My husband's company recently switched from the antiquated Lotus Notes to Google for all their messaging. This was the catalyst for me to finally convert from an equally obsolete paper calendar to an electronic one. My husband and I could finally synchronize our calendars. Never again would we speak in clipped tones about the "surprise" soccer practice or missed dental appointment. And all without persistent verbal reminders from me. Either one of us could create an event and invite the other to it. Finally, a solution for eight out of ten of our marital disputes.
The first thing I did -- after filling in the requisite parent-teacher conferences and basketball games -- was invite my husband to: Sex, Tuesday, 6:30 am. I received his response right away. He declined. Then the phone rang. However, I was busy scheduling good intentions into all those rectangles, so my husband left a message with our daughter. She handed me the note, written in her childish scrawl:
Dad says that's not funny. He could get fired for that.
This did not bode well for the new system. If I couldn't get my husband to pay attention to such an inviting appointment, what chance did I have with morning carpool?
I've had a thing for calendars since I was a 20-year-old bank teller with my first At-A-Glance. It showed a full month in square-inch boxes, few of which actually had anything written in them. I like calendars so much that I keep them. Deep in the back of my closet are chronological records dating back to 1991. If some future descendant ever wants to reconstruct my life, he or she could plot the highlights: met my husband, graduated college, got married, had a baby, had another baby, etc. through the scribbled evidence of my days. These boxes may someday provide valuable insights about life at the turn of the century. Right there on December 31, 1999 it reads: Y2K Semiahmoo. A party at the end of the world. Except that the plans I had in the weeks following came to pass. The apocalypse did not arrive as promised. Instead, I got a haircut and went to a pre-natal appointment.
I'm a little sad I won't have those physical mementos anymore, but I'm not going back. Much as I love paper, you can't access a 8 ½ x 11 spiral bound calendar from a smart phone. My attachment to seeing the whole month on one page held me back for years. It hurt my back to carry a stone-age calendar around in my bag. I envied friends who whipped out their phones to schedule appointments. Online calendars are the over-committed woman's crack pipe, and I loved mine from my first hit. The high-tech convenience enables -- no, encourages -- the tendency to over-schedule by making every obligation fit so easily and efficiently among the others.
My husband liked his new calendar too, but the longer we used our new toys, the clearer it became that being on the same electronic page did not help to synchronize our schedules. Immediately after inviting him to sex I added all my trips to his electronic calendar. Together, we reviewed a print copy to identify any potential conflicts or gaps in childcare coverage. With highlighted boxes and multiple email alerts in place, we were golden.
Not so fast, Execu-Mom.
A few months later my husband "just now remembered" a very important trip he had scheduled "a long time ago." With complete disregard for my carefully crafted minute-by-minute timetable, he had planned this trip without consulting his digital calendar or the handy paper backup. When he suddenly recalled this critical trip that could not be rearranged, I remained calm. As did he. My outer peace was an intentional strategy to resist the strong urge to solve the problem for him, after I stabbed him with a highlighter.
His serenity was based in blind faith.
"My parents can come up," he said.
This is his go-to answer for all childcare, home improvement and pet sitting needs. Never mind that his parents, with a combined age of 163, maintain a fully loaded bridge and travel schedule of their own and live five hours away by car. Surely they would drop everything to pack up the fish oil capsules and merlot and race off to babysit the grandkids. I did not ask my husband if he would make actual requests for definite dates, and then record those dates in a systematic way, such as on a calendar. To do so would have displayed a lack of faith in him.
He said he'd take care of it and I trusted him to do so.
A week before our coinciding trips, feeling guilty about missing my daughter's only band concert of the year, I reassured her that her grandparents would be there to watch her.
"They don't get to see you do this kind of thing very often. It's special."
My husband was in earshot.
"Hey, um..." he said, "have you... um.... talked to my mom at all?"
He started to scratch his head, just like his father does when he's frustrated. "Are they coming up next week?"
Oh, the things I did to him in my mind, things right out of a Mexican soap opera.
Which brings us back to sex, and those handy invitations. For all my love of a good planner, and all my lists and matrices, I never thought I'd become someone who put sex on a calendar. Sure, the invitation started as a joke, but seeing the words there on my screen so official and certain in a business-like font has its merits.
If only I can get my husband to accept my invitations.
This is an excerpt from Lela Davidson's award-winning, best-selling essay collection, Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?