Tonight was a very busy night at the restaurant…in terms of business per server. We weren’t packed, but we were running like banchees for about 5.5 hours nonstop. My hips hurt. I might be the first male to say that under the age of 60, but it’s true nonetheless. They really do hurt. My day started with a leak in my car’s fuel tank, and ended with my hips hurting, with about $200 more in my pocket than I did at the start. Which isn’t too shabby for a Monday, no matter what time of year it is.
My last table was a couple who was celebrating their 7th anniversary. Their evening started poorly, as the husband left his wallet at home, which is about 40 minutes from Peoria, where I work. He called to cancel their 6:30 reservation, and humbly walked in around 7:45 hoping we would still have a table available. Not a good start, but they were in good spirits.
They randomly mentioned to me that having three kids is total insanity. I agreed. They looked pretty young, so having three kids is definitely insanity (just ask Isaac and Heidi if you want to get a clear picture of this insanity). The husband went on to say that they were just discussing how they can find more time to just be. To sigh. To take a break. To be together. To have time alone. To feel human. He then bemoaned the fact that they don’t really have any friends to hang out with. He actually looked like he would cry if it weren’t for the fact that he didn’t know me.
I get that.
It’s incredibly isolating to have kids. They ruin your social life (which, at least some of the time, isn’t really that bad). But it does suck to feel like you don’t have any time to just be who you are, as an individual, without a title attached like mom or dad. They said that they spend their anniversaries talking about how they are going to change that, and then nothing changes. I really wanted to solve their problem with ideas, but that seemed useless. They just needed someone to vent to that understood. They found the right person. I told them that I was going to give them a free dessert for their anniversary, at least.
Empathy doesn’t say at least.
I said “At least”.
After I brought them the bill, I asked them if they had solved all of their problems over dinner. They said they were going to go to the beach and hash things out there. I talked with them about church, about having a support network, about being a busy dad who never stops, about how we try to figure things out as a couple with a 4 and 3 year old at home.
He’s a farmer, and he just finished a four month stretch of 19 hours on, and five hours to sleep. They talked about their small group at church, and how they have been really great, and again it looked like he would cry if not for the circumstances. I shared with them my mantra that parenting is ‘all good but mostly difficult’, something I’ve written about elsewhere. They agreed.
As I write this, I am praying for them, for their marriage, for their sanity, and for them to find a way to just be. We all need that. We all need time to just be who we are without titles and responsibilities. We need that in order to be the best parents, students, lovers, and friends that we can be the rest of the time.
Tomorrow, I get to do just that. 10 hours with my wife recording vocals. Just being us.