I think there is a sensor in all of us that asks "am I getting the best of you or the leftovers?" When husband comes home looking haggard, the wife and children can sense that he has burned through his "best" at work. When mom stares back at husband with glazed eyes, he can sense that she has spent her best energy (with or without results) on the kids. And, when the kids are getting rave remarks at school and coming home to unleash their angst, parents get the feeling that they are getting the leftovers of the child's pleasantness.
Why do we give our best to people we don't have to see on the weekends? Why do we give that ration of pleasantness, connection and cooperation to people who aren't going to worry about our future and our present needs? What triggers this irrational behavior/desire?
What if we budgeted our energy out to all of the areas of our life that deserve some of the best of us? Or how do we turn around that spent feeling and mentality when we are around the people who love us the most? How do we budget our effort so that we never have to say "I have no more to give." That sounds so despondent and hopeless...
What about giving our emotions boundaries? Like if it's Mother's Day, we will use restraint and give an extra amount of grace to the mothers in our lives? Or the same for Father's Day, for that one day, lay down your reservations toward your father and strive to find new appreciation.
When my Father died last month, I had some residual epiphanies land in my consciousness. Perhaps my memory is not completely accurate, but to the best of my ability- I cannot remember my parents fighting over the way they parented me. And I believe that really helped me to feel secure in how they were raising me, I knew that most of their parenting was in my best interests just based on the fact that they were in agreement. Also- I remember the marital complaining only to be one sided; I don't remember my father ever bad mouthing my mother to me in her absence. And I am thankful to have that realization. Those two things my parents never stuffed in my face, but after years and years, I realized two more things that they did right. Not to say they were perfect; but is it really fair to expect perfection out of anyone?
As I put my efforts into marriage and parenting with reading and studying, I wonder: did my parents read marriage books together? What did they do that led them to be so faithful in those two areas that many parents these days struggle with? I know my father traveled a lot, so I doubt they had much time to read together.
Perhaps we don't have the energy to give our best to our families when we come back together each day. But, perhaps this is the best time to "cherry pick" through the things we like best about my loved ones and let that fuel the time together. Memories seem to give us instant rapport and good energy. To an adoptee like me, I relish all of the good memories I have because I know what a loss if feels to lose them. Memories are as sacred as the way people who are born and pass away. They are held in the mind and the visceral, and once they are lost- they can never be repeated or accessed again.
So- if we can't perfectly give our best to our families all the time, let's do our best to "cherry pick" our attitude towards one another and let that fuel the rest of our days together. We still have the weekends and holidays...