What a gloomy title for a post. And it jars a bit since I'm generally quite a positive person - negativity is Ethan's specialism.
in this case, every silver lining having a cloud really is the best way
of explaining the predicament I found myself in on Sunday. Sunday's a
funny day - it seems to be the setting for so many arguments between
Ethan and I.
Last Sunday, after church, Ethan was positively
personable! He was chatting away to all and sundry - and managing far
deeper conversations than I was (mainly about lighting or the latest
Apple apps - but then 'things' are generally what men talk about).
of the reason that Ethan was having such good, in-depth conversations
though, whilst I was, at best, managing a few distracted, disjointed
lines, was because Ethan was completely and utterly oblivious to
Our three children were all over the place - Ava
playing hide and seek with some other kids and weaving in and out of
all the old dears with their cups of tea, and Sam and Oliver alternating
between whining at me, fighting with each other and trying to make a
run for it out the main doors.
I tried a couple of times to make eye contact with Ethan, to plead with him for some help but he was engrossed - iPhone out, eyes down, mind elsewhere.
one point, when I got fed up of not being able to make any meaningful
connection with any grown-up myself, I put Ava in charge of keeping an
eye on Oliver and I actually focused, for a few minutes, on a
conversation (I say that I focused on a conversation, in actual fact I
spent the whole time wondering if Oliver was behaving and if Ava had got
distracted and was playing hide and seek again). After a few minutes I
thought I'd better just check...only too find Oliver trying to open the
door to the outside world and Ava being quizzed by an old lady. As I
stepped in and took Oliver away from the door I had to endure a telling
off from the old lady for being an irresponsible parent (she didn't use
those exact words but that's what she was implying).
Throughout the whole process, Ethan stayed completely absorbed in his conversation about technology.
felt stressed, badly-done-to, neglected and put upon. But at the same
time, Ethan was making conversation, he was being sociable and
connecting with others. And I was really torn - here's where the silver
lining and cloud come in. I tell him endlessly that he needs to make
more effort to be a friend, that he needs to put himself out there, that
he needs to initiate conversations. When he was doing this so well (the
people Ethan was conversing with seemed genuinely into the conversation
too) it seemed wrong to have a go...
But I couldn't help myself. I
was just too stressed not to. I'm sick of always being the one thinking
about everything and being responsible for the kids because Ethan
isn't. I'm sick of being judged by other people (usually old ladies)
about my parenting skills when I'm often trying to look after three kids
all aged 7 or under (and two of them boisterous boys) all on my own.
Excuse me for attempting to say hi to a couple of people after church
and build some relationships. What a terrible person I am.
I'd ranted a bit and cried a bit, Ethan and I reached a resolution.
Because Ethan's pretty good. He realises that being totally absorbed in
conversation for half an hour while I struggle on my own with the kids
isn't fair. But if he's going to chat and be sociable, he struggles to
do this whilst also keeping an eye on the kids. The conversation has to
engulf him for him to be able to focus on it and keep track of where
it's going. So we agreed that every Sunday before church, we'd divvy out
our kids! I'll be responsible for two of them after church and he'll be
responsible for the other.
Whether one child + conversation will
be too much for Ethan we'll have to wait and see. I expect that, at
some point, I'll see whichever child Ethan is responsible for running
riot and I'll have to step in. But, like with everything in our marriage, we'll keep trying to make it work.
A silver lining with a cloud is better than just cloud after all...