Why I’m Done One-Upping My Husband on Who Had the Harder Day

Exhausted husband sleeps on the couch with the baby while his wife works busily behind him on the computer.
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Nearly every single day, without fail, I find myself in the kitchen scrubbing something or wrestling a baby into a diaper on the floor when my husband comes home from work.

“How was your day?” he asks.

Inevitably, I let out a huge sigh, followed by a string of venting that sounds something like this:

“Oh my gosh, I’m exhausted. Your children were all CRAZY today. It was like one thing after another … and the baby pooped on the rug the second I was trying to get us out of the door and your son refused to nap!”

Of course, all of it is true. But lately, I have to admit that even I am a little tired of our exhausted wife/overwhelmed husband spiel we’ve got going on here.

Why is it always my default setting to complain about my day the second my husband walks through the door? Why is it that I never — ever — relay the good parts of the day to him? Why do I want him to know just how exhausting it is to be me?

Is it because as a middle-class stay-at-home parent, I am entrenched in a privileged class of women who actually have the time to sit around and write about how tough it is to be a stay-at-home mom? Is it because deep down, I am an incredibly narcissistic, horrible person who finds staying home with kids harder than most? Or is it because being at home with four young kids all day is really hard, and I just need to be sure my husband gets that?

The truth is, I don’t know the real answer to that one. But I do know that all of my complaining isn’t doing anyone any favors.

I can see it in my husband’s eyes that he is wary of even talking to me about my daily going-ons right now. He prefaces most of his statements about his own day with, “I know, I know, nothing I do compares to what you do all day. I know you have it so much harder than me.”

But for crying out loud, our marriage is not one long competition to see who can have the most miserable day. So why am I making it one?

For whatever reason, I have fallen into the trap of acting like a stereotypical grumpy stay-at-home housewife, and in turn, my husband has come to expect that I am pretty much miserable all of the time; when in reality, I actually love most of my life.

Yes, staying home with my kids does test my patience pretty much every second of every day and yes, I’m perhaps not the world’s most “natural” stay-at-home mom (if such a thing even exists), but on the whole, I’m happy. I’m content. I love having a job that gives me the flexibility to be home, I love that I can take my kids to the park and out to lunch or just lay on the rug and make summer bucket lists, all of which we have done in the last week.

I’m incredibly grateful and thankful for the life I live and frankly, I’m sick of slipping into a pattern where being a mom and wife automatically means it’s hip to complain. Because it’s not. It’s making me bitter, and creating a husband who’s afraid to cross me. Not to mention, I’m sure my children are picking up on Mommy’s little complaints every now and then, too. If that’s not a punch in the postpartum gut, I don’t know what is.

Of course, I can talk a big game here, safely tucked away at Starbucks while my kids nap at home with a babysitter, but the real test will happen in an hour — when I go home, kiss my husband on the cheek, and he asks me, “How was your day, honey?”

Instead of immediately launching into a tirade about the latest poop-on-the-rug incident, or the fact that my toddler killed my brand new flowers by “helping” me water them, or that we don’t have a babysitter for his sister’s graduation tomorrow night, I think I’ll take a deep breath and simply say, “It was pretty good. I’ll tell you about it later.”

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