Balancing Life’s Activities

Copyright reference for above image –

“You have no appreciation of what I’m trying to do for this family!”

Joe was working his way to the top of his stress threshold as he paced the room waving his arms in frustration. Kate almost decided to retreat before things got out of hand, but her tendency toward brinksmanship prevented her.

“Joe, this family needs a father! I understood when your employers asked you to manage City Motors out of bankruptcy, but you’ve done that now. After that you had to become the best sportsman in town. I understood that too, you needed something to counterbalance the long office hours you work. Now you’re away from the family most of the time with your competitions, precious committees, and …”

“Kate, you’re the unhappiest person I’ve ever met. We discussed this before I got involved in community work. Everyone tells me how glad they are I represent them at city meetings. The city would be worse off if I were not there to set their committees straight. You’re the only one who seems to be unhappy with my involvement.”

“Good old Joe, the saviour of the community! What about your children? It would be a good thing if you used some of your energy on them before they grow up and leave home. How do you expect them to relate to you when they grow up if you’ve no time for them now?”

“Excuse me, did you say no time? What about the fishing trip last weekend? I schedule the Easter trip to the coast every year, and the Christmas trip to camp out. You really like to exaggerate don’t you?”

“Come on Joe, be honest! OK, the fishing trip was great, but you’re out playing sports while the kids romp around the beach with me Easter, and your mind is not with us at Christmas.”

“That’s not fair Kate! I need to have some personal space once in a while.”

“Yes you do Joe, and so do I! What I’m trying to tell you is you’ve a tendency to go overboard in whatever you do. Now you’re a candidate for election to the State Legislature. You come home at midnight from your meetings now. How on earth are you going to handle that job, if you get elected? We hardly get to see you now!”

“What rubbish! Why do you think I am doing all this? So my family can hold their heads up in this community and have recognition, that’s why.”

“Face the facts Joe. You’re proving a point because your father abandoned his family when you were twelve years old and …”

“That’s my typical Kate! And I married you because I thought you had a heart and would give me lifelong support. It was humiliating to have to almost beg your family for your hand in marriage. They were prejudiced against me …

“That’s not true!”

“Yes, they were prejudiced before and after our marriage because my father abandoned us, and my mother had to work as an usher in a theatre to support the four of us. I’ll prove to your family that a boy from a broken home has ambition, and can provide well for his family. Now you …”

“Not the point! I’m saying you don’t spend enough time with your family now. That’s a fact! Because you work hard, and take on all kind of other activities you’re prevented from being a father to our children. Kate paused wringing her hands, the anguish evident on her face. Have you grown tired of me, of us?”

“Not tired of you, but I’m tired of you constantly harping on this subject. Do I beat you or the children? No! You have a beautiful home full of the latest gadgets, you’re fed, clothed, and have community respect.”

“Joe, we’d give that up in exchange for your time. I’m harping, because I love you and want to spend more time with you. The children need you, and miss you when you’re away.

Joe was shaking with frustration and anger, and Kate’s heart melted as she watched the distress on his face. She gently reached out and took his hand, squeezing it in reassurance.

“I love you,” she whispered. “I only want more of you.”

Joe’s face contorted with emotion, eyes filled with tears.

“I know.”

He ruefully wrapped his arms around Kate, squeezing her passionately. “I do have hang ups that have driven me into this corner. I need space to find a way out of the mess I’ve created. Love me Kate, I need you!”

“I do”, she whispered. “I’ll always be here for you no matter what eventuates.”

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2011, all rights reserved”

6 thoughts on “Balancing Life’s Activities

  1. hi.
    havent been around much. have not read anything yet.
    just wanted to say hello and tell you i still think of you.
    sorry if i m not around much. having tough times.
    wish u the best.


  2. Hi Ian, this story, like so many of your newer stories, is multi-leveled. There is no simple one dimensional comment that can be made. At level #1
    the story is a straightforward exposition of the husband who is career path oriented and the wife is concerned that the “family” is being left out of the mix. Arguments fly with each one upholding his/her perception of the “balance” in the family. At this crucial point of entry Joe is defensive of his “rightness” but Kate is not willing to give-any-ground on the issue of the family being left out. Now just at the point where the “breakup” seems inevitable, Kate begins to reasses and modify her stance. And, Joe – showing uncommon “good sense” begins to mention somethings that he needed to do better “for the sake of the family” mainly revolving around the amount of “time” he gives to real family interaction. Now, you could have taken the confrontation in an entirely different direction, had that been you intention in the story line – you chose not to take this drama to the “break up” point. Both Joe and Kate come together in the classic “clinch” a little subdued in your majic style. And the confrontation comes close to beginning of a solution – but it is not there yet. Thus, you leave the door open for the next installment of the drama. The reader is left with an anticipation of how,exactly, the wheels will turn in Joe’s head when the next episode begins. And what of Kate’s drive to strengthen the family commitment of huasband Joe? Readers, as Ian Grice well knows, like to build scenarios of what they would like to have happen and then work on justifying their “dream solutions” in what they see of Ian’s story line. Where once Joe might have been seen as the arch villian; he has morphed into a real Humane human being and is likeable. These added factors is what makes this story workable as a multifaceted “levels” working toward some common end that only Ian sees at this moment and which he begins to flesh out the personas of Joe and Kate as the second and maybe third segments of the story comes across the pages.
    Ah! Yes!! proving once again that the “story teller” soul in Ian Grice always accounts for the chosen story lines and the changes that come about as he develops the twists and turns of the plot.
    Ah! would that I had his skills? But, then, I am a different sort as is the story kid a different sort – and that is what causes us to be great not just good friends!
    Jim the Feee


    1. It was based on a real life situation here James and the ending was a happy one as Joe and Kate reached their sunset years. So the plot end was delivered to me and I just had to put it into words. lol. Thanks for your insightful comments.


  3. Poor guy just needs to learn he does not have to prove anything to anyone and learn to say “No”. I believe when a couple marry and begin having a family they should put the children first, spend as much time as possible with them as they can. When the children are grown then comes the volunteering, extra tasks or whatever. Too many children grow up with way too little time with both or either parents. I enjoyed reading this. Hugs


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