Yesterday we had our second family meeting. I was not prepared for the turn of events it would take when we started discussing sex and pregnancy. Both girls told me they want to go live with their dad and that was very hard to hear. There was a torrent of feelings running through me at the time. I managed to hold it together while we were talking, and then fell apart afterwards. My youngest sat on the chair looking glum so I asked her what was wrong. She said nothing, but then mentioned that she was hungry. When I was a kid I remember complaining that there was nothing to eat, and my mom telling me that there was rice, pasta, eggs, etc..., I still remember bitterly resenting her cheery voice and acting like my teen angst was a tempest in the proverbial teapot.
When I spoke to my daughter she said she didn't want to make anything. Then I asked her if she thought I did. She said no and I think it helped her to see that work is work no matter who does it. We settled on corn muffins and made them together. I steamed some vegetables, microwaved the three chicken tenders we had left, ate supper with her at the table, and then sat down to watch a movie with her. It was very hard to do that, many times I wanted to get up, leave, turn it off, suggest something else, or find another excuse that would remove me from the situation. It seemed like the movie would never end, but eventually it did. Sleep is still an issue, everything is the same, but we are talking with each other more. Everyone was free to speak and I'm proud of myself for that too.
Years ago I picked up The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, I had read some of the preliminary books and thought this would be the one book that united us and transformed our family, but read the first couple of pages that suggested we have family meetings, made a pathetic attempt to hold one, maybe two, gave up, and put the book back on my shelf. But when the author of The Secrets of Happy Families led with family meetings as one of the key things parents could do to improve communication and quality of relationships, I resolved to try it again. I'm so glad I did despite the emotional turmoil. Whatever else my children want to say about me, they will never be able to say that their mother avoided difficult topics of conversation. This is a small win, I'll take it.
P.S. I'm so incredibly tired I can't begin to describe it. My friend sent me some cool jobs so I'm going to look into those. Maybe I've been approaching this career thing the entirely wrong way. Food for thought if nothing else.