Mattress Buddies

That’s what SJ and I have been calling each other for the last few days. Actually, he came up with the name. I like it. So, I’ve been repeating it.

Mattress Buddies

SJ & Me: Mattress Buddies

Last week, I had an idea. I asked SJ if he wanted to have a campout. We would blow up the inflatable mattress and put it in the basement. I knew he would enjoy this.

SJ had asked many times if he could play on the mattress. And no matter how nicely he asked, he got the same answer. NO!

He said he would sleep later if someone else was in the bed. I wonder if this need will lead to issues when he reaches his upper teens. Great. Another worry.

Anyway, the blowup mattress had many benefits. SJ would be happy and my wife would have a shot at sleeping later.  Thinking of others – aren’t I swell!

Filling up mattress

SJ filling up the mattress

However, I haven’t told you the whole story.

I’ve been yelling at SJ – a lot. He’s darn cute and can be very funny and sweet, but he pushes my buttons – even more than his brother.

After a day of school and talking to kids who don’t listen, are rude, and act disrespectfully, I am out of patience. I come home and want my children to behave. The last thing I want is more issues with kids.

So, I end up yelling.

I try to console myself. I play, read, talk, and do homework with my children. I am an active and engaged father. Anyway, everyone yells and gets frustrated. That’s life.

I know that’s true. But, something has been nagging at me. I know there has been too much yelling lately.

I raise my voice or make a sudden movement, and my kids flinch. And it makes me feel like shit! Am I so terrible? Such a beast?

I told my wife, and she said the boys are skiddish. I agree 100%. But still, they flinch. My own kids. It’s not like I beat them or am some raging lunatic. I feel like crap.

A fellow blogger, Penny at Authentic Life Journeys, wrote about her issues with yelling at her son. We have been following each other’s blogs for a while. So, I emailed her about the yelling thing.

After our conversation, I decided to sit down and talk to SJ about the yelling. I was nervous. I didn’t know how to approach him. After all, he is seven and happy-go-lucky. Could he talk about something serious?

I was also embarrassed.

Well, we spoke for a while and hugged each other at the end. I promised him that I would try and do better. He promised he would try to be more understanding and not push.

That was a month ago, and we have had discussions on the Sundays since.

“I think it was a little better,” he told me during our first follow-up meeting.

“Really, that’s it? Only a little?” I couldn’t hide my disappointment. That week, I tried to be extra patient and not yell. While I knew there were slip-ups, I thought the improvement was significant.

I would have to do better.

SJ and I have now had four such meetings. We talk privately about how we think the week went and how we communicated (obviously not his word).  One week he told me it was good, but we needed to talk more.

It wasn’t enough to just not yell. SJ wanted us to spend time together, and he felt comfortable saying that to me. This was progress.

Last week, SJ told me it was a good week. We talked and I was mostly patient. It was the happiest I ever felt after receiving a progress report.

Yelling happens.  I am not proud of it.  I know that there are better ways to express anger, frustration, and disappointment. I’m doing better. And I am determined to keep striving.

I am already seeing the benefits of my reduced yelling. SJ and I are in a better place.

I’m ecstatic to have my mattress buddy.

Mattress Buddy

My Mattress Buddy

Relationships – The Need to Communicate, the Desire to Change

Still trying to communicate after all these years

My wife and I – communication is the key

I believe in change. Don’t be frightened off – this is not another post about politics.

Anyway, I could not do my job if I did not believe in change.

But this is not about those challenging and occasionally likable high schoolers.

No, this is about relationships and marriage.

The other night my wife and I were having a discussion. Actually, it’s private. Yes, even bloggers hold some things back.

Anyway, in the middle of the discussion, it hit me. We had this same basic discussion about the same basic issue previously. I don’t mean last week, and it’s only coming up again because we are sleep deprived or have exhausted every non-child topic after nearly 12 years of marriage.

No, because in this case, my wife and I have not changed – at least not dramatically.

A little background.

When we first met, we went out a few times over a month, and then, I broke up with her. We met up again, by chance, a few weeks later, at some event and ended up walking home together. We had a discussion and decided to give it another try.

Six months later, we were serious. I had even brought her home to visit my family. This is definitely not something I made a habit of. I prefer asking questions to answering them. Anyway, afterwards, she told me she needed to pull back and think some things over.

A few months later we were engaged, and a few months later we were married.

And everything was perfect!

Yeah right. And life’s a Disney movie.

A couple of years into our marriage and after BR was born, we visited a therapist.

Each of these stoppages, etc. was really for the same issue.

So, while circumstances have changed – from getting to know you, to seriously involved, to parents etc. – the same issue was still there.

And I don’t think the issue is going to go away. Don’t fret. This is not the sweeps episode where something dramatic happens. No blood, tears, or loss of limb here.

Thankfully, my wife and I had a good discussion which left both of us more understanding of what the other is thinking/feeling.

Despite that, I don’t things will change dramatically. Yes, I know what I said earlier about how I believe in change. We each have some things about ourselves which we will always be working on throughout our lives. Some moments, days, years even, we will have more success and other times less. Life will continue to be busy and stressful, crazy and rushed. Stuff we can’t plan for or imagine will happen, and it will be easy to slip into old patterns. Intentional or not.

In a marriage, you can’t just shut down – you keep trying to make those changes. Really, it’s about communicating.

Just Can’t Cope Without My Soap

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

“Brit’s baby is Dante and Lulu’s,” said my wife’s email. The subject line read: I figured it out.

For those not in the know or the unaffiliated, Brit, Dante, and Lulu are characters from General Hospital. You know, “Just can’t cope without my soap, General Hospital.”

Now, I’d like to tell you I had no idea what my wife was talking about. However after a split second I knew just what my wife meant. And was surprised. I even emailed back – “Huh? How?”

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Give Me Back My Darn Email

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

I am not into Twitter. I am only quasi into Facebook.

However, I email regularly. I receive emails all day. It’s no exaggeration to say that I get over 100 emails a day. And that is my personal account.

Sure plenty of them, even the majority are junk emails. No, I don’t need a daily reminder of the sales at Hanes, Jos. A. Bank, and Lands End.

However, there are a number of emails that come through every day that matter. Business, personal. Whatever.

As you can gather, I have come to rely on my email very much.

And why not rely on email?

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