Moms are busy. And it’s often on our busiest days that our houses get totally destroyed! Then our husbands come home from work and think, “What has she done all day?” without realizing how much effort it takes to just keep moving forward let alone get housework done. This made me think about what I would say to my husband if I needed to explain to him why my job is the hardest I’ve ever encountered and why a little support and respect go a long way!
I know when you come home and see the house in disarray, you think that I’ve done nothing all day. I’m sure it can seem that way when things are exactly the same as they were when you left this morning (or worse). I want you to understand something though. I did all I could today. It may not seem like much, but it was all I had to give.
I know you know this on some level, but my work day never ends. You may think that cooking, cleaning, and child rearing is a basic kind of job, but it’s actually the hardest job in the world. I challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. It takes 100% of my mental and physical energy to give our children all I have as a mother. I’m sleep deprived; I’m often lonely; I barely recognize myself, but I can’t allow that to affect them. I have to push forward. I can’t allow the endless tantrums, demands, crying, biting, vomit, dirty diapers, screaming, or out-and-out defiance to get to me either. I have to always be the best I can be regardless of the circumstances.
But I spend hours alone…at home…isolated. I’m with my favorite people in the world, but none of them can speak to me on an adult level. My conversations don’t surpass elementary level. My entire day feels like an endless wait for you to get home just so I can talk to you and tell you about my thoughts or opinions. I could go out you say. Meet a friend at the park. But then I’d have to actually get ready. I’d have to get kids ready. I’d have to peel myself out of the yoga pants I’ve been wearing for 3 straight days and notice that, once again, my jeans don’t fit the way they used to. None of my tops can hide my fuller figure. Most days I’m truly disgusted with who I’ve become. I can throw my hair back in a ponytail, but then it looks like I don’t care. But taking the time to actually DO something with it feels like a colossal chore. And for what? To have the baby pull on it and sneeze in it anyway. Then I have to fight with the kids about what to wear. “Not the pink pants,” she’ll say, “the princess dress!” “Not the blue shoes,” he’ll say, “the black ones!” We’d get to the park looking like a ragtag band of misfits. Most of the time it doesn’t feel worth the effort.
When you go out into the workforce, you meet new people. Your schedule changes, even if it’s only a little. Mine never does. Oftentimes I feel like I’m stuck in the movie Groundhog Day, replaying the same day on an endless loop, struggling to escape. The same chores pile up overnight even when I just took care of them yesterday. I just bought that gallon of milk and now half of it is puddled on the floor. No matter how many times I fix that broken shelf, the kids still climb on it and send it tumbling down again. There are only so many times I can fix it before it seems better off on the floor. You get lunch breaks and bathroom breaks and afternoon breaks. I get followed no matter where I go. Half my food is given to children who just finished eating. I am never have time alone.
Then there’s the mental struggle I deal with DAILY (sometimes hourly ) with comparison. With decision making. Should we give our children these shots? What are the risks? Will it affect them long-term if we co-sleep? Is it wrong to shower with my baby? Am I making enough milk to breastfeed? Why is Susie’s baby walking and talking already when my baby isn’t, and my baby is older than hers? Should I stop breastfeeding now that my baby is over a year old? Am I failing as a mother? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better? Why doesn’t this come easily to me like it seems to for everyone else?
If you have one baby, people will say you’re spoiling him. If you have more, people will say you’re crazy. My kids fight and scream and argue so they must be seeing that at home. My child is painfully shy so there must be something wrong with him. No matter what I do, I’m wrong, or someone out there is doing it better. It’s so hard to have faith in my parenting abilities. It’s so hard to trust my instincts when I feel like I can’t do anything right.
Every day I wonder if I’m teaching them enough. Every day I wonder if I’ve been a good example. Did I say no when I should have said yes? Did I say yes when I should have said no? Do they know how much I love them, or did they go to bed hating me because I lost my cool? I can’t believe I even did that! What is wrong with me?!
Cleaning is difficult with a screaming baby. Cooking anything more elaborate than a ham sandwich seems impossible while trying to break up sibling rivalries. No matter how many times I ask the kids to clean up their messes, I usually have to do it myself. And while I’m busy in the living room, the play room is being destroyed. When I ask them to clean the playroom, the same cycle continues. If I don’t want to fight all day, I have to let it go. But if I let it go, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.
I feel like I fail; I feel like giving up, but every morning I trudge forward because I love this job regardless of how difficult it is and regardless of how much it drains me. Sometimes I just need someone to come home and tell me that everything is going to be ok. Sometimes I just need someone to notice that I tried my best even if the dishes are piling up and there are toys all over the floor. Sometimes I just need someone to recognize that small gestures go a long way. Holding the baby while I take a shower is a gift. Cheerfully taking care of the children while I go grocery shopping is a gift. Telling me that our kids are amazing and I must be doing something right is a gift. That’s all I ask for. Just the understanding that you know how hard I work to maintain THIS level of insanity. If I let go, absolute chaos would ensue. I can’t express to you how close I feel to the edge some days.
I worry about you; I worry about bills; I worry about the future. I worry about how our kids will turn out. I worry that I’ve failed to live up to your expectations when you married me. When I stood up at that altar, I had the highest hopes for this life of ours. I sometimes worry that you don’t think it’s worth it when you come home and see me ragged and struggling. I sometimes fear you would take it back if you could.
So when you come home and ask me what I did all day, just know how hard I tried. I did the very best I could, and sometimes crossing the finish line at the end of the day is a victory in and of itself. The house may not be clean, but I had the best of intentions. I wake up every day putting my best foot forward. I hope you can see that.
I love you and these kids with all of my heart. No other job could be this demanding and yet this worth it. All that I ask from you is that you believe in me when I’ve forgotten how to believe in myself. I’ve never wanted to succeed in anything in life except this job and this family. It’s been said a thousand times and I know it’s true…these days pass so quickly. This time together is so short. Each day may feel like a year, but each year feels like a day. I won’t take this season for granted. And I’m happy to be running this course with you.
Jessica Fenon is a homeschooling mom of 4 that lives and breathes motherhood and family in all aspects. Having become a mother at a young age, she became passionate about encouraging moms in all walks of life to not allow stigmas and stereotypes to hold them back from fulfilling their greatest potential as a wife, mother, and woman. In her (precious few) spare moments, she is also passionate about running a small photography business where she is able to photograph families in a natural and relaxed way. She is absolutely honored to share her work in writing and in photographs with like minded individuals who know that perfection is simply a state of mind. You can find out more about her photography at Valor & Vine or follow her on Facebook.