After slogging my way through this motherhood thing for 4+ years now, I’m beginning to think that parenting is 20 percent skill and 80 percent faking it/keeping up appearances.
As mamas, we spend way too much time feeling overwhelmed and stressed and unappreciated — and no one ever knows about it. We struggle to keep up the facade that we have our crap together (parenting, work, household stuff, friendships, etc.), when in reality, we often feel as though we are drowning. We end up feeling resentful toward the important people in our lives for not pitching in to help.
Recently, a friend of mine was feeling overwhelmed with it all. She was drowning — and looking for someone to throw her a life vest. She mentioned her frustration to me, sharing that she wished her husband and mom would offer to help out and give her a break from her little one. I asked if she had talked about how she was feeling and let them know what she needed. Her answer was what so many of us would answer: “Well, uh … no.”
I get it, because I’ve been there.
It’s hard to be honest when we’re unhappy and going through a difficult time. We don’t want people to think that we aren’t good parents or that we don’t love our children. But sharing our struggles and challenges and communicating our needs is just another part of being a good parent.
My friend’s husband and mom probably just didn’t realize how much she really needed extra help because she hadn’t actually told them about it.
But, how can they know if we don’t tell them?
This was my story, too. For so long I struggled as I tried to balance the many directions I was being pulled in. As a mom and a wife and a freelance writer working from home, there were many days when I felt overwhelmed. In fact, the word “overwhelmed” seemed completely insufficient most of the time. I struggled to get all of my daily mom stuff (grocery shopping, laundry, appointments, making a million snacks a day, etc.) done while scrambling to meet my writing deadlines. My husband would always commend me for getting everything done and thank me for the hard work I was doing for our family. But the reality was, I was stressed out of my mind, and I felt like I was failing at both motherhood and writing … EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Eventually it came down to simple honesty and open communication. I finally decided to make my feelings and needs a priority. I told my husband and family how I was feeling and together we worked out ways that they could help relieve some of the stress.
Once she knew how I was feeling, my wonderful mother-in-law offered to watch the kids one day a week so I could have undivided work time. My mom started regularly accompanying me on grocery store trips and watching my kids while I ran solo errands. She also helped out with a much-dreaded task on my list: laundry. My husband encouraged me to take at least one night out for myself every week to have time with friends or just time by myself, which has helped so much.
The outpouring of help and generosity from the people in my life has been above and beyond what I ever could have hoped. All of these changes have made such a huge difference in my outlook on motherhood, but these changes might never have happened if I hadn’t been honest about how I was feeling.
As parents and women, it is so important for us to become our own greatest advocates. The important people in our lives may love us to the moon and back, but they are not (nor should they be expected to be) mind readers. They can’t know if we don’t tell them, so let’s commit to more open communication and standing up for ourselves and the things we need to be the best parents we can possibly be.