This one's for the husbands
The reality of Motherhood
Every once in a while, I crumble.
Usually it’s nothing catastrophic that sets me off, but more of a series of unfortunate events that leads to my collapse. A broken glass in the morning, followed by a two person nap-strike, then a toddler tantrum before school pickup and finally having to ask, “Please put your shoes away” seven or eight times before going out of my ever-loving mind. Other days it’s a coffee spill (read: near death experience), a diaper explosion that goes above the armpits, coupled with goldfish crackers mashed into the carpet and sharpie covering the floor under the table.
In and of themselves, these things are not a big deal. They’re actually pretty trivial, but when they happen day after day and week after week, it adds up. It can feel exhausting and overwhelming, and when I feel tired or overwhelmed, I feel it BIG TIME. I avoid the feelings for so long that by the time I finally make eye-contact with them, I can dodge them no longer and they come running at me horror movie-style, at full-force and ready to attack like some crazyperson.
When I finally feel the weight of the life we are living, I realize that I’ve been treading water for longer than I had anticipated. The thing about treading water is that it’s not difficult at first. Legs keep moving and head stays above the water and all’s good. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not that hard. It’s just the same motions over and over. And over. And over. And then, reality hits - this can’t be done forever. Fatigue sets in. At first it’s just the start of a cramp here or swallowing a bit of water there, but before too long the pain gets worse, waves seem bigger and panic starts. Thoughts of hopelessness start to creep in and an idea that was once impressed so firmly is now starting to dissolve. This cannot continue. Something needs to change. And every so often, this is how I feel about motherhood.
The need for escape
Exactly one week ago I was sitting in a hotel room by myself eating lunch and watching “Worst cooks in America” on the Food Network. I had slept in until 10am, listened to some music, journaled and eaten breakfast in peace and quiet. I had spent 24 hours alone and felt more refreshed and rested than I had in years. I had no one to care for, no questions to answer and no needs to meet other than my own, and it was glorious. “Wait, she was by herself? Doesn’t she have four kids?” you’re asking yourself. Yes, I do. But I also have a great husband.
A week prior to my escape, I had been talking with Seth and I had asked him about getting out of the city for a long weekend. We had escaped the city in August to Lake George and when we came home to Brooklyn, we decided that a quarterly family getaway was important to us. I expected him to suggest that we plan something for February or March, but instead he said, “What would you think about going away by yourself for a couple of days?”
I entertained the thought for a minute, but was quickly interrupted by a child that needed to be fed or fight that needed to be seen to. But the next day, he mentioned it again. “So, how about next week? Or the week after?”. It was starting to sink in that maybe he was actually serious about this, and I started to get excited. I looked and looked for a getaway that was perfect, and never felt a good, solid “YES!” about any of the options that I had found, so I texted a friend and she recommended the ideal spot. Days later, Seth was driving me North and dropping me off in the middle of the Hudson Valley with only a small suitcase and my journal, goal planner and a couple of notebooks.
It doesn’t take a superhero.
Seth is not a hero. Yes, he is without a doubt, 100%, absolutely MY hero, but he doesn’t have super patience or super strength. He doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head or a go-go-gadget arm. He’s just a normal dad who did an extraordinary thing for his tired wife. Taking care of our four kids for two days while I was away did not qualify him for hero status - that’s something that any dad could and SHOULD be doing for his wife. He’s a hero because he’s involved enough on a DAILY basis to know how to handle these boys while he was flying solo.
I don’t want to downplay how amazing my husband is. He’s thoughtful, involved, fun, hard working, generous, loving and kind. My point is that it wasn’t easy for him to send me away for a couple of days. In fact, let’s get real for a second, it was HARD. Yet despite knowing how tough it could potentially be, he willingly did it. Happily, even. He got up with the boys, did breakfast, got them all dressed, made lunches and snacks, loaded them into the van, dropped Hudson and Wy off at school...and that’s all before 8:30. There were also dishes done (because a dishwasher is a novelty here in Brooklyn), butts wiped, laundry folded, dinner cooked, messes cleaned, games played and books read. He didn’t just do the bare minimum, he did everything that the boys needed and more. It was challenging and exhausting, but he sacrificed his own comfort, sleep, solitude and relaxation so that I could go away and come back refreshed and ready to step back into “normal life” with joy and a renewed sense of purpose. Seth had cared for me, and I had cared for myself and now I was ready to care for my boys.
So Mommies, do yourself a favor and cozy up on the couch with your man. Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, ask him about his day and then tell him how you feel. Share all the things. Share about being exhausted, overwhelmed, not knowing how to parent (because that’s a real thing) and the struggle that motherhood can be. It’s no-ones fault that these feelings exist, it’s just the way of life when there are tiny kids at home, and THAT’S OKAY. It’s also okay to realize when you need to step back and recharge. That should be a priority because it’s for everyone’s benefit.
Also, husbands...don't hate me. Just do it.