Monday, January 23, 2012

date night

on saturday the wife and i went on a date.

the restaurant was mediocre (but not terrible). the process of getting ready, leaving the kids, and then journeying downtown was just a tad epic.

but the time we gave ourselves to remember what it was like when it was just the two of us, to reconnect, to reflect on the path we've taken, and to plan the days ahead - was not only worth the trouble, it was necessary.

we talked. we talked to each other and not at each other. we talked about the fact that we are not perfect people. we commiserated about the fact that we are not perfect parents. 

we agreed that it was just as important that our kids understand that our imperfections exist. 

we rag on them all the time about so many things. because we want them to be safe. because we want them to be good people. because we want them to be happy. 

but then too many times we get impatient. or we happen to be cranky or tired. we forget to really listen and pay attention to what our kids really need because we want something else for ourselves. because we're human too.

and that, right there, beyond don't carpe diem, is the lesson i want to continue to embrace as i raise my children. 

i am not a perfect person.

i won't ever claim to be a perfect mother.

but i am determined to share that part of my self with my children too. 

i already apologize to my children every time i overreact or do something outside of my own expectations. and so does the wife.

for so many reasons: so that they will learn how to apologize freely, on their own, when they make their own mistakes (someday). so that they can see that giving way to humility can strengthen their own sense of pride. so they'll know that making mistakes is part of growing up. and that growing up is a process. that growing up doesn't stop. 

that perfect doesn't exist.  

once i apologized to the boy for snapping at him because he was whining. he really wasn't misbehaving. he was impatient. and i didn't respond to his request. he's only nearly 3. he doesn't know what considerate looks like. and i'm 12X his age. it's my job to show him what considerate looks like. whatever the reason for my own brand of cranky, all the boy knows was that he asked for something and i then snapped. so he cried. hard. ashamed of myself, i hugged him and whispered an apology in his ear. i told him i was having a bad day and that i was grouchy. there was a beat. and then he said, "what happened, mommy?" which was enough to break my heart.

i answered him honestly: "i'm sorry son. sometimes i get cranky for no reason. just like you. it's not your fault. okay?" and then he nodded. i took a breath, and then we played together.

mothering, for me, has been a constant battle between reconciling the person that i am (the things i want for myself) and the mother i want to be. sharing some part of my own journey in self-awareness has given me permission to go easy on myself and show my children the respect they deserve.

and i fail. 

we fail our own expectations constantly. but all we can do is rally mindfulness and get better at patience and parenting, for our children, each other, and ourselves.

yes. these are the things we talked about on our first date night in 2012.


the wife returns to work next week. life as we know it, and as we've just gotten used to as a family, is going to change once again. this means cranky children and cranky parents for a little while. 

the best we can do is take each step one at a time and choose to recognize the gorgeous moments when they do happen.

and when we can no longer distinguish the gorgeous moments from the ugly ones, we are resolved to work together to change the situation and start again, with as much grace as we can.


for the record, there was a heck of a lot of ugly and gorgeous today. just 30 minutes ago. 

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