Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dear Mr. Stubbs (an open letter)

Dear Mr. Stubbs:

As I write this letter at 10 PM, my son is screaming. He's making wordless, tortured sounds like a wounded animal. We don't know what is wrong—he can't tell us—but we believe that he's disoriented because of the medication he takes in order to go to sleep. That's our best guess because this happens fairly often. The medication makes him fall asleep consistently, but some nights seem to be very hard on him.

I'm writing to you tonight because my husband Mike has mentioned that you and he don't see eye to eye on certain things, which is understandable, but he mentioned that you called him "selfish." Mike has many flaws along with many wonderful qualities; selfishness is not one of his flaws. Indeed, he is an extremely generous, selfless person. I would like help you, his supervisor, see what I see.

I understand that you have to make hundreds of decisions every day. While the decisions you make about scheduling and workloads often impact me directly, I understand that you have to make the best decisions based on many factors, and my family's health and happiness is only one of them.

Still, I want you to understand that when Mike advocates for his day to end as soon as he can make it end, he isn't just advocating for himself. He's advocating for me, because it's very difficult for one adult to cook and serve a meal to two non-verbal children, one of whom hates to sit down for a meal. He's advocating for his son, who gets anxious when his father gets home late, even though the only way he can express his anxiety is with screaming or hitting. He's advocating for his daughter, who adores playing with her father, and who sometimes gets sidelined when her brother's needs take too much of one parent's attention.

My son has stopped screaming now. It's 10:15 PM and it's finally quiet. We'll be heading to bed soon so that Mike can be up and ready to give his best to his job, as he does every day, before he comes home to give what's left to his family.

I don't expect this letter to change your decisions as a supervisor, but I hope that it will help you understand why you sometimes get pushback from Mike. He's not being selfish—he's just trying to give his family what we need.

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