Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.
I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks. It is a crazy way to live.
Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.
Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.
Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.
So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:
- I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
- I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
- I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
- I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
- I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
- I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
- I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
- I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
- I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
- I give good hugs.
- I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
- I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
- I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.
And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.