Late, Late at Night

I looked at the clock as I rolled over in bed.  3:37 am.  I sat upright.  R was not in the bed next to me.  What the hell?

It was the second week in April, which meant for my husband that he was working late.  “Quarter close” became synonymous in our household for excused absences from R, who sometimes worked 100 hour weeks during the two to three week period when his company pulled together all of the numbers from the previous quarter, analyzed them, and then prepared to report them to Wall Street.  Michael had been born during a planned induction on Martin Luther King day, because it was the only pause in the even worse “Year End Close” that consumed the whole month of January.

I was used to the cycle by now since R had been with the company nearly seven years, but it still seemed a little worse each time the quarter close rolled around.  Certainly it was worse since we’d moved to Connecticut and he’d taken a job at the company headquarters.  Still, I’d stopped bitching about it; while it was hard to be home with three kids, two of them 6 and under (and one of them on the autism spectrum), it was far better than the alternative of R being out of a job.  Everyone seemed to like his performance here since we’d moved, and the longer hours meant more responsibility and bigger paychecks.  It meant we could pay for more therapy for Michael, it meant that Z’s college decisions wouldn’t necessarily be tied to which college offered the most money to him.  So I tried to swallow my complaints as the arrivals edged later and later each night.

Still, this quarter seemed worse.  During the first week of it, R’s usual return home of 9pm had been blown out of the water.  10, 10:45, one night even close to midnight. I wondered how he could possibly keep up the pace as he rolled out of bed the next morning at 6am, out the door to work by 6:30.  The kids stopped asking where he was; they hadn’t seen him because his entire time at home had occurred while they were asleep.  Saturday was spent in his office while I ferried the children to Michael’s therapy and Melinda’s music lessons.

But now we were on the second week, and last week’s home arrival times seemed positively quaint.  Midnight or later all around, so I’d stopped waiting up.  I’d just roll over in the middle of the night when he finally rolled in; it got later each night.  1:25, 1:50…it was beyond amazing to me that he could possibly stay awake and productive for all of those hours.  But this?  How could he not be home by 3:30 in the morning?  He couldn’t possibly be working this late.

Something must have happened.  He was tired, the roads were slippery in the early April freeze/thaw mode we were in right now.  The country roads he drove to and from work had no streetlights and were impossibly dark at night; at three in the morning?  I flipped on the bedside lamp and tried to think.  I should start by calling the office, just to be sure.  Maybe he fell asleep at his desk.  Next his Blackberry; he’d be more prone to answer that than his personal cell during a busy time at work.  If none of those answered, I’d give it till after the kids went to school (they would be unfazed by him not being home in the morning since he’d been leaving so early anyway) and then I’d call the police.

I got out of bed to go over to the phone when I suddenly heard the clanking of our automatic garage door opener beneath me.  He was home. All of the panic drained out of me and became replaced with anger.  How could he not have called to let me know he’d be this late?  Didn’t he know that this was insanity?  What kind of job made you stay at work until after 3 in the morning?  He’d gotten there at 6:30!

“Hey, you’re up,” R said, looking disheveled and exhausted as he entered the bedroom.  “Listen, I think they are going to have me spend the night in the hotel nearby work tomorrow night.  So much going on, they think that will help us slog through it faster if I’m not spending forty minutes going back and forth on the commute.  Just FYI.”  He turned his back and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

I turned out the bedside lamp and lay back down on the bed, my head reeling.  Was this really what I’d signed up for?




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