By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT
Gem has just taken our Okapis up to bed and I can not get the following words out of my head, “Not enough time.”
There is not enough time for my family.
There is not enough time for Gem to do all she needs/wants to do.
There is not enough time for me to hold a full-time job while building a business and still be the kind of father I want to be while trying to take care of my mental health at the same time.
But we can handle that. The problem is the lack of time is now affecting our Okapis.
There is not enough time in the day for our Okapis to go to school and still get enough time with Gem so they still feel safe and secure in their attachment to her. This is why she is taking them up to bed instead of me. To give them more time with her.
Of course, that means I get even less time with them. But, though I’m not sure she would admit this to me, we both believe if they are missing time with her and they are missing time with me, it is more important that they get time with her. So much of their sense of safety, sense of security, sense of connection, sense of self is based on their relationship with the woman who has spent literally almost all of their lives with them.
Now with school, Spanish class, gymnastics, and ballet, they don’t get enough of Mommy. Lucas, as a result we think, is having more nightmares, more anxiety about going to sleep at night, more anxiety about going to school and to gymnastics class by himself. It seems the flimsier his sense of connection to Gem is, the more afraid and anxious he feels.
I’d like to think his reaction is normal, though it is a bit frustrating because we know he can do it even when he stops trying. But it seems too early for our Okapis to begin feeling the pressure of time, the stress of time. What happened to childhood? What happened to their sense of freedom?
Maybe we’re doing too much. I’m not sure. We really want them to learn Spanish and the idea behind having them each take a class by themselves is to help foster a sense of self separate from the other and to give Gem some one-on-one time with the one who is not in class. We even thought that would help “make up” for the lack of time because of school. But maybe all we’re doing is adding stress – at least for Lucas. And this begs the question all parents of multiples worry about.
“What does it mean if he doesn’t have his own class and she does?”
What if we stopped taking him to his class, told him it was over and that we would enroll him in the next one (so he didn’t think he had “quit”)? Even though Dorit kept going to her class?
I don’t know. But I do feel like this is one of those parenting situations where it may be time to adjust our plan because it might be causing more trouble than the benefits we had hoped it would create.
I believe our Okapis – all Okapis – should be protected from the stress and strain of time for as long as possible. When they get older and really are forced to deal with that stress and strain, we’ll help them develop tools to deal with it, but I would like to postpone that for as long as possible. They’ll have a whole lifetime to deal with this challenge, there is no need to rush them into it.
I think this is an example of something we tried to help him is causing more harm than good. It’s time to cut our losses – and his – and adjust.