband and I moved to the United States 13 years ago life has never really felt balanced. At first we struggled to find solid ground here and build a life for ourselves. We worked diligently two jobs each to save for a home and prepare for a child. There were few vacations during that time. For years, after Carlos was born, Orlando and I worked opposite shifts and our interaction was often like ships passing in the night. Now we at least get to go to bed together almost every night of the week!

We love to travel and I have made it a priority. I think it’s particularly important for children to see other places and to experience history in person. Most of our trips are as a family, but finding time to vacation as a family during the summer is still challenging.

Orlando’s job is seasonal which means a long lifeless lull in the wintertime followed by endless days of nonstop work during the warmer months. It’s all we’ve known and not completely unfamiliar to me as my father’s job was similar when I was growing up. Because of this Orlando always sort of misses out on summer with Carlos and me. However, he entrusts me with the important job of making sure he knows what must not be missed. If I say this is important and you really should be there he will be there.

I do spend a great deal of time alone with Carlos especially during the summer. He and I have enjoyed many an adventure without Orlando. These trips Carlos and I take are not without discussion and consideration of schedules, finances and the realities of our jobs. When Orlando’s work is plentiful he has no choice but to work. He does not get paid time off because there is the assumption that he will be laid off for the winter offering him ample opportunity to go away while collecting unemployment.

I can honestly say there’s never any jealousy on Orlando’s part. There’s also no badgering on my part when Orlando works late every night and works the weekends as well during the summer. I love when Orlando is with us, but I do understand the nature of his job. Each week we sit and talk about the calendar for the week ahead. If Orlando can shift things around to be with us somewhere he certainly does it, but if not we all get it. I treasure my time with Carlos and I am very grateful that Orlando gives us his blessing to travel when the opportunities arise.

Don’t get me wrong though. I see the family vacation photos this time of year at the rental houses at the Cape, on the coast of Maine, at the Connecticut or Rhode Island beaches posted all over Facebook this time of year. I wonder what it would be like if we could also take a week off every summer to go on vacation as a family. Then I realize it’s only FB envy! It looks ideal in the photos, but truthfully that’s not really my kind of vacation. Orlando would agree. Personally, I hate going to the same place twice. While I like the beach for a couple of days that’s really enough for me. I much prefer our short crazy family weekend getaways to wherever I’m running a race. We also enjoy days trips and long car rides. We love to explore new places and go off the beaten path.

Our longer travels are typically during the winter. We almost always venture somewhere sunny and warm during Orlando’s lay off dulling the monotony of the dreary cold weather. This holiday season while everyone is freezing their buns off here in Massachusetts I will be enjoying summer all over again in southern Africa. While much of the trip will be spent catching up with my in-laws, the three of us always take at least a few days to spend time as a family.

To the onlooker, and even to me some days, our family may appear a bit disjointed and quite unbalanced. However, Orlando and I will be married for 14 years next month. Our relationship ebbs and flows throughout the course of each year due to the nature of our jobs, our outside interests and Carlos’ schedule, but somewhere in midst of the chaos is a fine balance of mutual respect, love and commitment. That is what makes it all work out.

3 thoughts on “Striking a Balance

  1. Love this post! Different things work for different people, and you’ve got to have your priorities in line with each other and your joint goals — which you guys clearly do. There will be lots of FB envy when you’re warm, outside, exploring a part of the world most FB friends will never see this winter, while everyone else is dealing with yet another snowstorm. Obviously don’t have kids, but from what I remember growing up, one-on-one time with each parent was just as important as family time, sometimes even more so.

  2. I too loved this post and how you make it work for your family. I keep forgetting that Orlando has so much down time in the winter, and then you pick up more work and it is a balance to keep it all together and I applaud you on making it work! When there is a will there is a way! Hugs!

  3. Aimee…I always love a peek into other people’s families…to see how they make things work…it clearly shows that you and Orlando take the time to have together time…when you have it. Sometimes that makes things all the more special. And I know all about FB envy…it’s awful easy to think everyone else has it so much better when you are bombarded with pics. Every family is different and I’m glad you guys have found something that works for you.

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