It always seems to catch me off guard, the re-entry into family life. I am just back from a five days trip to the Bioneers conference. I worked hard there, talking to many people about my beliefs about love and the importance of sustaining and valuing our intimate relationships as the core of our activism. There was one conversation I had in particular that struck me, a guy from another booth related to me that his relationship was not hard or challenging. He and his partner of 10 years have a “synergy” based on their own responsibility of doing their own personal work… They have three young kids together and he described his relationship as totally harmonious because when it worked it was great, when it didn’t they each had their own space to figure it out… I couldn’t help but notice, the three young children were not there with him, and I wondered if his partner would give the same report.
It sounds good and, on paper, seems like it should work, but we all know that the details of life: the clothes left unwashed, unmended, unfolded; the food to acquire and cook and serve (and hopefully enjoy); the schedules to juggle; the discipline and justice to serve to growing children and teenagers don’t always leave room for the “synergy” thing to happen.
Usually when I arrive back home, my husband exhausted from doing his job and all of mine, it is the weight of the myriad details that we feel between us. Sifting through the mess, not reacting to the lack of interest in my experience and holding my tongue when I have no kind words, this is the work of sustainability in families. There are definitely moments of synergy- especially after a physical reunion late at night. And I am thankful that I have learned to build these moments even out of the rubble that feels like our connection in the re-entry.
I love the big picture feeling of my work when I am off in the world, not really responsible for the work itself. It is an education for me when the details of the life I have created come rushing over me like a 20 foot wave. I am grateful for having communicated all that big-picture learning hundreds of times, because it prepares me all over again for the real work- all the lovely messy details of building lives together.