Here’s the deal. Of course we love each other. We like each other even, but with Graham in kindergarten, things are different. It is quieter during the day, and it took some time to get into a new routine. We are getting to know each other better. I am glad we are still together, but things aren’t always great. We fight, we make up, there are tears, and hurt feelings. It’s not like in the beginning. When we couldn’t get enough of each other. Up all night, skin to skin, inseparable. Now? Now we are sleeping in different rooms. But what am I going to do? She’s three, and from my experience, and from what I hear from other moms of three-year-olds, this is how it goes.
Oh, you thought I was talking about The Doctor? No, no. Ours relationship has seen very few waves. My relationship with my kids, on the other hand, is ever changing. From the time they were babies, as soon as I was comfortable with anything-naps, potty training, food preferences-things would change. I was recently chatting with a friend, and she was commenting on how she’s struggling with her three-year-old daughter. The whining is getting to her, effective discipline tools are elusive, and there isn’t enough wine to make it bearable. I totally understand. While we were talking, my very own three-year-old daughter had thrown herself on the floor in tears over MY choice of gloves. She wanted me to wear my bulky ski gloves to wait outside for her brother’s bus, I opted for more weather appropriate knit gloves. I seriously don’t get her sometimes, and while her verbal skills are very good for her age, she’s still a preschooler and couldn’t explain to me why my glove choice mattered so much. Parents like to complain about their kids’ behavior, but what would the kids have to say if they had the advanced verbal skills to do so?
Mom: You never listen to me. When I tell you we are leaving in five minutes, that means wrap it up and get your shoes on.
Kid: Give me a chance to put my shoes on before you repeat your demand five times. I’ll get to it when I get to it. No one likes a nag. Besides, how am I supposed to have any concept of time? To you, “five minutes” can be anywhere from one to thirty minutes.
Mom: You don’t appreciate the things I do around here.
Kid: I would appreciate you making something for dinner I actually like. I’ve told you a million times that I don’t like onions, but you still put them in everything. Dad hates mushrooms, and you keep them out for him. What the hell, MOM?
Mom: All I’m asking is that you put your socks in the hamper, and put your clean clothes away.
Kid: Just because I didn’t put them exactly where you wanted them to go, like in the drawers, doesn’t mean they aren’t put away. Let me do it my way. I like my clothes on the floor in the corner. No comment on the socks thing.
Mom: Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking to Grandma. Why do you insist on talking to me when I’m on the phone?
Kid: You never listen to me. Why is Grandma more important than me?
Mom: I just want some alone time. Let me take a bath in peace.
Kid: I don’t get any alone time in the bath. Why should you?
Mom: Stop playing with your toys and come snuggle with me.
Kid: Put your computer away so I can sit on your lap.
Mom and Kid: I love you so much, but you make me crazy sometimes.
Like any relationship, the parent-child relationship takes work. Give and take, understanding, and empathy. And snuggles. Even when you aren’t in the mood. Wine helps.