It is a curious thing, the ways of time. One moment time is moving at a comfortable pace; you’re comfortable in your skin and in your schedule and life is in balance, the next second time has escaped stealing any peace that it had previously promised leaving us confused and stressed, wondering where it went. On and on this cycle continues, from Monday to Sunday, from weekend to weekend, just like clockwork. This is real life in an age governed by time. This is what my life used to look like, somewhat stressful but comfortably predictable all the same. Now this has changed.
Where time used to be easily sectioned off into days and weeks, months and years, holidays, work days and weekends, I am now living in a timeless land. I live in a family with a rhythm of day shifts and night shifts, days off and 9-5s. Growing up I lived in a family with a life rhythm built around the days of the week. Of course we had school Monday to Friday but in addition to that, Mondays was laundry day, Saturdays was cleaning day, and Sunday was a day set apart from the mundane for visiting and playing, we mowed the lawn in summer and shovelled snow in winter. It was regular, it was comforting.
Needless to say, when I married B, I had no idea how shift work changed one’s perception of time and messed with those daily and weekly life rhythms, and even how it impacted one’s perception of holidays and weekends. From the first weekend I spent alone while B was at work till now we have been on a steep learning curve, trying to find ways of instituting some sort of regularity in the face of an excessively irregular schedule.
For the first eight months of our married life I was a part-time student, finishing off my MA, and worked part time, this meant I was gone three days a week. This meant that if B was working the weekend I would hardly see him at all and if he was working a rotation during the week I would see him even less, about five hours in five days. Add to that the fact that we were newlyweds and there was a lot of stress coming from working and my last semester of school, this was very difficult.
When I completed my degree and finished my work contract we decided that I would take the summer off to recuperate and focus on finding more effective ways of dealing with shift work. We also wanted to focus on building relationships with some of the great people we had been getting to know. When working the type of shift work that B works it is impossible for him to be involved in weekly activities that grow relationships through regular contact, and, since neither of us grew up in this city, we only had a few people we knew well enough to be comfortable letting them see the unpredictability of shift work.
And that is what it often feels like it is, unpredictable. With me at home it has allowed us to reach out more and be more involved in what is going on around us, and even to spend more time on our own relationship since I can get all the chores and food stuff done while B is at work so we have more time when he has a few days off, but at the same time it has removed any sense of regularity.
I have been reading a book about Sabbath (stay tuned for a review of it) and it has reminded me of how much I miss the rhythm that was established when I was growing up, when we took Sunday off. It makes me miss it and wonder how we can incorporate this idea into a schedule where B is working 13 hours many Sundays. So this is our new challenge: we have found ways of coping with the shift work so it doesn’t tire B out for days, now I want to work towards finding a way of instating a rhythm in our home, a rhythm that can be soothing, at the same time I want a rhythm that can be flexible so that when B has Monday to Friday off we are free to travel and explore and Sabbath on those days as well.