Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Several of my son’s friends come from divorced parents and he’s old enough now (9.5 yrs) to begin noticing the effects. We’ve had to discuss how he can’t see his friends as much because both parents must now work full-time and the friends have to spend every other weekend at different places, how this limits the free time each parent gets with the kids, etc.
That being said, let’s get to my real point. My husband and I are beginning to feel the effects of parenting on our marriage. You know, too much kid time and not enough grown up time. We rarely get to even sit beside each other on the couch! When we want to do something alone, like sit beside one another or have a private conversation in our bedroom, of course our kid wants to bust up in between us. So every now and then I’ll tell our son, “You don’t want mom and dad to end up divorced, right? We need some alone time.” Part of me feels like it isn’t right to say something to scare our son, but then again I don’t know how to relate it to a nine-year-old in a way that he 1) can understand that he HAS to let mom and dad have some time to maintain our bond and 2) lets us have it without drama on his part, turning the idea of alone time into just more parental stress and guilt. Advice?
P.S. We do get a babysitter, but after 12 years of parenting (we have an older child too), our monthly night out isn’t enough anymore and we can’t up the babysitting expense up right now. And we reeeealllllyyyy need to begin reconnecting as a couple. Help!
Listen, I don’t want to come down on you too hard here, because the truth of the matter is that most parents have said something to their kids that probably wasn’t APA approved. For instance, this one time, I told my five year old that I’d be his bestest friend in whole! wide! world! if he’d JUST PICK UP HIS GODFORSAKEN LEGOS. And we all know he’ll probably never be my best friend. I mean, I’m his mother. Plus, he’s not even old enough to be a designated driver.
That said, I want to be clear to you on this:
The part of you that feels bad for scaring your son with such a threat? LISTEN TO THAT PART.
Scaring or threatening children is never a good idea. Never. NEVER EVER. (Unless we’re talking about them dashing into the street to chase a ball, in which case, bring on the gory, terrifying details.)
The bottom line here is that it is not your child’s fault that you and your husband are having trouble finding time alone together. In fact, I’d say that puts you right in line with most families IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. It comes with parenthood, woman! Is it hard to find time alone with your husband? I’m sure it is. But that’s your challenge to struggle with and overcome; it’s most certainly not your son’s.
Kids are smart and they are sensitive to this type of thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he already senses that you’re resenting him for coming between your husband and you. I would strongly recommend you have a conversation with him (your husband included) and apologize for the remark. Explain to him that you are just having a rough time of things, and that sometimes even grownups make poor choices. It will hopefully put his mind at ease and also be a good learning experience for the lot of you.
In the meantime, girl, you need to get creative. Stay up late with your husband. Get up early. Take advantage of small moments to sneak upstairs for a quickie. Do whatever the hell works for you. And above all, be patient with the process, because it can take a while to adjust and find something that works. If it feels desperate, remind yourself that no marriage is without bumps (and in some cases potholes and sinkholes and earthquakes and the occasional echoing abyss) in the road. If it’s more than you can handle together, marriage counselors can be miracle workers.
Take a deep breath, pull yourself together, and go smother that little boy in some kisses.