[Editor's note: This essay is written 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.]
My husband and I have been at this parenting thing for a little while now. We have three children ages 4.5, 2.5, and 1 who keep me very, very, very, very (okay you get it) busy. I also work from home and am typically the one who makes dinner and attempts to keep moods as happy and light as possible, etc. so my husband is aware of what my days often look like.
He knows I'm not just hanging around in my fancy robe lounging on the couch watching my shows eating bonbons while the kids entertain themselves. He knows I am hustling to the max to keep up with the chaotic life we lead.
BUT. Still. There are a few things I feel like I want to say to my husband when he walks through the door after a long day at work.
Even though I know he knows how hard it is to keep up with everything—especially when I am also working and also shuffling our kids off to different activities—I sometimes have the urge to defend myself from my own hang-ups. It's not like he even says anything or gives me any sort of look, I just find myself naturally wanting to launch into a list of things I accomplished that day to prove to myself that I am a productive member of this society.
1. “I know I am wearing your sweatpants and my non-fancy robe right now, but I did have real clothes on for at least two hours today.”
Seriously. You should have seen me! I was looking goooood. I was 'real person me.' Now, you get 'cozy me.' (She's pretty good too, I've gotta say.)
She has had a full day and her gratitude from seeing you, from having another adult around—her favorite adult—is next level. Some days, she may be tired and frustrated...but she is genuinely happy.
2. “I know it looks like the kids called all their friends over and threw a toddler rager in the living room, but they were just playing so nicely together, I wanted to keep that going.”
It's a straight-up disaster, I know—it hurts my eyes to look directly at it. And you are coming in from the outside world so, it probably burns your eyes, not just hurts them. But we have to practice independent clean up skills with our kids at some point, right? That's what I was aiming for…
3. “I know our dinner is kind of thrown together and sad, but I tried.”
There was A LOT going on at prepping-dinner-time (meltdowns, asking for TV shows, dirty diapers, refusals to bathe and the like). So, here's how I am looking at it—at least we have food to eat. There is food on the table and you're home and our family is together. We are lucky.
4. “I know my hair looks greasy and also like a rat has crawled into it and created a masterpiece of a frizzy, knotted nest—but that’s not what’s happening, I just haven’t showered in two days.”
Abstaining from showering is an expression of freedom… it's a sign of strength and resilience. And, let's be honest, also a sign of feeling overwhelmed with to-dos. I will now shower while you finish cleaning up the kitchen with the girls. Deal?
5. “I know it looks like we dumped all of the clothes that we own in front of the washer and dryer… but we didn’t. Some are still in our drawers. Promise.”
This means that this weekend we really should tackle weeding through all of our clothes to get rid of some stuff because we definitely shouldn't be able to make it through a full week of new outfits for five people without doing one load of laundry… soooo, let's add it to the list!
6. “We went to the park today and had a successful visit to the dentist and the kids helped me set the table. We did a lot!”
It may look like we didn't because the baby only has a diaper on (and it's likely dirty) and our middle kiddo is completely in the nude and our oldest has makeup all over her face—but seriously—we got it done today.
7. “What was your day like? Who did you see? Where did you go? Anything cool happen? What was your train ride like? Tell me about the world out there.”
I had a lot of conversations today. Conversations about why wipes are wet and why you have to put some food in the oven and you can't just eat it.
I talked a lot about food and snacks and candy and treats, actually. I talked about why we have to be kind and why we need sleep and why we have to go to school. I conversed with three children all day, and while most of it was wonderful, its really nice to talk about other things, too.
8. “We missed you today. And I’m exhausted. You’ve got bath time and bedtime, right?”
Like I said, I did things like go to the dentist with three tiny humans. I changed so many diapers. I prepared 1,000,000 meals. I begged people to get their clothes on—and keep them on. I did a conference call with a baby eating from my breast and a child painting makeup on my face.
So, I am going to shower. And do a face mask. And listen to a podcast. And get some self-care going up in this joint.
Love you, mean it.