Tonight Ted and I talked about what we need to do to model in our interactions the sorts of things we’re asking for from Hazel, and attempting to teach her.
When Hazel gets upset, she has a strong tendency to go first to blame and accusation. We’ve been trying to guide her to say, instead, how she’s feeling and what she wants. So Ted and I agreed tonight to start explicitly doing the same thing ourselves. So, when I’m mad about something he said, I need to say (for example), “I’m getting into a reactive place. I’m mad that you started talking about yourself when I was telling you about how I was feeling, and I want you to acknowledge what I’ve said about me before you start talking about you.” Then, Ted can decide whether or not he’s ready to respond to that or not, and if he’s not, he can just say he wants to respond later. In the meantime, I will have taken care of myself by saying what I think happened and how I feel about it, and I will know that he’ll get back to me later (if he’s not ready to respond in the moment), and that can help me release some of the urgency and difficulty in my emotional state.
This is much better than an explicit or implicit statement that he f**ked up, and I am blaming him for how I feel. That is something we both do, though my statements tend to be explicit and his tend to be implicit. It’s all the same pattern, and I’m glad that we’re both willing to work on improving it.
Relationships are hard. I am glad, though, that the addition of children to our family is, ultimately, going to help us to get better at managing ours, even if it has also added a rather impressively thick layer of complication and stress.
One step at a time.
Meantime, all of us but Ted are sick. Today when I took the twins out in the stroller so I could run an errand, they fell asleep. Miraculously, they also napped some more, an hour and a half later. I napped too, still feeling pretty zapped by this cold. Tomorrow is a work day, because I’m doing a bunch of makeup lessons. By the time the night off enabled by the babysitter rolls around, I will be very ready for it.
Tonight I went over to meet up with Ted and Hazel, who were walking home from her friend D’s house. She saw me and starting running toward me, calling, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” so happily. I caught her up in a big hug. That was wonderful.
I’m grateful for my kids.