Just 5 Minutes of Her Time
This could easily have been one of those open letters. You know, those “letters” people are fond of posting on social media and on blogs or releasing to news websites. They’re addressed to one person but meant for all to see. This would have been an open letter to Marilee, my wife. In it, I would have been asking for her forgiveness and patience.
But I can barely get Marilee to listen to my bulls— these days, so she’s hardly in the mood to read it in an open letter. Frankly, that’s exactly what I’ve been offering lately: bulls—.
It seems impossible, but last Thursday, I spent 5 minutes with Marilee. Yes, in the course of a 24-hour day … 5 minutes. Mind you, I wasn’t just getting back from an out-of-town trip that day. Our schedules that day didn’t include any out-of-the-ordinary events or appointments that demanded extra time. Nope. It was a normal day. It was a routine day. Yet somehow, I only spent 5 minutes with the woman with whom I share a home, a bed, and bathroom. And on top of that, they weren’t even quality minutes. Thursday was an extreme case, but it certainly isn’t the only day that something like this has happened. It’s just the only day that I finally paid attention.
Sure, the schedule is tight, difficult, and frustrating. Yes, our 2-year-old daughter demands a lot of attention. Yes, we have demanding careers. But none of that is why I couldn’t even spend a good 5 minutes with Marilee. Rather, my focus was elsewhere. I made everything else a priority. It’s a classic case of taking someone and something for granted. Many of us are susceptible to this as we get caught up in the daily grind of life. We make the assumption that someone or something will always be there, despite our neglect.
I justify it by telling myself that I’m focusing on professional endeavors and making grand sacrifices on behalf of and for the betterment of my family. But the truth is that what’s being sacrificed IS the family.
At times like this, I reach out to my pastor, my closest friends, and my mom. But I also like to go back and read one of my favorite columns of all time by former NY Times columnist Bob Herbert: “Tweet Less, Kiss More.” “One of the essential problems of our society,” he writes, “is that we have a tendency, amid all the craziness that surrounds us, to lose sight of what is truly human in ourselves, and that includes our own individual needs — those very special, mostly nonmaterial things that would fulfill us, give meaning to our lives, enlarge us, and enable us to more easily embrace those around us. We need to reduce the speed limit of our lives.”
So, this is not an open letter to Marilee. It’s a heartfelt, friendly reminder to anyone who needs to stop, take a breather, and reassess. Perspective and balance are worthy pursuits, even in an environment where being the last one to leave the office, losing sleep, and multitasking are often viewed as badges of honor … and spending only minutes a day with a loved one comes with the territory. In my case, I should probably call it what it really is: bulls—.