I went into this weekend feeling like I wanted to focus on repairing our family. We've gotten so far off track, we were living a sort of parallel existences, in the same small living space, but so separate. Eating together was, still is, rare. Being in the same room without arguments, yelling and tears, has also been rare. Little glimpses of harmony, like our car trip to Southern California in August, made the typical daily grind all the more frustrating because I knew what things could be like.
But we have to find our way back, or how are my kids ever going to be able to function in an intimate family dynamic? Family meals with conversation, game nights with some laughter, mellow outings just for fun . . . these things have to coexist with the arguments so that the kids know it's normal to disagree, to get angry, and then to reconnect, make up, love each other and move on. Let some things go, by keeping perspective. We don't always get our way. And that's OK.
I've been trying to make everyone feel like they could get their own way whenever possible. Meal choices, activity choices, separate from each other to avoid conflict (which it didn't anyway!). Now I'm remembering and tuning in to the concept that I can make a unilateral decision for the good of all, or at least in my estimation, and be the parent. Or put another way, they're not always going to be happy with my decisions. Oh well. They need the lesson in that. You don't always get what you want, and you can still participate and have a good time, or even do something just so someone else has a good time. That feels good, to do something for someone else.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and we won't become the ideal healthy family in a day. Not that I'm expecting ideal, but a closer version than we have now. So this weekend I settled for another round of communal housecleaning (rotating core list with an expanded set of responsibilities) on Saturday morning and sitting down to Sunday dinner at the same time and place.
I really wanted to take the kids for a fun outing, and had made tentative plans for whale watching, but the weather didn't cooperate, which was just as well. Neither Lily or her brother was all that interested in whale watching, and I realized I was creating more pressure than anyone needed. We need more normal, low key. We don't really need a forced fun event. Special events will happen, but rushing that is a mistake.
So I think the goal of feeling more normal is good. Our new life has been termed the new normal by our local NAMI chapter. I understand it's beneficial to lower expectations when you're in crisis. But I threw out all my expectations, and that's going too far. I'm claiming some of them again. It's good to shoot for a higher level of functioning. We will do this, one day at a time.