Friday night … it evokes images of after-work drinks at the pub … dinner with friends … going on a date …
Except when you’re a single mum with two kids playing in the local netball comp. Then Friday night is fingernail clipping and ponytail tying and cutting up half-time oranges and trying to find a park and a sausage sizzle for dinner and a game at 5.20pm then a loooooooong break and another game at 7pm then trudging back up an enormous hill to the car with a cooler bag on one shoulder and a puppy on the other …
(Well, except for the gaggle of netball mums who snuck off to watch 50 Shades of Grey at the open-air cinema last night instead … Nah, I think I preferred my sausage barbecued.)
Your night life changes A LOT in your 40s when you have young kids. Especially when you are separated and your custody days are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
I’m very bad at expressing how I really feel, but I finally pointed out to my ex last week the anti-social nature of my free nights. And I noted it might be nice for me to have the occasional Saturday night now he’s not working every weekend.
It’s an ironic conversation to have because when you’re married there technically aren’t any free nights. Well, not regular ones. So getting three set kid-free nights a week – whichever ones they are – is kinda novel.
And dating on those nights off is kinda novel too. Who da thunk I’d be doing that at age 47?
Going out as a couple rarely happened in my marriage. We’d go solo to most things to save on babysitting money. Looking back, it was one of the fatal flaws in the union. Going out and having fun TOGETHER is important.
When we were trying to save the marriage we started organising regular date nights, but I’d usually spoil them by having a sob at some point. Bit of a fun killer.
Also, by then we’d completely forgotten how to talk to each other about anything except the kids.
Another fatal flaw.
In the dying days, he tried to make me do something called “reflective listening.”
Dalmar Fisher, an Associate Professor at Boston College, developed a model for Reflective Listening that includes the following elements:
– Actively engaging in the conversation, by reducing or eliminating distractions of any kind to allow for paying full attention to the conversation at hand.
– Genuinely empathizing with the speaker’s point of view. This doesn’t mean agreeing with the speaker, just viewing things from his/her perspective. The listener encourages the person to speak freely, by being non judgmental and empathetic.
– Mirroring the mood of the speaker, reflecting the emotional state with words and nonverbal communication. This calls for the listener to quiet his mind and fully focus on the mood of the speaker. The mood will be apparent not just in the words used but in the tone of voice, in the posture and other nonverbal cues given by the speaker.The listener will look for congruence between words and mood.
– Summarizing what the speaker said, using the listener’s own words. This is different than paraphrasing, where words and phrases are moved around and replaced to mirror what the speaker said. The reflective listener recaps the message using his own words.
– Responding to the speaker’s specific point, without digressing to other subjects.
– Repeating the procedure for each subject, and switching the roles of speaker and listener, if necessary.
I was only told “the reflective listener recaps the message using his own words” bit. I should probably have looked the concept up, but I was to busy being annoyed by it … it gave me flashbacks to when kids used to repeat every word you said as verbal playground torture.
Gawd, I should have just gritted my teeth and tried it. Another fatal flaw in our marriage …
I’m rambling … that’s what happens when you finally get home on a Friday night, pour yourself a belated glass of semillon and plonk yourself in front of the computer …
What do YOUR Friday nights look like?
Song of the day: Redgum “Friday night”