You wrote anonymously, this honest, painful, completely and totally relatable piece on how once, just ONCE, you would like someone to take care of you. You, the mama and wife who holds it all together. Who does all the doing for everyone else around you.
First of all, I get it. Oh, how I get it. I too am the planner, the bill-payer, the appointment maker, the one keeping track of my family of almost four and all of our various needs. So I totally get that it gets overwhelming, that sometimes you just wish someone else would do SOMETHING, do ANYTHING so you don’t have to do every damn thing yourself.
I can feel that resentment. I know it well.
I know other women are with you on this too. Take a look at all the comments from other women on what you’ve written! The AMENs and ME TOOs are abounding. Sometimes somebody will say something like “what, you expected being a mom and wife to be a walk in the park?” and we all want to tell that lady to shut the fuck up, because she is NOT helping.
But I also know something else.
You are not a damsel in distress doomed to spend your days doing it all for everyone else.
That’s sort of what we are taught. That’s sort of what is expected of us. That’s sort of how we feel like it is destined to be. But that’s not how it has to be.
Part of it is how our society works, what we reinforce, the stories we tell each other about how things should be. Part of our story as a mother and wife is that we are supposed to come last. We are supposed to give up it all for those we love. It’s a popular story, one passed down for so, so many generations. Certainly since biblical times. It hasn’t changed much.
But it is changing. It can change if we change, if we stop accepting that story as THE WAY it should be. Or the WAY IT WILL be for us.
You were given a voice. Look how beautifully you used it in your writing. Look how clear you can paint the picture of what life is like right now for you, how your story struck a chord with all these women. You wrote as “anonymous”. But I have a gentle, not-so-gentle suggestion.
Use. Your. Fucking. Voice.
You are teaching everyone around you how you should be treated.
And you can teach them that you do everything for everyone and need no help. It sounds like that is what you’ve taught them already. No thank you, I’ve got it all under control. Fellow control freak here – and I know. Its hard to let go. But if we don’t let go, how do we expect someone to help us?
You can teach them that it is your role to be exhausted and to do everything because otherwise it will never get done. But you are also teaching them you NEED to do everything, or it won’t get done. You are also teaching them – this is MY job, not yours. You are also teaching them – I don’t believe you can do it.
So if you don’t like how you are being treated, maybe its time to choose another way.
Maybe its time to use your voice.
Use it quiet and soft or use it loud and proud. But use it. Use it in baby steps like “I’m feeling overwhelmed. Could you help by making your own doctor’s appointment this week?” Or use it in assertive, bigger steps like “I am getting overwhelmed. I need some help. I need an afternoon alone where you watch the kids.”
Because I don’t know your husband – and it is possible you have married a man who has no interest in your mental or emotional health – this is possible – but I would hope this isn’t true. I would hope the man you married and started a family with wants you to be happy and healthy. Or at the very least would rather be around someone a little less overwhelmed. Have you ever had the pleasure of being around someone even more overwhelmed than you? Its not the most pleasant of situations.
Ask for what you need.
Its icky, sure. It feels pretty awful and stressful the first several hundred times you do it. In fact, sometimes it never feels great. But it feels better than resentment.
Give your husband a chance, give him some credit. It may feel painfully obvious that he SHOULD know how overwhelmed you are – and maybe he does – but maybe he doesn’t. Or doesn’t know how to help. I know it would be magical if he could just DO these things without making you use your voice to ask for them – isn’t that the dream? But that’s not the husband you have sweetheart. So your going to have to help him or resign yourself to hopelessness or some other plan C. You say you long for a day he will whisper “you stay in bed, I will take care of everything.” Does he know that? Have you ever mentioned this?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with having boundaries with your husband or your kids. Boundaries are healthy. Boundaries teach other people how to treat you. I aim to have my daughter growing up knowing that mommy is a person too. Mommy has needs too. I think its important for her to see mommy asking for and getting help when she needs it. I want my daughter to grow up seeing mommy has career aspirations, mommy has friends, mommy takes time to take a bubble bath and read a book. I want to teach her that mommy speaks up, and daddy respects that. That mommy and daddy take care of each other, not just mommy takes care of daddy.
I don’t want her growing up seeing mommy bleed herself dry and empty every single day, having that model as the one she grows up thinking she should follow.
But these things aren’t going to magically happen through our wishful thinking. Through sending our husbands dagger eyes with ESP messages saying DOOOOO SOOOMMMEEETTTHHHHIINNNNGGGGGGG. These things aren’t going to happen even if we write and vent and commiserate with our girlfriends. Don’t get me wrong – we need that too. We need our story to be heard and validated in a deep, deep way. But unless we do something about it, we will be venting the rest of our lives. And while a good venting session is therapeutic – I don’t want to spend my life living there.
We have to use our voices. We have to set up boundaries. And we have to take responsibility for our own health and happiness without wishing hoping and praying someone will do it for us. We have to teach people how to treat us.
I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish I could tell you that your husband should just KNOW better. That he should just BE better, and then he would be. I wish I didn’t have to tell you one more thing to be responsible for. But that’s the truth, sister.
Teach your family how to take care of you. It will be an amazing gift to you all.