Normal? How do you make peace with parenting regrets and sadness that they are getting bigger?
Sad: How do you make peace with anything?
That sounded bleaker than intended.
You sound normal to me. Parenthood is heartbreaking. You can’t be there for everything, can’t give them everything, can’t be everything, can’t go back to anything, all while you can’t get them anywhere fast enough (sleeping eight hours, potty-trained, capable of mind-wrappage around the concept of laundry hampers).
So you reconcile past and future, logic and contradictions, love and pain, pride and regret, whatever else, the way we all more or less try to: by having your sad moment, then summoning the good things and letting the demands of the moment carry you forward. Small children serve this last purpose particularly well, you may have noticed.
Meanwhile, “that door is not closed” — so you still have hormones roaming your arterial corridors like so many pro-baby lobbyists, yes? It might help to be mindful that our bodies can have their own, sometimes unwelcome agendas.
If sadness becomes a burden, then talk to your doctor. Otherwise, try reality-conscious reframing: Deep feelings are good, and tears are overflow feelings. Sometimes you just need to spill a few off.
Hi, Carolyn: Can you help me articulate the difference between a consequence and a threat? I said to my family recently about a weekly event that we all enjoy but for which I do most of the preparation: "For the last few weeks all of you have been late, and I feel like the effort I put in is unappreciated and it's disrespectful. If it happens again this week, I won't do the preparation for the following week. You'll have a week's notice and I'll help you all prepare, but I don't want to put in effort that isn't appreciated."
I was calm and logical and yet … I was told I was threatening and choosing to interpret their lateness as a sign of disrespect when it wasn't intended that way. I know their response involved guilt — they were all on time the next week. And I understand how they could see it as a threat. So what's the difference?
Anonymous: A threat is advance notice of the intent to punish or harm.
A consequence is the outcome of certain conditions.
You threatened a consequence. Understandably, it seems, since your family took you for granted.
I’d have advised something lighter and more concise: “Hey. I work hard at this. The least you ingrates can do is show up on time.” You still could have resigned as family drudge a few weeks later if the respect levels didn’t go up.
But since there are no do-overs, mine it for laughs at your own expense: “You bet it was a threat. Obey or feel my wrath.”