[Editor’s note: This story is a letter from a woman to her husband. While this is one example of one type of relationship, we understand, appreciate and celebrate that relationships come in all forms and configurations.]
Life as a mom is stressful. I worry a lot. I do even more. I don’t get enough breaks, and there are days when I feel like I am going to break.
You’ve heard me talk about mental overload of motherhood—for good reason. It absolutely exists. My brain is spinning from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep (and then usually into the night).
Okay, it’s 7:03am. 3 minutes late, that means I won’t be able to peel the apples before I put them…
“Honey, don’t forget it’s gym day at school, you have to wear your sneakers…”
…What was I thinking about? Oh shoot we didn’t get the dog his heart worm medicine yesterday. Okay, I’ll just pick it up on the way to dropping off the dry cleaning…
“No sweetie, you can’t use your brother’s toothbrush. Where is yours?… wait why is there a tomato in your bathroom drawer?” (#truestory)
Okay so I’ll pick up the medicine and drop off the dry cleaning and I wonder why my boss didn’t reply to that email I sent last week. Should I call to follow up? I’ll give it one more day. Oh don‘t forget to make the kids’ flu shot appointments…
“No baby, you can’t have a bowl of Flintstones Vitamins for breakfast…”
And so it goes. All day.
So much falls on my shoulders. The kids’ schedules, ‘making the magic’ of the holidays and birthdays, dropping what I’m doing when someone had their feeling hurt at school or is having an epic tantrum that only mommy can fix. Laundry. That’s all me.
But you have a mental overload too. And so much falls on your shoulders.
In so many ways, you are the unsung hero in our family. I get a lot of the “credit,” but you are just as integral—to the kids, to the house, to me.
We share it all. Just because mine looks different than yours, it doesn’t mean that my burden or stress is more valid. I want you to know, that I know.
Over the years, our career paths have ebbed and flowed and we’ve adjusted accordingly. After our youngest was born, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for awhile, and you had just started a job you loved. So we ebbed. You provided the income, I stayed home with kids.
I’d send you photos of our adventures to the farm or the park, and I know you really missed them.
Now, I’m back at work and my career is accelerating. So we flowed. You come home early to make dinner and take over with the kids, so I can do the work I love. When I work late (which is a lot) I come home to completed homework in backpacks, children tucked into bed, and a clean kitchen.
And sometimes when I’m working late in my office knowing I missed another bedtime, I really miss them.
We’ve learned to balance our strengths and weaknesses.
Yes, I make and keep all the medical appointments and ride in the ambulances when croup strikes again. But that’s because I am a midwife so I can calculate medication dosages and handle a medical emergency with total stoicism.
You, on the other hand, are the artist, with the most creative ideas I’ve ever seen. So you’re the one that builds elaborate forts and “alien dinosaurs” out of old cardboard , and encourages the kids to think outside the box.
Yes, I wrap all the presents and send the holiday cards—and I am fairly certain that Elf never would have found his way onto our shelf without me. But that’s because I LOVE it. Bringing holiday magic (aka glitter) into our house is my absolute favorite thing. So the holidays fall on me—but I suspect you’ve allowed that to be because you know how much joy it gives me.
You, on the other hand, love working out—not my specialty. So you’re the one that takes them to all their practices and teaches them fun ways to exercise, and is instilling the importance of a healthy lifestyle in them.
Yes, I am the first one that they cry out for when they have a bad dream, or when they are sick.
But you are the one first one I call when I am upset or sick.
I do more laundry. But up until very recently I have been convinced that we have some kind of magical garbage can gnome, because I have never once taken the garbage out—I’m starting to suspect it’s you.
I am the one who remembers the details. But you are the one that reminds me to ignore the details and look at the big picture.
So thank you, for being my true partner.
Thank you for all the things you do—the things I notice, and the things I assume mythical fairy tale creatures are handling.
Thank you for letting me vent and not dismissing it because you’re stressed too.
Thank you for letting me wrap all the presents, and never making me teach the kids how to do burpees.