My husband got a job that took him away for just under two months – just two weeks after my son had open heart surgery, just days after both kids started at a new school, and while I was supposed to be finalizing my Hand in Hand certification and launching my second business.
I was thrilled for him. But I was scared for me.
He left and I did pretty well. Except I found it harder to play, which made it harder on both my kids and myself. My stress level was higher and there was less time because I had to do EVERYTHING. No family, no babysitter, no backup at all.
I knew that I needed more Listening time but could not figure out how to get it!
By the time I put the kids in bed, I passed out each night so I could get up at 5 am and start over. (These games are easy fun if you feel Too Tired to Play)
And then there was the traffic!
We live in LA, and there was a day that I had to drive the dog 30 minutes to a place that could watch her since I was going to be out for ten hours. Then 45 minutes in the opposite direction to drop the kids off at school. Then on the way to work, the car broke down!
I went to the service place a half hour away. They told me I needed a rental. I had to be driven to get it in a shuttle. Finally, I got the rental, just in time to be late to pick the kids up from school, which was now another 45 minute drive. Then we had to go get the dog, now one and a half hours away given it was rush hour.
We got the dog, got home and I somehow got everyone fed and in bed.
Ready to Quit!
But when my husband called that night to say hello and connect, all I could do was cry.
My husband and I are almost never listening partners. I just don’t find that we are able to hear each other lose it without instinctually worrying about the health and welfare of our family.
But this time I asked him if we could have some Listening time and he said yes.
I started by telling him all the minute details of my day and then screamed “I QUIT!!”
This felt glorious!
I said, “I am not driving tomorrow! I refuse! In fact, I am not even parenting. I totally give up. I don’t even care that we have kids. I don’t know who is going to take care of them because it is NOT going to be me. I am DONE.”
This made me laugh. Of course it was preposterous and obviously I was going to take care of my kids. There was no one BUT me!
But it felt so good to fantasize about walking away.
The ridiculousness of it just tickled my funny bone.
My husband spoke then, and I heard him. I heard all about his job, and also how hard it was for him to hear me struggle because it made it hard for him to enjoy his experience there without feeling guilty.
By the time we both got off the phone I was feeling so much better! We both knew I would be fine and that helped him feel better too. I went straight back to parenting the very next day, and I was more playful and with a lighter feeling in my bones.
In that listening partnership with my husband, I had shed some of the loneliness and difficulty of parenting alone, and I also had more of an appreciation of what my husband was going through as well.
The last month and a half went by so much easier than that first week!
Why it Works:
Kids are fantastic at tantrums, which are one of the best outlets for letting pent up feelings loose. Grown ups aren't quite to good at this skill – we've been taught to keep our feelings in! In tamping down, we find ourselves exploding in anger, frustration, or tears often at the wrong times and in front of the wrong people.
In a listening partnership, you have a safe space to rant. Your listener knows that these are things that you are thinking, wishing or dreaming about, and they know you are working through those feelings to be the best parent you can be. Letting the feelings out gets them free, and leaves you to get on with parenting feeling lighter, brighter, and feeling heard. Listening Partnerships are the ultimate way to reduce stress and induce calm.
Find out how to get started in a listening partnership in The One Basic Secret of Reducing Your Parenting Stress
Read this post to discover Five Ways To Ward Off Your Parenting Anger