My husband and I have been married for 10 years. In those 10 years, we've learned that relationships take a lot of work. A lot of CONSTANT work. We are always working on our communication, always trying to remember to be considerate of each others feelings and trying to avoid the ruts we've fallen into in the past. Sometimes are aren't very successful and have to work even harder on getting our relationship back on track. We continually work on this together as a team.
While I've come to realize that our marriage will always be a work in progress, I never realized the same principles apply to parenthood.
I've been a mom for almost 4 years and this weekend it hit me like a ton of bricks that The Preschooler and I are in a rut. For quite some time now, his contentious antics and my inability to handle it with patience and grace has caused a rift between us. Being a parent is so much more difficult than being married because as a parent, you are essentially working on this relationship alone.
After a weekend of constant battling and button pushing, my husband ordered that The Preschooler and I go out to a movie together for some quality bonding time alone. He stated that since The Baby has been born almost 10 months ago, The Preschooler and I have not spent any special time together. This dose of reality made me feel like a completely crappy mom. Here we had been stuck in the rut of day to day routines, spending every hour of the day together, and it never occurred to me that we were drifting apart. But we were. We are. He's not even 4 years old yet and it's a heartbreaking level of awareness to see where we are.
So away we went. We went to a movie together where I didn't reprimand him for getting up and down from his seat a million times (only when he tried to pick up crap from the floor). I didn't limit the amount of popcorn he ate and we sat together enjoying his movie about dinosaurs. We went to the toy store afterward and I bought him a new Matchbox car. It was a few hours without having to raise my voice, repeat myself or threaten time-out. It was refreshing and fun.
We came back home and within minutes were right back to where we started before our movie date. My heart sank.
This is when I was cognizant of the perpetual effort it's going to take on my part. Much like in my marriage where at one time we forced each other to sit down at night and have a conversation, it's going to take the same kind of work to shorten the gap in our parent/child relationship. And I have to do this alone, without expecting any change on his part, but hope that my redirection influences a positive change from him as well (like better listen skills and being more respectful).
Who knew that dates aren't just for married couples.
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