Monday, May 14, 2012

Is Your Wife A Tour Widow?

I thought this might be an appropriate day for this post. The day after I worked an overnight which also happened to be Mothers Day and my wife's birthday...
Most people have heard the term "sports widow" before. You know the guy who completely ignores his family when the game is on. The term gets adapted to all kinds of other situations. What I wanted to talk about today was how your gigs affect your family and others around you. Is your work so involving that you're basically as good as dead to those who are close to you?

For my part, I've been busy enough over the last decade or so that my wife has definitely felt like a "tour widow" at times.  I would work all week at a construction job and then be gone most weekend nights mixing. As the situation changed I became a self employed contractor and started getting bigger gigs that kept me away for days at a time. Fortunately for me I really loved my work (both jobs) and didn't need to also have a hobby that would keep me away.  Lots of guys need to unwind from work at the bar, or go to the big game on Sunday, or fish in bass tournaments and whatnot. I always made it a point to keep extracurricular activities to a minimum.

In a way it was kind of strange because even my closest friends knew that if they wanted to see me, they either needed to book me to mix their band, or hire me to re-do their kitchen. Even after a gig, late at night, I would usually skip going out for a meal or a drink so I could get home and get to sleep and be able to be up for my family the next day.

Now there are plenty of other occupations that pull someone away from their family. I've reminded my wife on occasion that truck drivers are gone for days or weeks at a time and still manage to raise families. But as you've seen from my own personal example above, you don't have to leave home for six months on a world tour to have your gigs affect your personal life.

For a lot of us it can be not much of a problem at all.  I find that I have very few friends that aren't involved in one or both of the two industries that ruled my life.  Guys that tour constantly find their family on the road and may not have much to come home to anyway.  But you hear the story over and over again about guys that came off the road to find something else to do, closer to home, so they could be with their families.

Whether your touring internationally full time, or just our mixing in clubs every weekend, where it becomes tricky is when you've got people in your life that aren't part of that scene.  I watch relationships fall apart all the time because the non-industry person can't deal with the schedule their significant other keeps. In this case it might be a good idea to ignore the "don't date people from work" rule. It might not be a good idea to date the lighting tech from the club where you're the house guy, but one from another club would be in a better place to understand your schedule and work ethic than a legal aid who gets home from work every day by 6 pm.

With all that said, if your presence is often missed by the ones you love it's important to make it count when you are home with them.  For me, major holidays and even birthdays and anniversaries have taken a back seat to my job or a gig.  But all that means is that the emphasis has been placed on finding the magic in being home with the wife and kids on a Tuesday morning. We don't plan big family moments at my house. Christmas morning isn't some huge production with video cameras rolling and music playing. More often than not a big holiday has to be celebrated on another day entirely. The point is that when it does happen, we just relax and enjoy each others company and make memories, not recordings.

One up side of this is that my kids are learning to place the emphasis where it matters. How many families do you know where Christmas just isn't right until the last plastic icicle is properly hung and the last carol sang? People drive themselves nuts over this stuff. My kids spend the season getting ready for the day that we'll all be together. That's the special day for them even if it's not the 25th.

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