Friday, May 21, 2010
Sometimes it's Better to Just Hang up the Phone
Yesterday was big, and it was hard on us...on all of us. Big Sprout celebrated a milestone birthday, and he never likes to have birthdays in the absence of his dad. It has been a longer stint with my husband gone, and both me and the kids are starting to show signs of wear. Littlest Sprout gets physically violent (mind you, she is four and half-laughing as she does it), but she will sprint across the room and tackle down her brother at his knees. He laughs too, but it is a very real attempt at getting out frustration and aggression. Big Sprout wears his emotions on his sleeve, and the birthdays he has had to spend without dad have often resulted in some loss of privilege. Yesterday was no exception, but the "trouble" he got himself in this year was at school. Middle Sprout quietly keeps things together while her bookend siblings are tearing things apart, and then when she has bottled enough, it comes out in champagne-cork popping fashion. I anticipate an emotion explosion sometime this weekend. Add to all of that the fatigue that spring brings, responsibilities that remain at work for me, and you have a perfectly disastrous recipe for a bad phone conversation.
Proud of myself, though. I think that I have identified that Middle Sprout and I deal with emotional stress in the same way. During the day, I put on an air of calm (tongue in cheek, because even yesterday I wasn't able to stay totally calm with the kids), and then when the kids are sleeping, my husband's voice is on the other end, and my walls drop, I pop the top. Last night, I made the other decision. Instead of staying on the phone too long, and letting my own little emotional volcano spew all over my husband, I abruptly ended the conversation and went to bed. I used to hold tightly to the idea that I should never go to bed if my marriage was in that angry place, and in the past I would have tried to draw out that frustration for much longer than necessary. I read recently though, that it is a myth that you should never go to bed angry. When you are so gosh dang tired, it makes no sense to try to fix things, and a morning perspective is often much clearer. Things do look better this morning, and I have every confidence that today's conversation will be much better.
I suppose it is a good thing that we all miss my husband that much, but the kids and I can cling to each other while he's gone. Sometimes I forget that he doesn't have someone on his end to cling to, and I'm glad I made the decision to get off the phone...he doesn't need the reminder that his absence is hard on us. He doesn't need to be the one fielding my frustration. When he is my only sounding board for emotional stress and then when the frustrations include him, I sound accusatory. I want to simply vent sometimes, and at least with my husband, he wants to then take what frustrates me and fix it. He can't fix this...so then he gets frustrated too. I just wrote myself to an epiphany... Note to self...either write out frustrations prior to a phone conversation, or call a good friend and tell her, "hey...I just want to talk and you need to do nothing more than listen", or if it's too late to call up a friend and/or I'm too tired to get a single letter down on paper...my next best solution is to just hang up the phone.