Note: I wrote this blog 2 weeks ago while sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home. Upon arrival I was stricken with a terrible flu and I am only now crawling out of the hole! Much has happened since the post, but I thought I would share it anyway 🙂
I am sitting in the Montreal airport – BY MYSELF, sipping a latte and reflecting on the last few days. Thanks to the kindness (and may I add, courage) of Nanny who agreed to man the home front, Tim and I left on Saturday for 4 days in Montreal to visit with some friends. Originally, some other mutual friends from NYC were supposed to join us, but were unfortunately only able to join us for our final night. This was the first time since Kirby’s arrival that we went way for more than one night alone.
The weekend was a bit “unlucky”, starting with our friends being unable to join us as planned. The luck continued as one of our hosts was just getting over a bad virus, the weather was horrible – very cold and rainy the whole time we were there, and Tim and I ended up having one of our “deep talks”. I don’t know if this happens to other couples, but we have so little time for uninterrupted conversation, that we often end up “getting into it” in our rare occasions away alone together. This time it was a miscommunication about this phase in our lives.
Tim has struggled with the constant feelings of being needed, having so little time for himself, and being unable to do what he wants spontaneously. I struggle with this too, but it has been a bit easier for me as I have never been a spontaneous person. And I think I get to experience the pleasurable aspects of having children more often than he does by the nature of our schedules.
The problem lies when he wants to talk about finding this phase of life hard, how it is very difficult to have no personal time. I hear that he is miserable, wishes he had made different choices, and wants me to take on more of the work of home because it is too much for him. Let me be clear, what I hear is NOT what he is saying. The emotional story I create around what he is saying makes me hostile and defensive and he in turn feels angry that he can’t express his feelings. So while walking around in the rain this weekend with my husband, a beautiful thing happened. I remembered how often I am wrong when I predict his interpretation of a situation. We had enough time alone together to hash it all out, to be hostile and defensive and then understanding and empathetic. I remembered (after a while) to start listening and stop judging.
And here is what I learned. He feels torn in so many directions, just as I do. But unlike me, he doesn’t feel he can change much. In fact, he doesn’t want to. Although he feels torn, and finds this phase of life a struggle, he has accepted it. He is happy with it, he wouldn’t change it or make different decisions if he could. But he would like me to stop feeling like I have to fix it or interpret his difficulties as “miseries”. OK, I can do that. It is hard, because I am always optimistic that things can be changed. He disagrees, but he is happy with our lives. Secretly, I think I feel so happy with my life (most of the time), that I feel guilty if he doesn’t feel the same way. I don’t think that can change. BUT I guess that is ok too (remember: stop judging).
The other thing I learned? Well, I reconnected with several old friends and two couples we have known for a long time. Turns out, the situation is the same everywhere. We are all struggling, we are all happy, we are all blessed. The pulls of family, career, personal time is tearing all of us in many directions. So I guess Tim is correct. This is life at this stage: difficult but good. Acceptance will lead to peace, and as with all things, life will change and we will have to adjust again.
Thank you to our friends and our favorite city for a such a beautiful weekend in so many ways.