It’s 12:45 in the morning and I’m awake. I’ve been chased out of the bed by the boy. Now I love the boy, very, very much. I would do anything for him.
Well, anything but let him climb into bed and chase me out.
Actually, even that, because here I am.
I’m told that we ought to make a rule that they can’t be in the bed, and lead them back to their own bed. And that sounds great in theory.
But at 12:45 in the morning? When you know it could lead to a full-on meltdown? And keep everyone awake for hours? And everyone is already tired? And the family situation is already complicated? And parenthood and child-rearing are amongst the most disruptive issues?
It doesn’t seem to be worth the risk, short term.
And yet it also seems to be one of the biggest generators of risk, long term.
I don’t know what to do, or what I prefer to do, much less what is right, objectively (if there is such a thing in this case) or even for us.
So here I am, awake at 12:45 in the morning. Not happy about it, but also not comfortable with doing anything else.
But at the very least, I can’t just lay there and be rolled over, clung to, and crowded around. My sleep night is just not about the kids. Even though I love the kids.
My “temporary daddyhood hormone levels” must have returned to normal at this point, because it’s no longer cute. I don’t feel all nurturing when it happens. I feel annoyed as hell.
— § —
Long term, we have to figure this out and set some boundaries if we are to find a new normal together as a family.
One very serious truth about our lives since we became parents is that they have been ruled—absolutely ruled—by children. Our relationship as spouses as well.
And that can’t happen.
Because kids are, by nature, hungry. It’s been encoded into their very genes by evolution. They will demand everything all the time and take whatever you don’t hold down.
As parents, it’s your job(s) to set the boundaries that protect the viability of the family and of its adults’ ability to function, precisely in the kids’ best interest(s).
Because otherwise, if you give “as much as you can” or “as much as they need,” they will grow up in a fractured family (if a family at all) with barely functioning, exhausted, emotionally drained, impoverished and unfulfilled adults.
— § —
I wrote a few days ago that I feel like my wife and I are a couple again.
It is repeatedly demonstrated to me that the biggest risk to the future of this state of affairs is the fact that we still have so little—so very, very little—space and time in which to act ad feel like a couple.
In this situation, we need to realize that whether we prefer to put the kids first or ourselves first, in fact the requirement is the same: we need to find a way to create and protect this space.
Because even if we “put the kids first,” what the kids need is a family and parents that love each other. This cannot happen if the parents don’t even have a space to have ten minutes of conversation with one another in a day.
One doesn’t like to be harsh. But I am increasingly feeling as though much, much more discipline and much, much stronger boundaries are needed. The kids need to be told that some of the emotional reserve and substrate in the house absolutely belongs to mom and dad and is not there for, or open to, the kids’ consumption or intrusion. Period.
Only not at 12:45 in the morning.