Monday, May 21, 2012

Dates With the Kids

Holding Lizzy for the first time

Growing up my parents would take us out on date nights every few months.  There was this one restaurant that my mom would take me to, Holly By Golly, that I loved.  The booths were extra tall with a bar for your feet.  We got all the free buttery, salty popcorn that we wanted.  Mom would let me get a pop with free refills.  We would sit and talk and just enjoy being together.  Sometimes we would talk about serious things, sometimes we just joked around.  But my siblings and I always loved when it was our turn for date night.

A year ago I was really struggling with my relationship with Lizzy.  She was in that "yucky stage" that all of my kids seem to have (are in the middle of) going through--age 5-6.  The stage where they realize that they have a will of their own and a desire to be independent from mom.  Where they think they can do whatever they want but lack the wisdom to go along with that desire.  I thought it was a fluke when David went through this stage, but then Lizzy did and now Joy is just starting to enter it.

So, Lizzy and me.  We had daily battles, days where I would look at Lizzy and wonder whose child she was because she surely couldn't be mine.  I wasn't raising brats, was I?  Days where Hubby would come home from work and I was completely exhausted and worn out and at the end of my rope because of putting up with Lizzy's attitude all day.  Moments when I would have to just walk away rather than scream at Lizzy the way I really wanted to.  Not one of my finer moments.

My mom suggested I spend some one-on-one time with Lizzy.  I probably looked at her like she was crazy because the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time with this child that was causing me to turn prematurely gray.  But my mom swears it worked with me when I was going through my own "yucky stage" in middle school, so I decided to give it a try.

I made an appointment and took Lizzy to get a manicure and then out for dinner.  I'm not sure if I have ever seen Lizzy so animated and happy.  She was a real sweetie the entire time.  We didn't talk about anything serious, we just laughed and had fun.  I can't say that Lizzy's behavior suddenly improved, but I can say that my view of Lizzy improved.

Before I was looking at her through tainted glasses.  All I saw were her actions that were annoying me.  I wasn't looking past that to see this child that is a part of me, this child that I love.  I was letting the messiness of Lizzy turn me off to wanting to be with her.

Fast forward to today.  I'm starting to notice Lizzy acting out again.  Being mean to her siblings.  Whining and crying more than usual.  Fighting me on just about anything and everything.  I have prayed for a few weeks about her attitude.  About what I could do to help her.  I had a few ideas that I've been working on--having her help me cook dinner, help me in the garden, things that put us together working.  That seems to be helping but not enough.  This morning I was praying and the idea to take Lizzy out on a date came to mind.  It's been a while.  But life is incredibly busy right now and I had no idea when I was going to be able to find the time.  I prayed that God would make an opportunity for me to be able to do this.

Not five minutes later Hubby comes into the living room and tells me he's sick, that he's calling in to work today so he can watch David.  Joy is at an all day field trip with her school so I don't have to pick her up at lunch time like usual.  I am taking Lizzy out today.  I don't know what we're going to do yet, it doesn't really even matter.  It's just spending time with her that's important.  To remind me how much I love Lizzy.  To remind Lizzy how much I love her.

I know that taking our kids out on regular dates is vital to a good relationship.  Hubby took David on a boys camping trip this past weekend.  I will plan to take Joy out in the near future so she has her special time.  It doesn't matter what we do or what we talk about.  It's just important that we spend time together.

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