I just added a link to my husband’s blog, So The Journey Begins, to my list of More Great Stuff: Human Edition. After he sent me the link, I had to open it so I could copy and paste the URL, and I started rereading his posts. I laughed, a lot (if you know my husband, you can probably guess at least a few of the reasons, and if you don’t, you should go read his blog, because it feels so good to laugh). I laughed so hard that I cried, more than once. After I got myself under control and wiped my face, though, I started to think about how much has changed in the last two and a half years; for both of us, but especially for him.
When Robert first moved in with me in September of 2010, he was physically grown, but he was still very childlike in so many ways. He had never held down a job, and he had no idea how to do common household tasks like dishes and laundry. And he knew he didn’t, and his self-esteem showed that. Even simple tasks like sorting laundry into the correct basket (and I sort pretty simply: light cotton, dark cotton, and synthetics of any color) or figuring out whether an item was truly dirty and needed to be washed (most shirts, all socks and underwear), or if it could be draped carefully over a chair and worn again (most jeans, some pants, most hoodies or sweatshirts) created a barrage of questions and mistaken assumptions that needed to be sorted out, sometimes on a daily, or even an hourly, basis.
Please don’t mistake me: I was happy to teach him the skills he’s learned, and we continue to teach each other things every day. Robert is becoming a wonderful help around the house, and I don’t have to remind him about things very much anymore. For someone who couldn’t tell the difference between a dirty or clean item of clothing just a few short months ago, he has made progress that is truly amazing. He will graduate from culinary school in a little over a month (and he finishes his coursework in just a couple more weeks), and he’s worked a full-time job since before Thanksgiving – not a small feat for someone who never thought he could hold down a job, period. His three-month review was amazing, and he’s one of the hardest-working people on the staff; once again, an amazing feat for someone who didn’t know how to read a recipe this time last year.
Robert has often been frustrated with the pace of his own progress, because he often compares himself to others in a negative way. He’ll say, “I’m so slow! Everyone else is getting this faster than I am!” but what he forgets to mention is that “everyone else” has been working in the restaurant industry for years, and he is comparing his new learning to their long experience. He is his own worst critic, and his own harshest judge. Even if I try to remind him how far he’s come by reminding him of some of the silly mistakes he’s made (this post is a great example), he will respond as if whatever story I’m telling happened last week, instead of more than two years ago. Even in this, though, he is growing: he is a lot more apt to join in my laughter these days, as opposed to getting offended and upset, and he’s learning to tell me when I’ve pushed too hard (I have a tendency to take a joke too far and upset people unintentionally, and many people don’t like to “call me out” on this, but Robert is starting to tell me when I’m not funny anymore).
For someone who was completely financially dependent on me and my teacher’s salary two years ago, Robert has come a long way in this as well. His salary covers over half of our household budget, and we are able to do a few fun things that we couldn’t have afforded before. Money is still extremely tight, but we both had enough confidence in him and his work ethic that I was able to quit my job last spring, and I’ve been a full-time graduate student ever since. He said, “I’ve gotten to reach for my dreams by going to cooking school. Now I want you to reach for yours. If you want to go for your Master’s, then I’ll support you.” I can’t say that it’s been “smooth sailing” ever since, but we’re both making it work – an amazing feat for someone who had never been financially responsible before.
It’s hard for me to watch his frustration sometimes, because I wish he would see how far he’s come. The overgrown boy-child I married a little over two years ago has truly become a man. Not only that, he’s become a man I respect and admire, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Mahal ki ta (this is “I love you” in Tagalog, one of the native languages of the country where his family is from) my darling love. The past two and a half years have been amazing, and I know things will just keep getting better as time goes on.