Lessons In Humility, Forgiveness, And Reconnecting
One of the many difficult parts of personal growth in the first years of parenthood is the recurring lessons in humility. When you are exhausted and drained by the continual challenges of our modern family life, you may find yourself yelling at your kids. I’m sure you never, never thought you’d be one of those parents. Yet, there you’ll be, yelling at a small child.
On one hand, you’ll feel angry and defiant. Justified. Then, you’ll step back and feel like a bullying jerk for yelling at a child who has no power in the hierarchy of their life. Here is where you step away, swallow your pride and righteous frustration, and come back to your kid with love and apologies.
“I’m sorry I yelled, sweetie. I love you very much. I love you even when I’m mad and frustrated. I wasn’t very patient, and I’m sorry I yelled.” It’s a good phrase to practice. It’s highly likely you’ll need it again.
You’re allowed to not be perfect. Forgive yourself your imperfection. Forgive your children their imperfection. The better you are at apologizing for your flaws, the better your children will become at apologizing for theirs. Swallow the pride, embrace the feeling of being humbled and allow yourself to grow from the whole messy process.
You’re going to have many opportunities to experience these feelings as your parenting becomes a mirror that reveals your oh-so-human imperfections.
It’s not just your kids who will aid you in this unsought quest for life lessons. Your partner is going to help you with this as well. Oh, goodie! As you journey through all this growth, and loss, and change, you may find things become difficult. You will want things to be easier. It would, of course, all be better if “he” would just do this. Or if “she’d” just do that! You may find yourself feeling that if your partner would do “something” it would all be okay.
Unfortunately, your partner is dealing with their own joyous journey of growth and development. They may not have a much to give right now. Besides, it’s not something they can rescue you from anyway.
Here’s where you forgive them for not being able to rescue you from challenging times. Here’s where you forgive them for feeling overwhelmed themselves, and not at their best. Here is where you dig deep, and look for the inner strength to reach out with compassion and support for your partner. Even when you don’t feel like you have anything left to give.
Because you’re a grown-up, and relationships are long journeys. And if you really think about those humbling moments, you might realize you need to ask forgiveness for a few failings too.
Sometime during the first few years of parenthood, you may find your relationship feels a bit drained. You love and appreciate your partner. You respect and care for them, but maybe the connection feels lost. Perhaps you will find yourself feeling lonely in the context of your marriage? Or angry? Or frustrated? Bored? Lost maybe?
Infants and toddlers really do demand so much of parents that many find their adult relationships feel diluted, scattered, and disconnected.
So, look for a book called, The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. It’s a short, easy read and offers great insight into how to re-establish feelings of love, connection, and intimacy in a relationship that’s feels empty.
If your marriage challenges seem too great, then imagine how much more complicated and challenging it will be if you divorce. Many parents go through a time of discontent with their love relationship. Don’t be afraid to focus some conscious attention on rebuilding and reconnecting.
Some time and money spent on marriage counseling can prove to be an excellent investment. Paying a sitter for a whole weekend so you can get away with your spouse? Way cheaper than divorce, and more fun too!
I’m not saying that divorce is never the best choice. My parents were divorced, and I don’t believe they should have stayed together even though they remained supportive friends.
The point I want to make, is that it’s not uncommon after kids are born to go through some years in which your love relationship seems to falter. When you can, try to come back around and fight for it.
Remember, it gets better. It’s just growing pains for grown-ups.