Winter is depressing. It doesn’t seem to get better with time either. We can easily slide back into old habits of stubborn selfishness. Winter can also be lonely. For self-preservation we learn to detach emotionally. Especially because detaching is not sudden, it is that more dangerous. It erodes. It erodes trust, hope. If we still have our senses, we know it. We totally know it. And many-many of us experience it. With people we love. Friendships that drifted. Friends who are too busy. Spouses.
We have so many options to numb ourselves, especially with new apparently harmless but widespread ones. Facebook is my gateway drug to pass the time. For Conrad it’s video games on his iPhone. We got to talk about it yet again. Accountability can be a pain in the rear. But it is worth it, with sustained effort. We admitted our downtime tendencies to act as teenagers, in ways I never did as a teen, along with how it affects our being present, as spouses and parents. Later that night I wrote Conrad a note.
“…When I reached the bottom, I saw the light. Today we had yet another connecting talk, a steppingstone.
You took initiative and did the best you could, and that soothed me as well as your daughter. You connected with her, made a plan and did it in front of me as the best kind of promise to try harder. To delight in her more than correct her.
You were willing to be vulnerable. You were brave. I wanted to say you were not afraid. But I think the way you eventually responded took more courage to act despite the fear, of inadequacy, of shame.
My fear is that we could drift away, if we slowly disconnect emotionally by not trying anymore. We are spent, our attention is harassed by child rearing. And we escape into our devices (games and social apps). We numb the irritation and the tiredness. Then we believe we know each other all too well, that there isn’t mystery in our mind, our yearnings, or worse, we find each other’s interest and passions boring, tedious. But today you honored me by reading my last two posts. I write for you as well, you know! And I trust I make myself obscure while revealing new sides of me to you.
As a follow-up to our conversation yesterday, you have always believed that things will work out in this end. This faith, inexplicable as it might be, is what makes things click like in those satisfying youtube videos or a good movie where the good guy succeeded always, against all odds.
You have a fantastic outlook on life. It is why you have survived so far here, in Romania. We take each other and our resilience for granted. But I know it’s not easy. I sometimes closed a blind eye to the outrageous context, culture, traffic, I let it slide because otherwise it would crush me. I have a coping mechanism I reverted to since before I knew you. But your faith has served you well so far. You glide through madness. Political and social norms.
You’ve always been the better parent, the more fun, more patient, more understanding. More creative and approachable. And frankly when you get angry I resent it and I’m afraid we’ll both slide too far. So then I have to be the good cop.
But parenting is not about us. And when we both loose it, and we raise our voice, the one that has the most to loose is our girl. We are human, and to err us human, but we ought to try to do better every day. And when I correct you, or call you out, please understand it is because I still trust you would hear me. The moment I stop reaching out to you, that’s the one to worry about.
We will stumble and fall again, as parents, new challenges, new shortcomings. But I want to know and tell you that my heart is in it. So help me God. Whole and bruised and battered.
As we were talking and I felt we were drifting farther apart, I closed my eyes and I prayed that I would hear you, that I would truly see you and not focus on trying to make myself understood. That is what gave me the ability to remain present. And God answered in the moment with peace. But He also gave you the courage to pursue me beyond. And I am grateful. “