By: Shannon Ralph
Reason #15: The midday check-in.
Ruanita calls me every single day while I am at work. It does not matter where she is or what she is doing. It doesn’t matter if she has 100 things going on that day or none. It does not matter that she has no news to tell me. It does not matter that she knows I am in meetings all day and will be able to say little more than “Hello.” She calls. She always calls.
For fifteen years, Ruanita has called me in the middle of my work day. Some days, she will call me numerous times. Other days, it is just our one midday call. It’s funny how our midday topics of conversation have changed throughout the years.
Before we had children, Ruanita would call me to discuss our plans for the evening. Did I want to go to a movie? Did I want to eat out or stay in tonight? Did I want to go to the Vulva Riot on Friday night? Did I remember that “E.R.” was on tonight so my family was not allowed to call or stop by any time during the 9:00pm to 10:00pm hour?
When Ruanita became pregnant with our eldest son, our free-wheeling conversations turned a bit more serious. Ruanita would call to report any and every feeling, sensation, or movement she experienced. She also called to fret…her personal specialty. Was it normal to have raging heartburn? She was nauseous. She had not felt the baby kick for over 10 minutes. Should we call the Nurse Line? Would I stop and pick her up another McDonald’s cheeseburger on my way home from work?
When I was pregnant with our twins, her calls were often more panic-stricken. Did I think we had enough insurance? How in the hell were we going to pay for daycare? Did I think she’d be a good mom of three? I DID realize that we are going to be outnumbered, didn’t I? We need to go ahead and get cribs. We need to be prepared. I shouldn’t be painting the babies’ room. Paint has fumes, you know? I needed to eat something. Anything.
When our twins were little and Ruanita was home alone with them during the day, her calls became subtle cries for help. They were ganging up on her. They had managed to shred another board book with their bare hands. She caught Nicholas climbing up his dresser again. Aren’t I glad we secured it to the wall after he pulled it over on himself last week, barely missing his tiny little skull? Sophie’s ear-piercing screams could be heard across the entire neighborhood. And she was upsetting Lucas and Nicholas. It was a feast of tears at my house. Nothing would calm Sophie down. Those were the days I was glad to be at work. At least momentarily. Until I relieved Ruanita to do the night shift alone—outnumbered and outsmarted at every turn.
These days, things are calmer. Life is simpler. Our calls are still primarily about the kids, but there is less of an urgency to them. Ruanita only had to stay in Sophie’s classroom 20 minutes this morning. That’s progress. Will I please remember to make sure Lucas does his math homework tonight? Nicholas was in the nurse’s office again at school today. She must think he has the bubonic plague. Will I write out a check for Lucas’s choir tuition this evening? We are out of milk. We are out of juice. We are out of toilet paper. We need Tooth Fairy cash for Sophie. Nicholas has already played his allotted one hour of video games, so he is cut off for the day. The dog puked on the bedroom floor.
And then there are my favorite calls. The short and sweet ones. The calls that have no real purpose. No real agenda. The calls that go a little something like this:
“What do you need?”
“Oh, nothing. Just checking in.”
“Okay, I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
I suspect that Ruanita will continue to call me until my very last day of work, which will likely coincide with my last day on this Earth at the pathetic rate I am saving for retirement. It’s nice to know that she thinks about me during the day. It’s comforting to know that, after fifteen years, she still wants to hear my voice. That she needs to touch base. She needs to know that I am okay when we are apart. And she needs to tell me that she is okay.
The midday check-in is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.