My daughter asked to bring her girlfriend with us overnight to Sonoma where we planned to spend one night in a hotel with a pool. Bringing an extra person would change the easy-going relaxation day I had planned, into something different. There would be scheduling issues to deal with: drop off’s, pick ups, coordinating with her parents, etc. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do and felt very agitated and resentful about the whole thing. Then I felt disappointed that I felt resentful. Ugh!
I took it to my listening partner. I poured out my resistance to having her friend join us on the one day I wanted to just relax. On the other hand, I loved it that the girls wanted to be together with me and out in the world doing something fun and different together. School would be starting soon, and they’d see much less of each other since they attend different schools.
“I don’t want to be old and boring and curmudgeonly”, I yelled out. “I want to be a fun mom. But I also just need time without so many people around, because I just need some easy-going stretches of time without conversation, or problem solving, or planning, or deciding, or compromising. I’m tired of dealing with kids, and clothes, and packing lists, and anything related to logistics! I just want to read by the pool and remind myself that I am still capable of relaxing and drifting off into a peaceful state of mind…and maybe even an innocent nap. I don’t want to have to think about one more kid, even if I love her very much.”
I went on and on. I had no idea how worn down in general I’d been feeling about parenting. Nothing was even wrong. I just had that, stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off-feeling.
Having that listening time to unload my feelings freed me to join the fun with “the girls.” The listening partnership improved my time with them. I could genuinely connect and enjoy, instead of withdrawing and feeling resentful.
Although it was still more work having an extra friend along, it was worth it. As we began the new school year, we felt full of friendships and happy memories.
-A Hand in Hand mother
Want to know how to make a listening partnership work for you? Check out Building a Listening Partnership: Easing the Stress of Parenting to learn how this tool can help you offload stress so you can be the parent you want to be.