A few months back, I went through a bit of a personal rough patch.
As a work-from-home mom with a 3-year-old and a baby, I was feeling overwhelmed, unappreciated, and exhausted. I felt angry all the time and any little thing could set me off into a fit.
My poor husband and our kids suffered the brunt of it, and much as I tried, I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of my funk. I felt bitter about motherhood and the fact that the majority of the day-to-day tasks were falling on me.
De-crusting sandwiches and dicing bananas into impossibly small chunks, disciplining my daughter for the same thing 85 times a day, dealing with all the bodily fluids … basically all of those mundane and never-ending tasks that must be kept up fell on my shoulders. I spent what little free time I had feeling sorry for myself and bemoaning the fact that my husband had no clue what this was like for me.
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One night I broke down crying. I can’t really remember what set it off (probably nothing at all) but before I knew it I had dissolved into a heap of tears and was pouring my heart out to my husband.
He just sat there listening to what I had to say and comforting me. And when I was done, he reminded me, as he always does, of just how much he appreciates me and what a wonderful job he thinks I’m doing as a mother. But he said something else that changed everything.
He told me how sometimes I seem like I have things so “under control” that he doesn’t always realize that I’m struggling.
He said he would be more than happy to help wherever he could. He suggested that I start prioritizing me-time and making weekly dates with friends — he would take care of everything.
At the end of the conversation I felt like I could breathe again, having asked for what I truly needed. But I couldn’t help thinking about that small part of what he had said during our conversation: he didn’t realize I was struggling because I seem to always have it under control.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was probably more my fault than his that I felt so overwhelmed. Because truthfully, I’m kind of a control freak. Even though it’s not something I’ve ever said out loud, there’s a part of me (deep down) that believes when it comes to parenting, my way is the best way.
I’ve got a rhythm and routines and certain ways that my family does things and it all works pretty well most of the time. But the thing is … these kids aren’t just my kids. These kids are our kids.
Even though my husband is an amazing partner and father, I realized that I hadn’t really been giving him his own room to parent. I was micromanaging the smallest minutiae of our day and it often left no room for him. My husband is so capable and patient with our kids. It’s not that I didn’t trust him, I just had to learn to let go.
This was a huge realization for me.
And so I decided to take a deep breath, step back, and give him some space to parent his way. Sometimes the way my husband does things is the same way I would do them and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes his way is infinitely better than my way and I never would’ve known that if I hadn’t relinquished some control.
Stepping back and letting go of the idea that things must be done “my way” has honestly been the best thing I ever could have done for our family. My kids are having so much fun breaking some of the “rules” with Daddy, and I love that. I’m far too rigid sometimes, and I want my kids to see that spontaneity is fun and valuable and that you don’t always have to have an organized plan in life. My husband is developing a deeper bond with our kids because he’s helping them with more daily tasks and spending more one-on-one time with them while I go out with friends or run errands by myself.
And I’m feeling a lot more joy in parenting these days, because I truly feel like I have a partner in it. He was there the whole time, but once I got out of the way I was able to see it more clearly and appreciate all the wonderful value that he brings to our family.