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as i gather my thoughts…

May 16, 2011

One of my biggest faults is my compulsive need to be right, as in correct, all the time.  Aka: I have a lot of pride and a dearth of humility.  I try to work on it, but, like most bad habits, it’s an ongoing process.

Recently (as in the past year or so), I’ve been revisiting pretty much every idea that I have held as “right” and scrutinizing it from every angle.  Most people do this when they are teenagers.  I refused to because I just wanted to be right and couldn’t bear the idea of being wrong, even if I was the only one who knew.  Whatever…I’m a late bloomer; true story.

Anyway, surprise, surprise, a lot of my ideals and beliefs hold water.  And a lot don’t.

One subject that I have come back to time and time again is how I want to raise my son.

I loved my childhood.  It was long, innocent, and absurdly sheltered.  I also hated my childhood.  It was long, innocent, and absurdly sheltered.

It left me with misinformation, a hard time dealing with basic adult issues, and beautiful memories.  Granted, I have a selective memory and will purposefully not remember the bad times.  Anyhow, I’m not writing a memoir here, just giving some background.

Seeing Spike grow up, I had this desperate feeling of wanting to preserve his childhood.  Suddenly the 16.5 years before he is legally an adult seems much too short a time to teach him and show him the world.  By the time he is seven or eight, or maybe even sooner, he will be starting to think about the big hows and whys.  And looking to his parents for answers.

Before he was born, HH and I decided that one thing we would both change about our childhoods is the fact that we saw our parents fight.  A lot.  We both knew that sickening feeling when you heard raised voices and anger between the two people you adored above all others.  We knew what it was like to hide in your room to avoid those sounds and yet they still crept in.  It shook the very pillars of our world.  Our parents love for each other was how we judged all other love.  There are no words to express the terror a child feels when that love is called into question.

We didn’t want Spike to go through that, so we made a pact not to fight in front of him or within earshot.  So far, we’ve failed almost everytime.  And I’ve felt miserable about it.  HH and I fight a normal amount.  We are both very stubborn and, since we have been together so long, we know each other’s triggers.  Misery loves company so it’s not hard to turn one of us having a bad day into both of us having a bad day.  We can be selfish like that :(.

I realized, after fighting about whether or not jackets should be hung up in the closet between every wear or wears that were serparated by at least six hours, that Spike was studying us a bit too intensely.  Instantly I felt the self-loathing of having allowed something ugly to enter my child’s life.  HH and I were standing apart, both pissed off that the other did not realize the absurdity of their position and Spike’s eyes were moving from one irritated voice to another.

Then I realized we had been given a gift.  There is no such thing as a relationship free from strife.  To hide it and pretend otherwise would be lying and deceiving our son.  If he never saw us fight I can only imagine how confused he would be when he first serious relationship came along.  Would he just give up after the first big argument, convinced that a couple truly in love would never fight?  Would he even know how to handle a partner who broke down in tears at certain words?  Would he understand that two people can completely believe their differing opinions are right and still work together for a common good?

Basically, it sucks to see your parents fight.  But, we have a chance to illustrate how you can fight within a relationship.  How you can be totally angry at another person, and still totally love them.  How you can admit to being wrong, how you ask forgiveness, how you learn to cope with different anger management styles.  We are his first teachers, if he doesn’t see these things exampled in our lives– where will he learn them?

Our challenge, as parents, is to find a way to argue that let’s us argue without the animosity (which, admittedly, we indulge in from time to time).  I’m not really sure how to do that besides setting down some guidelines for our fights (since we are still learning ourselves).  But, I’m no longer freaked out about Spike seeing us in the heat of an argument.  It actually just adds a whole new dimension to the way HH and I solve these dilemmas.

That’s by no means the biggest issue I have been grappling with lately, but it’s probably the easiest to come to terms with and to change my thinking about.  So I write about it :).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 16, 2011 6:29 pm

    I read somewhere that if you start a disagreement/fight in front of your child not to go and reconcile in “secret”. That the child needs to see the process of reconciliation and without it they can experience stress. So Hubby and I make a big effort to make up in front of Monkey. This way he can see that we love each other even if we disagree. Good post 🙂

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