After yesterday’s post, quite a few women said they wanted to know how Becky stays sane and keeps everything running smoothly when I’m traveling.
My initial response? Bwahahahaha!
Seriously, it’s flattering – and delusional – for anyone to think that my wife could fall apart because I’m not home. Oh, my friends, you really don’t know my wife.
And so, a Q&A with Becky…
Shaun: So, Becky, how can you possibly stay sane without me? How. On earth. Do you get by?
Shaun: (blank stare)
Becky: You want me to answer that?
Becky: Uhhh. Well, ok, one way I stay sane is to not over-busy our lives. I’m not rushing to and fro trying to get four kids four different places. And now that Gabriella is older (she’s eleven) she helps – I can run two kids to piano while she waits for the youngest to get home from school. I can go get a pizza while Gabriella watches the kids.
Shaun: What about when the kids were younger? How’d you survive without me then?
Becky: We have lots of children in the neighborhood. The kids played with them outside; I put out a tray of snacks and sat outside watching them play, talking to neighbors who were home. It’s about managing expectations.
Shaun: What do you mean?
Becky: I know in advance when you’ll be at home. I get my grocery shopping done when you’re here. I expect to have less time to myself, less time to get things done, when you’re gone. I try not to schedule a lot of things while you’re gone. And the kids have always known this schedule of yours. They can see the schedule on the calendar. They expect you to be gone and know when. …And the kids help a lot. They can make their own lunches, clean their rooms, do laundry, clean their bathroom, clean up after themselves. The older they get, the more they can do for themselves and that helps a lot.
Shaun: So what’s an example of not managing expectations well?
Becky: I kind of gear up for a certain amount of time you’re going to be gone. I don’t just mark your concerts on the calendar but your travel time there and back too. So if you end up being gone longer than I expected, THAT stresses me. I don’t like that. The expectations are set by all those rules we’ve made too. When we don’t follow the rules it causes stress.
Shaun: And that causes me stress. If you’re stressed. Because then I have to sit in the corner when I get home. I don’t like the corner.
…So I think other women sometimes are defensive on your behalf. They think I’m mistreating you, abandoning you. I get asked things like “So Becky’s basically a single mom half the year???” What would you say to them? Do you feel that way?
Becky: Well, yes, I am a single mom part of the year – not half of the year – but I expect that to happen. This has been your career for twelve years. There’s nothing wrong with being a single mom for a little while…if I know you’re coming back!
Shaun: As far as you know…
Becky: Right. Well, then our next interview will be with me behind bars…
Shaun: Duly noted.
Becky: I think this is where my personality comes in too. I don’t expect you to be the only one who can get the oil changed. I don’t wait for you to come home so the checkbook can get balanced. My personality is independent. I’ve always been pretty self-sufficient.
Shaun: First born.
Becky: Yea. I lived by myself. So, sure we have a division of work – some things are typically yours to do but that’s not a hard line. So if you’re gone and something important needs to be done I understand it’ll have to wait or I do it myself or I ask someone else for help. If it can’t wait I can ask for help. But I don’t harbor resentment toward you for not doing something that you’re not here to do.
Hopefully you’d tell me if my being so independent bothered you.
Shaun: Well, it does sometimes. But I’ve told you that. I’ve asked you to please not hang things or move furniture when I’m gone. I’d like to keep pretending you need me for something. Plus when you hang stuff it’s not straight. And there’s not enough OCD medicine in the world to keep me from twitching when a picture isn’t straight.
Becky: Well, that comes from years of knowing each other. I know what bothers you – it’s expectations! – If I hung something when you were out of town I wouldn’t be surprised if you were bothered by that.
Shaun: Would my traveling be harder for you to take if it wasn’t for a good cause? Does that help you at all – knowing what I’m out there doing?
Becky: Probably. There’s a bigger purpose. But still, if I consider you the primary provider for our family and if we, as adults, realize that part of that is traveling, then I’m going to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. We’re adults.
Shaun: But I could provide in lots of other ways? I could get a church job, teaching or leading music. I could teach school? Do graphic design? Chippendales? So many alternatives. D you ever wish I’d just change jobs and stop traveling?
Becky: Well, all ministry jobs – from my experience – take a lot of time away from family too. I’d rather your time away be in chunks instead of time away every day. Ministry and teaching are more unpredictable – you’d have a regular work day but there’s plenty of overtime too. Other kinds of jobs? I don’t wish you’d take one because I think God called you to do this. You’re satisfied. I’d rather have a guy at home three or fours days a week who feels he has a purpose in his work than have an unsatisfied purposeless guy at home more often.
Shaun: Some women wonder if you worry at all about what I’m doing out there on the road with all those women folk coming to my concerts?
Becky: All the adoring fans?
Shaun: Tens of them.
Becky: It only takes one. By the way, remember the jail reference earlier? …No, you don’t travel alone, you don’t have conversations alone with women – you’ve done what you can to limit the risk. And you haven’t given me any reason to worry either.
Shaun: And you’re hot.
Becky: And I still think you’re funny.
Shaun: And that’s all I need.
Anything else to add?
Becky: Yea, you’re good at taking time off and spending time with me and the kids. You don’t hole up in your office when you’re home. I see you a lot.
Shaun: Well, I know your love language is time. And I actually like you. And I usually like the kids. So I want to hang out with you. I know other musicians who feel punished for being gone, nagged, guilt tripped. They don’t like being home. You make home my favorite place to be. I never feel guilty.
Becky: Oh, that’s good for you. Sad for them. I mean, I understand wanting to be away. If my mom job could require traveling – sans kids – I’d be outta here some days. So I don’t resent you but sometimes I envy your away time. I wonder if that’s what some of the guilt trip is about. Those wives don’t get equal time away. I get that. But I think they need to remember that their husbands ARE working while they’re gone. It’s not like you’re on the beach sipping maitais. You’re working.
Shaun: Sure I am. Seriously though? I feel guilty being gone some days because sometimes what I’m doing doesn’t feel like work. I’ve had real jobs and this isn’t a real job. And I know how hard your job is – it’s harder than mine. I don’t answer half as many questions as you do in a day. And I’ve never done twelve loads laundry in a twenty-four hour period.
Becky: Yes, but I get to sleep in my bed every night.
Gresham (age 10): Alone.
Shaun: Thanks for that, son.
Gresham: You’re welcome.
Shaun: Don’t you have a bathroom to clean?
Becky: That would help a lot.