Marriage Therapy Part Deux- The Parenting
So, remember when we started therapy with an older, wisened therapist who seemed kind of quirky? We met with him again this week, and I swear to God, he said the EXACT same things in the EXACT same order. From the first "And what are we here today to discuss?" to the final, "So nice to meet you, Farrah, and Bob!" He remembered nothing about us and had no clue that we'd met (7 days) before. Maybe I should find comfort in the fact that our problems are banal and we are very, very forgettable, or maybe we need a new therapist. ;)
In the meantime, we went away on a romantical weekend and dug pretty deep into some of the cavities that have been infecting the molars of our marriage (I broke a filling recently, so we're doing teeth metaphors right now- if teeth make you gag, you might want to brace(s) yourself. The drive down the coast was meant to be all sunshine and ocean views, but even in the foggy, rainy weather, the 4 hours there and back, and the two nights in hotels touring the area, provided us plenty of uninterrupted Farrah and Bob time.
I cannot believe how much easier it is to relate when we can finish a fucking sentence. I am relaxed and fun and hot and nice when I don't have to be a mom. And the kid-free thing happens so rarely that I forget that I'm not always this neurotic, twitchy person full of "no's." I've forgotten me. And forgotten him. Us.
It was a dream just having these deep conversations, feeling this close to each other and free in ourselves, so it was jarring to come home and be inundated with questions about money and Youtube and other stressors that make me pant. I wish it weren't that way, and I was a jolly happy soul even when taking care of two little need bags, but I am just not. And after this weekend of giving each other and ourselves endless attention and care, I actually experienced some grief when we came back to parenting and I found that my emotional juice was all used up and I didn't have any resources left at the end of the day to deal with one more person (me OR my spouse). I suppose this is all better than it used to be-the kids are 8 and 11 now, allegedly a thin slice more independent than they were when they were babies and toddlers, and I'm learning boundaries....well, maybe an boundary, I haven't gotten that far- but I still find parenting overwhelming and personality-sucking. And that makes me sad.
Since remote schooling through the pandemic and moving across the country from everyone we know, we haven't had many experiences without the added pressures of parenting. This weekend we ate meals the kids would hate and went places they would have bitched about, and it was joyous to make our own decisions without having to consider them. We toured this fancy castle in the hills of central California. It was built in the 1920s but is decorated and furnished with stuff from the 1500s and 1600s from Europe. It was supremely cool and interesting. If the kids had been there, they would have tried to jump in the gold-plated swimming pool or licked a candelabra or something. I've long said that THE MOST fun and relaxing things without kids are the very LEAST peaceful with them; fancy restaurants, going to the theater, etc. I would normally say that baking is one of my go-to restoration activities, but last night I played prep-cook for my 8 y/o yesterday as they made banana bread and holy hell- them dropping the pan of bread dough upside down in the bottom of the oven was the LEAST stressful part of the whole experience- so now that's on the list of most fun/least fun with and without kids.
We're learning to give ourselves and each other grace, all the grace, even more grace than seems reasonable as we explore the expectations and assumptions we showed up to marriage/adulthood with and as we become more self-aware and generous. It's all going to take a hell of a lot of time and work as we reparent ourselves and simultaneously parent our children. We're optimistic the next counselor we find (it's easy and not awkward on these online programs to swap out for a new person if you don't click) will help us walk through this.