Time off, gardening, parenting group, changing relationships

This morning during my time off I did laundry, stripped the bed, did a pile of dishes, and cleaned the kitchen counter. “Woo hoo!” I hear you say. And that list doesn’t ring bells of scintillating joy for me either. Nonetheless, while doing all these chores I was a) alone in the house, and b) listening to music. Not a bad way to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning. Nonetheless, I decided during this spree of domesticity that I’d rather have an evening off rather than a morning. There’s something about having an open-ended time frame that makes the time off more relaxing. So when we talked about it this afternoon, Ted and I decided that instead of Sunday morning I’ll take Friday evening off; Ted has Saturday evening off, and we can plan to get the kids down without dawdling on Sundays, and take some time to watch a movie or have a drink Sunday evening. That way we can spend the bulk of the weekend with the kids, and each of us can stay out late if we want to. The person with the kids can also have the evening off after he/she puts the kids to bed, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

When Ted got home with the kids from Hazel’s soccer class, I took the car and ran off to the nursery to buy a few more annuals and some potting soil. The patch of garden in front of our house is now a riot of color. Nothing else on our property is getting any attention, but it will, eventually. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the richness where we can sit and be surrounded by it.

This afternoon we led our parenting group. The topic for today was, “Emotional Challenges and Changes”. It was a good session. We actually wound up going half an hour over, because there was plenty to talk about. This evening I asked Ted if leading these groups brings anything up for him. One thing he’s noticed is that they wipe him out. He’s usually pretty done in Sunday evenings. I’m glad to be doing the group, but we’ll also enjoy getting the time back when it’s over, I’m sure.

One thing that occurred to me during the meeting was that there’s a similarity between the changes you undergo in your partnership when you have kids, and those that happen in your relationship with your first-born after you have your second (or second and third) kids. The relationship is altered forever. One of the reasons why I find it so important to spend one-on-one time with Hazel is that without the presence of the twins it’s more possible to feel connected to the whole Hazel, the one who was my first baby and who I adored without reservation, stress, conflict, or challenge when she was a little one. It’s nice to have a more conscious memory of that time when I’m with her. It helps add to the positives, and helps me stay more gentle and patient. Also, when I’m not trying to respond to the needs of the many I can more easily respond to her wants and needs, and to my own, and to appreciate the complexity of the current moment.

Similarly, it is important for Ted and I to have time together without the kids. It’s easier for me to stay connected to him when we’re with them, given that he’s not a toddler, and therefore not whining, poking me, or asking for something seventeen times in a row. Nonetheless, being together just the two of us in a quieter space helps us move forward in our own relationship, and gives us an opportunity to talk about something other than diapers and soccer class.

Tonight I finished planting the red rose, and a bunch of the annuals I bought. Hazel helped by adding flower food to the soil, and putting soil in the holes. I should have let her help more: that is a lesson to remember for next time. I still struggle with wanting to control more than is useful.

Bedtime was pretty straightforward. There was even a very significant first, in that Joanna did not cry, did not even peep after I put her down in her bed. Emily squawked once, but that was it. Now if we can stick to our 10:45 pm bedtime, we might even get a reasonable night’s sleep!

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