Dear Husband, I Need More Help
Heartstrings

Dear Husband, I Need More Help

written by Celeste

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.

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?

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.

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.

 

mom2

 

Celeste is a writer, a storyteller, and a marketing professional, and shares parenting tips, life hacks, and her favorite stories on this crazy journey called parenting. Follow her adventures and learn about The Ultimate Mom Challenge™ at And What a Mom.

7 comments

  1. A Tired Mom
    Reply

    Thanks for this. It’s me everyday. I’m tearing up just reading it because it’s my life. I love my children and my husband but I need more from him. Thanks for giving us a voice.

  2. Gillian
    Reply

    I used to feel like this when I had my first baby, and was occasionally angry that my hubby didn’t voluntarily do much to help. But while I do understand and even share the sentiment of this article, I would ask that people please do not spend a lot of precious time complaining at your baby-daddy when you could just look at him and realise how truly lucky you are to have someone in your life with you, being there.

    Just after we had our second baby, he died. I feel like I’m drowning most of the time, knowing there really is no one else to get the toddler ready in the morning, no one else to change every nappy, no possibility of an hour to myself unless I simply do resort to TV-babysitter (and I do). Once the kids are in bed, I look at my messy lounge and kitchen, take a great big sigh and get stuck in.

    Then I remember how, even though I wish there was more help, I would gladly do it all myself, if only he was there with me. I think he didn’t do much, but the truth is, he really did. He gave me love, support, appreciation.

    Be gentle with him. You really truly don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

    Love

    Gillian, Hazel (2) and Holly (1)

  3. Nancy Sawicki
    Reply

    GREAT article! And YES, it takes two to make things work, and NO, you shouldn’t have to ask your spouse for help.

  4. Joyful_2010
    Reply

    Thank you for articulating what so many of us need to say. Bless you!

  5. Live from the Playroom
    Reply

    This is a constant struggle. We both work full time, but I’m working full time at home too. He puts in work at home too… But it’s not close to my load.

    We fight about this a lot… Because he doesn’t see the gap. And well, it sucks. And I’m tired.

  6. A Denver Mom
    Reply

    I love this article and everything you say. I am right there in the trenches with you. I have had a rough couple years adding my third and most active boy to our lives. My issue is that when I have been at my ropes end and I ask my husband for help he talks about how stressful work is and he can’t handle the boys, so I muck through it. He has a regular job and also runs a business from home. I stay at home with the boys and I wanted a big family so I definitely feel it’s my “job” and that I don’t “deserve” time off. When I try to explain to my husband who works so hard for our family that I can’t be on 24/7 and would love a few hours to myself per week it ends in a row of who works harder, who does more, etc. It is frustrating for sure. In everything else, we work really well together. I’m trying to figure out how to make his life easier and make him feel appreciated, not just as the money maker (it’s the home business that takes its toll because there is no off-time, but we need that income because I stay home), but at the same time state that I need these few hours out of the house alone. He says I can go out with friends or to a class, but then ends up making me feel guilty with all the heavy sighing and “what am I going to do with them? or what am I going to feed them?” questions when it’s time for me to leave. His dad was not involved in child care and neither was mine. I definitely knew I wasn’t getting into a relationship where childcare would be divided 50/50, but it’s definitely hard to lose some of the me-time. I know he is trying to get better, he no longer texts me when the baby is crying and I’m out. Ha. Such a fine line we walk and difficult trying to get what we need in this stage of child dependency. Thank you for an article that articulates many of my feelings. Perhaps this will open another conversation in which we can both state our needs a little more clearly.

  7. MELISSA D.
    Reply

    Oh my gosh!! I love this!! I struggle with voicing my needs to my husband for fear of rejection or making him to feel that what he does isn’t enough. I have a 5 year old now & a baby on the way. Managing one has been relatively easy, while maintaining a full time teaching career & managing a household. Did you really tell your husband all of these things? If so, how did he take it?

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