I feel like this has been the theme running through my head lately. E and I have moved from the honeymoon stage, through a horrific grieving stage, and now have moved into what his therapist is calling “normalcy.” We have our daily ups and downs, but have basically found our steady baseline.
For me, this means that we’re no longer on our best behavior, and also that I’ve gotten used to him not being happy all the time, and reached the point where it doesn’t cause my anxiety to skyrocket if he’s upset with me. So that means I can say “no” for big matters and small, and be ok with the fact that often, he’s not going to like it.
I know this may sound like Parenting 101, and truly is not a revelation to me (I had my “ok with saying no” revelation when I was left alone with 16 three-and four-year olds on my third day as their assistant teacher at the ripe old age of 20). It’s just new in our relationship. I do try to say “yes” as much as possible, but I’m now totally fine with saying “no” to something for no better reason than because that’s what I decided.
I believe this is good for E, as well. I think his experience with parents has been on the two extremes. Either he had no structure whatsoever–no rules, no responsibility for chores, no supervision or limits–or he had very strict rules and no freedom or choices, and I think, harsh consequences for messing up. He’s never had this in between. So yeah, it’s going to take him time to get used to me asking him to empty the dishwasher and take a shower on a night when it means he’ll have no time to sit and play on his iPod and no, you can’t have a snack–even fruit–so close to bedtime. It’s going to take him a lot longer to realize that correction is not criticism and that I will love him even when he messes up