A guest post by Amber Milne
We all wish for a simpler life today. But I’ve found that in reality, life just gets harder and harder the older you get.
When I was at college, and swamped by so much homework and projects and dissertations, I remember naively thinking “I just need a weekend to sort my life out”.
Then I got married and had children and when the novelty of having a baby had worn off and reality set in, when the sleep deprivation caught up with me, when the constant tiredness, exhaustion and irritability I felt got unbearable and I had a crying baby on my hands, I thought “When she’s older and on solids, it’ll get easier”.
When she turned 2 and hit those tantrums running, I thought “When she’s four or five, it’ll get easier”.
Now she’s almost 11 and it’s still not easier.
It’s harder. Much harder. And for the simple reason that I can no longer hide things from her. Like the constant bickering that my husband and I used to have, without realizing how our daughter perceived it.
You see kids grow up. I know this shouldn’t come as a surprise but there is a moment in most parent’s lives when they see that their child is no longer a tiny, little person who can be easily distracted by turning their attention to something else.
When kids are older, they know when you are trying to avoid a situation.
They know when you are trying to keep something from them or evading a question.
Like my daughter who now knows when my husband and I argue and she doesn’t like it.
So its no more a case of shouting at my husband to get my point across.
Now, I have to make sure I’m not upsetting my daughter.
You know when you’ve gone too far in an argument when she starts crying.
So you ask her what’s the matter.
“I don’t want you to get divorced”, she says sobbing her heart out.
And then you realize that kids take things to heart so much.
They hurt inside so much because they perceive the situation to be miles more worse than it actually is.
So here I am, not talking to my husband and giving him the silent treatment because he’s done something to annoy me, or I’ve done something to annoy him and being the two stubborn adults that we are, we refuse to kiss and make up and instead decide to pretend the other one is not there.
And while we’re going about doing our own silly thing, my daughter is hurting inside.
She watches us both intently.
She fears this is it.
We’re not being nice and we’re not talking to one another so we’re going to split up.
These are the things that are running through her head and this is the conclusion she has come to.
She’s not the two year old or the five year old that I can distract by reading a book or watching “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” with.
Nothing I do will take her mind off the row me and her dad are having.
Except to be the bigger person and to go and make-up with him.
Not because he’s right.
Not because I want to give in.
Not because I feel like it. I don’t.
But because by doing so, I will have made my daughter happy.
“See, we’re friends now”, I tell her.
“You’re not splitting up then?” she says hesitantly.
“Nope, of course not!”, I reply.
And then in that moment, I realize, the petty argument with her dad was so not worth it.
Whatever it was about, it can’t have been anything that significant.
Sometimes, it takes a child, albeit a 10 year old, to make you realize that some rows, whether over money, over not taking out the garbage, over not cleaning out the loft, all of these things are trivial. They’re not worth the negativity, shouting and screaming that ensues.
Especially if that shouting and screaming makes a little girl think her parents are going to split up.
Being bigger than your arguments means giving in sometimes and accepting that some things are probably not going to be the way you want them to be.
And that’s OK too.
In the moment that you accept this, life becomes somewhat lighter. As though a big burden has shifted off your shoulders.
And that’s a great thing to feel.
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