Having started to see significant payoffs from the longer hours and more work being done outside the home, I’m grateful. However, I have also started feeling like I need a refresher course on being a family of three.
Either it’s me and my son, just me, or me and my husband. Obviously, the times when it’s just me are my working hours, and M is home with his dad. The three of us don’t actually spend a lot of time together as a cohesive unit. There are the occasional dinners, but even if we’re both physically present during the morning waking hours, one of us is often catching up on missed sleep from a late shift the night before.
My husband and I parent differently. Our parenting methods do align in philosophy and spirit, so it’s not a matter of disagreeing with how he handles tantrums, for example. It’s just that he’s him and I’m me. We’re different people with different backgrounds and different relationships with our son. We’re used to being one on one with the child, and there are certain strategies that don’t work when playing as a team.
When James steps up to quell the toddler rage, I find it very difficult to stay out of it. I think the same could be said for him. However, it only adds fuel to the fire for both of us to come at him from either side. Of course, staying out of it is not entirely an option since whoever is staying out of it at the moment is the one to whom M will always appeal.
Bed times have been frustrating. More frustrating when James is home than when he’s not. Because M decides he doesn’t have to do what I say if Daddy’s there. Though I have to give credit where credit is due, James always supports my authority and lets M know that he needs to listen to Mommy. I hate that we sometimes end such good days with such issues, like when he just runs and runs or screams to avoid the potty he so desperately and obviously needs to visit. Even after a great day, my patience wears thin. Though if I’m on my own with the boy, I seem to be able to tap into some secret hidden reserves. Knowing there’s no back-up or rescue squad around actually makes bedtime go more smoothly.
I love having James home and being awake enough to converse with him in the evenings after M goes to sleep. But I also find contentment when I’m going it alone. I love when the three of us get the chance to play together, even if it’s just a few quick laps around the living room or a quick tickle session before we eat. Sometimes, one or both or all three of us have had a bad day. Sometimes, something happens that tosses some unexpected stress into a great day. But I think that what our family time boils down to these days is just that there’s not enough of it to know how we all fit together. Our family dynamic differs depending on the day. We love each other and have a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but there are spots that need a little improving. These spots, though, are tricky and changeable, tough to pin down or define.
It helps to know that it won’t be this way forever. Soon enough, our circumstances will change. It’s not entirely clear exactly how just yet, but things are happening. We are paying our debts and chasing our dreams, and one of these days, we’ll have a new routine.