Dear Husband, I Need More Help

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Dear Husband,

I. Need. More. Help.

Last night was hard for you. I asked you to watch the baby so I could go to bed early.

The baby was crying. Wailing, really. I could hear him from upstairs and my stomach knotted from the sound, wondering if I should come down there and relieve you or just shut the door so I could get some desperately needed sleep. I chose the latter.

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You came into the room 20 minutes later, with the baby still frantically crying. You placed the baby in the bassinet and gently pushed the bassinet just a few inches closer to my side of the bed, a clear gesture that you were done watching him.

I wanted to scream at you. I wanted to launch an epic fight that very moment.

I had been watching the baby and the toddler all damn day. I was going to be waking up with the baby to feed him all damn night. The least you could do is hold him for a couple of hours in the evening to I can attempt to sleep.

Just a few hours of precious sleep. Is that too much to ask?

Part of me feels like a failure for even asking. I mean, you do help. You are an amazing father, and you do a great job with the kids. And besides, this should come easy to me, right? Motherly instincts, no? But I'm human, and I'm running on five hours of sleep and tired as hell. I need you.

I know we both watched our parents fulfill the typical mother-father roles growing up.

Both our mothers were the primary caretakers and our fathers were relatively hands off. They were excellent dads, but they weren’t expected to spend a significant amount of time changing diapers, feeding, caring, and tending to the kids.

Our mothers were the superwomen who maintained the family dynamics. Cooking, cleaning, and raising the children. Any help from dad was welcome, but unexpected.

I see us falling into these family dynamics more and more each day.

My responsibility to feed the family, keep the house clean, and take care of the kids is assumed, even as I return to work. I blame myself for most of it too. I have set the precedent that I can do it. And in truth I want to. No offense, but I’m not sure I want to know what a week’s worth of dinner would look like with you in charge.

I also see my friends and other moms doing it all, and doing it well. I know you see it, too. If they can manage it, and if our mothers did it so well for us, why can’t I?

I don’t know.

Maybe our friends are playing the part in public and secretly struggling.

Maybe our moms suffered in silence for years and now, thirty years later, they simply don’t remember how hard it really was. Or maybe, and this is something I berate myself over every single day, I’m just not as qualified for the job as everyone else.

And as much as I cringe just thinking it, I’m going to say it: I need more help.

Part of me feels like a failure for even asking. I mean, you do help. You are an amazing father, and you do a great job with the kids. And besides, this should come easy to me, right? Motherly instincts, no?

But I’m human, and I’m running on five hours of sleep and tired as hell. I need you.

In the morning, I need you to get our toddler ready so I can care for the baby and make everyone’s lunches and drink a cup of coffee. And no, getting the toddler ready does not mean plopping him in front of the TV. It means making sure he went potty, giving him some breakfast, seeing if he wants water, and packing his bag for school.

At night, I need an hour to decompress in bed knowing our toddler is asleep in his room and the baby is in your care. I know it’s hard to listen to the baby cry. Believe me, I know. But if I can watch and pacify the baby for the majority of the day, you can do it for an hour or two at night. Please. I need you.

On weekends, I need more breaks. Times where I can get out of the house by myself and feel like an individual.

Even if it’s just a walk around the block or a trip to the grocery store. And some days when I’ve scheduled swim class and play dates, and it seems like I’ve got it all under control, I need you to offer to lend me a hand. Or suggest I go lay down during the kids’ naptime. Or start putting away the dishes without me suggesting it. I need you.

Part of me feels like a failure for even asking. I mean, you do help. You are an amazing father, and you do a great job with the kids. And besides, this should come easy to me, right? Motherly instincts, no? But I'm human, and I'm running on five hours of sleep and tired as hell. I need you.

Lastly, I need to hear you’re grateful for all I do.

I want to know that you notice the laundry is done and a nice dinner has been prepared. I want to know you appreciate that I breastfeed at all hours and pump when I’m at work when it would be easier for me to formula feed.

I hope you notice that I never ask you to stay home from your networking events and sport activities. As the mom, it’s assumed I’ll be home all the time and always available to care for the kids while you’re out and I feed that assumption by, well, being home all the time.

I know it’s not how our parents did it, and I hate even asking. I wish I could do it all and make it look effortless.

And I wish I didn’t need kudos for doing things most people expect from a mom. But I’m waving a white flag and admitting I’m only human. I’m telling you how much I need you, and if I keep going at the pace I’ve been on, I will break. And that would hurt you, the kids, and our family.

Because, let’s face it: you need me, too.

This post was written by Celeste Yvonne at The Ultimate Mom Challenge

11 COMMENTS

  1. This. This is why my marriage and my life as a mom of 5 failed. I begged him at one point to Just. Pick. One. Kid. Just one, to help wash, prep for tmrw, dress and feed. I would gladly take care of the other 4. No go. And I failed and I left. I left them all to him. Ran away. And divorced him. Fell into a life of addiction and suicidal choices for the last 10 years. I’m still trying to pick up the pieces today.

      • Speak up, tell him everything. My husband didn’t help much at first but he does all kinds of things now. He unloads the dishwasher without being asked, does the kids laundry when he notices it filling up. He gets our older kid off to school every morning before goes to work so I, a stay at home mom btw, can sleep in as long as the toddler lets me. He plays board-games with our kids in the evenings when I need a break from them to watch hulu. He ambles by and give me back massages at least every other day (and I mean real ones that relax, I had to teach him how though). I had to teach him how to do all of it, but now I get to go on Mom’s nights out whenever I need to, I can spend a whole Saturday morning at yard sales if I want, I have even gone on a few weekend trips with my friends, one of them happened while our older kid was three and the younger one was only 10 months. Men can handle more than we give them credit for, they can be awesome and involved parents if we give them the chance. I went grocery shopping the other night before our now five-year-old’s birthday party, and I was fretting that I hadn’t got around to vacuuming for the weekend (the party was at a park) and I came home to find that he had gotten the kids to clean up all their toys and he had vacuumed the whole house and gotten them to bed on time with snacks and all. I don’t even worry when I go out, not a bit. I trust hm wholeheartedly as a partner and fellow parent that he will do what is best for the kids in every situation. When I tell my friends this stuff, they say I’m lucky, and maybe I am, but if I had tried to handle it all and never let him in, I’d still be struggling without a clue. You never know until you ask.

  2. This is so perfect for how I feel…almost like you read my mind. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Thank you ????

  3. I have trouble communicating with my husband so I sat down and wrote a letter as if I was talking to a therapist. I read it to him. His response was “Wow that sucks”
    My son is 5. The beginning was so hard. Today is hard. I commend the women who find a way to be heard.

  4. Very nicely written, encompasses how a lot of us moms feel. Just remember mommas, this too shall pass. It doesn’t stay like this forever. My baby and toddler are school aged now and it’s gets more manageable.

  5. As a father who is the sole provider that works 12 hour rotating shift work an hour drive each direction from home, I find this absurd. 50/50 Compromise is key and this article only presents half the equation.

  6. We are less efficient than the homemakers before us. We allow ourselves to be more distracted and less organized. Instead of resting, we engage in fake relaxation; getting into Facebook debates on our phones instead of taking a nap when the children nap. In the push for more individuality, we’ve become more dependent on others, simply because we can’t pull ourselves together. It’s possible, we just need to recognize the truth that we have gotten ourselves into this situation and it’s up to us to get ourselves out.

  7. This is why I am a stay home mom or a full time mom/ wife, so I can do all the things I need to do. I tried working full time and being a full time mom, it does not work! You can’t give 100% to everything. I do have the best husband but he works hard and deserves a nice calm home to come home too.

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