Yesterday we fought in front of the kids. It was awful. I'm still mortified. And not just because we were yelling at each other in front of the kids, oh no, the windows were open too. Classy!
It was hardly the biggest, longest, scariest fight we've ever had. The raised-voice portion was relatively short and we reached the Time To Discuss What We're REALLY Upset About portion relatively quickly. If I were analyzing this argument from a family counseling standpoint I'd have to hand out a couple of gold stars to everyone involved. Look at us expertly avoiding the Usual Traps! This was a good fight! Well, except for the whole part where our kids were RIGHT THERE.
Fortunately for everyone they found other things to do besides watching the spectacle. They played in Jack's room and the living room while we snapped at each other in the kitchen, and every so often they'd dash into the kitchen and assess the damage. At one point Jack said, "Daddy, don't be mean to Mommy!" When he said this I burst out laughing - which was annoying, because I was ANGRY! - but it just seemed so silly. Daddy wasn't being mean to Mommy; Mommy just can't wait to "discuss" something until a Proper Moment!
Yeah, it was my fault. I needed to Address Something right that minute. Before anything else could distract me. While my brain was full of thinking about it. Shockingly my husband did not immediately capitulate to my demand! Shockingly I did not let it go! We really are two gloriously stubborn people, and once we're In It we are IN IT. The kids at that point are reduced to Innocent Bystanders
It's just... it's not a very proud moment. You're already in a bad place, and what if your kid starts leaping off the furniture or pulling the toilet paper all the way downstairs or hangs on your leg whining for a snack? What then? If you can fairly and charitably deal with a small person's drama while simultaneously carrying on a fraught-with-danger conversation with your spouse, you're a better person than I. We didn't just have to apologize to each other, the kids needed a few apologies too.
I was trying to think if we've done this before - I remember having a blow up in the car, turning around and going home, and setting up the kids in front of the television so we could camp in our bedroom and Have It Out. Obviously that wasn't great parenting either, but they were younger, less aware and we found a way to remove them while still engaged in the argument. This time was just flat out Mommy and Daddy Fail.
Thankfully we're more the types to have a standoff until two in the morning. We hardly even get to talk to each other until the kids are in bed anyway - there's no opportunity to start an argument! I say that because I am the person I am, someone who doesn't wait to confront. I'd rather talk than stew. But it appears I need to learn to take a few stewing hits for the sake of the kids. Even though everything's fine, we all kissed and made up, we spoiled them at bedtime with hugs and twice as many stories and extra cuddles, Mommy and Daddy barking at each other over the dinner dishes is not one of the memories I'm eager to make with them.