I love you. I do, with all of my essence. But let me just put it out there — I am tired. I am so tired that my tired is tired. Do you get that? It’s pointless for me to even think about how high my level of fatigue is, because it takes too much energy to put together coherent thoughts. Pooped. Drained. Frazzled. Tired.
You look at me like I’m an alien who has escaped a booby hatch. I am a working mom, and that is a club like no other. I carry the deep-seated guilt of not being at home day in and day out with our kids as the “good” moms are.
I know that stay-at-home moms do real work — hard work. But I’m simply not wired to stay at home that way. For me, it’s like a mini-vacation to go to my job every day, even though I do real hard work there, too. I feel worthwhile and useful in my profession.
The fundamental necessity of my paycheck’s contribution to our family is abated by the fact that I like my career. I want my kids to see that it’s good to work hard. They will be stronger for it. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. But the guilt struggle of not being there for them is real. And it never, ever fades away.
Look, I don’t think you’re a bad husband or a bad father. Quite the opposite — you’re in the upper echelon of great guys out there. You’re my Romeo, my Stud Muffin, my MacDaddy. Please don’t try to “fix” my tired, but (and this is a big but) you can ease my burden in tangible ways.
If you see me coming in from my car with a combination of work documents, school backpacks, kids’ art projects, or bags of groceries, offer a helping hand. And honestly, can you please keep up with your own dang keys and wallet? Lessen my burden.
I have another issue: I’m lonely. The working breed of mom-wife is lonely today. Most of my friends do the same type of relentless career tasks that I do, day in and day out, so none of us have time for one another anymore. Gone are the days of pedicure dates and happy hours. On the rare occasion when we get to drink wine and be in our PJ pants together, we feel safe, at home, normal.
Please understand that loneliness is my enemy. I need community, so encourage my friendships. Force me out of the house to be reminded of freedom.
But sweetie, that means you need to tag in for me so I can go out! I know you want a to-do list in my absence, but don’t you see that I’m too tired to put a coherent list together? Alas, it’s my only hope, so I’ll try my best.
Feed our loving tyrants dinner, bathe them, check homework, and set out clothes for school the next day according to whether it’s a library day, a performing arts day, or P.E. day. (Don’t send our daughter to school in a skirt if it’s P.E. day, for Pete’s sake.) Create the Eiffel Tower out of paper-freaking-mache and glitter. (BTW, whoever invented glitter clearly wasn’t thinking about the torture it would inflict upon humanity.) Make sure they brush their teeth and read a book. Talk over whatever they want to endlessly talk about at pillow time. And for the love of everything holy, get it all done on schedule so they get a full night of sleep! Otherwise, we pay the price of sleep-deprived suffering and wildly strung emotions the following day. The booby hatch would be a welcome respite compared to one more meltdown.
Then, go clean up the kitchen, feed the pets, pack school lunches, pull the morning laundry from the washer and put it into the dryer so we avoid that mildew smell in our clothes. If the smell has already set in, run that baby on another rinse cycle and then change it out when the buzzer dings. (I hate that frickin’ buzzer.)
I have control issues and I’m working on those. I’ll try my best to come home from my evening with friends without criticizing everything you had to go through while I was away for a few hours. Who cares if you fed our kids a dinner medley of mac and cheese with baked potatoes and leftover spaghetti? Long live carbs! I know it was hard, tiresome, and loud, and I’m grateful that you pitched in, Love Muffin.
My final thoughts are these: I have too much on my plate and feel like a failure. Every area of my life gets 60% of my best. That’s a D. I’m failing. Wouldn’t you look ragged and old if you were coasting through life with D?
That’s all I can muster and I know it sucks, but I will gregariously tackle tomorrow and shoot for an A. Maybe I’ll fall short (again), but could you please tell me that I’m doing a good job? Can you encourage me in my parenting efforts, in my job, and contribution to our family?
I look to you for some rest. Take care of me physically. I’m not talking sex (well, maybe if the mood is right). Run a bubble bath on occasion, light a candle, and let me be alone in my quiet thoughts for 20 minutes. (Besides, it’s a fair trade for your daily trips to the “throne room” that you’ve somehow turned into a man-cave for pooping. Seriously?) So dim the lights and crank on some Boyz II Men. Put some effort into it and romance me! But please don’t get mad if I topple into bed already dozing before “I’ll Make Love to You” is mid-way through.
I’d love to stay and talk about all this, but it’s time to get back to work. I’ve got a runny nose to wipe, emails to check, math homework to finish, and miles to go before I sleep.
Your working wife
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy