Triple Overtime

It is three in the morning when Tamara leaves her office. The table has been cleared, dinner placed in Tupperware containers, and the dishes cleaned. One plate sits in the fridge, plastic wrap over the  broiled salmon, wasabi mashed potatoes and green beans almondine. She smiles even as her stomach grumbles. She should not eat before going to bed but she worked right through dinner, missing family game night, and their favorite Thursday night shows while grading papers.

Some woman may let guilt get the better of them. Some would see the new drawing on the fridge as they close the door, the one with everyone but mommy playing games while the mother is off to the side working, and feel like they are failing. Some would do that even after receiving countless pictures of scenes recounting fun times for all, or just between mother and child. Mothers are supposed to be there every single time, that is what they are told. That is what her mother tells her.

She does not listen though. Well, she listens, but does not let it rule her. She has worth beyond just her children and her husband. They do not diminish her, but neither does her career diminish them. So many feel they must define themselves by their relationships to child and husband, and mother, that they lose themselves. If Tamara feels anything about it, it is sorrow that too many of her sisters in academia are made to feel that guilt.

It is luck, she knows. Not many husbands, regardless of their background, are as supportive as Ian. There are many women who feel as she does whose husbands would tell them to calm down when they call out all the ridiculous, patriarchal assumptions heaped on them by friends, family, and neighbors. Some husbands would give themselves credit for “letting” their wives be themselves, but not Ian.

No, they are best friends above all else and each respects each others’ strengths, weaknesses and most of all, their accomplishments. They have each others’ backs, and she reflects on that happily before going upstairs, to his snoring and farting to inflict her thrashing about in her sleep on him. They will wake up tomorrow, still a team, and still winning at life, in all the ways that matter.

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