It’s Off to Work We Go

As we end the work week, I’d like to revisit an interview The New York Times interview ran recently with children’s writer Rebecca Stead.

Stead, the author of the wonderful Newbery Medal winning children’s novel “When You Reach Me,” chatted with the Times about for a feature about what her typical Sunday with her husband and two boys is like. It’s meant to be a look at family togetherness (We buy bagels together! We watch The Simpsons together!) but what struck me was the feeling of overwhelming loneliness that pervaded the piece. In less than 600 words, Stead either mentions or alludes to her husband’s more normal non-presence in her children’s lives twice. “My husband generally works a lot during the week, so Sunday is also our day when he’s around,” she says early in the chat, later adding that “Sunday is probably the only day when we always, always eat together.”

Stead’s not alone. Survey data demonstrates that Americans who still have jobs in 2010 are working much harder, often for less money than in the past, with productivity output per worker surging. But that comes with a painful human cost. Many of my friends who are employed in full-time jobs have, in the past year, vanished from both my life and the lives of their families. I miss them, but their families miss them more. Just yesterday, two separate mom pals told me that their husbands were never home before 8:30 at the earliest. “The children are not handling it well,” confided one (who works full-time and then some herself), while the other admitted that her husband rarely got off work before their kids were asleep. Neither felt they could complain or do much to alter the situation. They were, they both admitted, simply grateful their spouses had a steady paycheck.

So what about you? Are you or your spouse seeing less of your family, kids and friends than you did prior to the recession? If yes, how are you and your loved ones handling it?

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