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October 25, 2010 / paperkids

The weight of words

Emma: are you still pissed at dad

Blame it on strong Irish tempers, blame it on money, blame it on autism, blame it on life, or as I like to do from time to time, blame it on Jared! For years and years we not only haven’t edited the things we’ve said in our home, but niether the things we’ve shouted out and screamed in a fit of anger. When Emma began communicating, we had a few “Uh-oh” moments when we’d thought of all the things we might have said in front of the kids. I always have known that they must have hated the fights, but rarely would Emma seem upset by it… and never could she shout back “Stop it!” as I’m sure she wanted to badly.
One night, we got into a pretty heated discuss – okay, it was a fight. I went over and sat down next to Emma with the iPad.
Me: “I’m sorry, Emma. Don’t worry, it’s fine. Everything’s fine.”
She reached out to the keyboard.
Emma: admit your mistakes

Me: “What do you mean, Emma?”
Emma: take responsibility for your actions

This was certainly not the reaction I was expecting. After all, I don’t make mistakes. It’s almost always Jared’s fault.  I was sure of it.

The other morning, after a particularly bad fight between Jared and I, we had this conversation when I held up the keyboard.
Me: “I’m really sorry about last night Emma. I hate fighting like that in front of you guys.”
Emma: get a divorce
Me:  “What?! Why would you say that? I know we say really mean things sometimes, but sometimes there is just a lot of stress and it has nothing to do with you. We love each other and you and Hayden.  I’m really sorry.  I guess we all have bad days. What if we stop fighting? Would you still want us to get a divorce then?”
Emma: no
Me: “Well then, we’ll never fight again, okay?”

I know that it may seem like a completely impossible promise to keep, but we’re really trying to take this to heart and think twice about the things we say to each other. We’ve always been reckless with our words – carelessly throwing them everywhere with no regard for who might get crushed in the process.  Not considering the kids…much less each other.   And it’s so not cool in that “Sid and Nancy” kind of way anymore – not that it ever was.  It’s easy to point out all the things that aren’t working right.  It seems like when it comes to marriage, I sometimes stop looking “on the bright side” of things.   Jared is one of the most giving, funny, and intelligent people I’ve ever known.  And he is a wonderful father and husband.  We have been through many ups and downs as all couples do.  I guess it’s easy to be consumed by stress and blame the person that’s closest to you. But it’s hard to take words back once you say them.  Is it too late to make up for the past?  Is it ever really possible?  I’m starting to see the impact of those moments. Emma has made me think differently about the weight of words.

To be honest, this wasn’t a post I was planning on doing, but Emma has once again inspired me.  The other day, which happened to be the day after the big fight,  I asked her if she had any ideas  what we could do a blog post about.

Emma:  about not fighting

Me:  “Really?  Are you sure you’d want to share that with everyone?….  But what message do you want to share with the people reading it?”

Emma: to try really hard not to fight in front of the kids

Me:  “Okay, Emma.”  Naturally I was feeling hesitant. But then I thought, why not.   “I will.”

Talk about airing your dirty laundry.  I guess either you all can relate….or you may look at us a little differently.  Judge away!  I am not a perfect person, much less a perfect wife, and am being reminded lately that I’m definitely not a perfect parent.  But hopefully it’s never  too late to discover and grow.  Maybe we’re all just a work in progress.  For all I might have taught her over the years, I am certainly learning a lot from Emma.



Leave a Comment
  1. not supergirl / Oct 25 2010 10:28 pm

    Ah, me too. I have two girls (ages 9 and 7), and all too often I forget that they are listening when my husband and I argue.

    Emma, I’m going to try to do a better job at this, too.

    All my best to you,
    a stranger in Iowa

  2. Rachael / Oct 25 2010 10:39 pm

    Sometimes my husband and I have arguments in front of the kids. It’s definitely something we try not to do though, we have realized that our 4 year old has an incredible memory. Even if it seems like he’s not paying attention, he will sometimes bring something up much later and surprise us.

  3. gloria cassidy / Oct 26 2010 2:06 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I love you.

  4. Grandma / Oct 26 2010 3:02 am

    When I was a girl, the same age as Emma, my parents fought. I would listen because their rancor woke me up. I listened vigilantly for the sound of their voices to change, hoping to hear the laughter which told me that the anger was resolving. Sometimes it did not. When it hurt the most was when they would ask me to choose. Choose who was right. I could never, ever choose.
    I loved them both, dearly, and wanted them to be happy. I wondered if I had caused it.
    Later in life, I got a little help to sort some things out that reminded me of those moments.
    I applaud your willingness to review and make different choices about what matters, your willingness to be brave.
    Have courage.
    Love to you.

  5. Lynn States / Oct 26 2010 9:54 am

    I love you all so very much! (I’m not sure that statement relates to this blog entry; just felt like telling you.)

  6. molly / Oct 26 2010 4:36 pm

    Put a smile on your face! One beautiful day at a time! Some truths may seem ugly at first, but God makes all things beautiful in His time. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, so trust and obey. love always! Mol

  7. Jeanne / Oct 27 2010 6:19 am

    Yes, thanks for sharing this. What a beautiful little girl! You have a beautiful family . I applaud your honesty and openess because you, sweetie are not alone. Your child has spoken, and you have listened and are doing something about it. That’s what makes a wonderful parent! Keep the faith and you and your family will be just fine.

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