Being a Good Mom is Making me a Bad Wife

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tired-mom

“I’m losing my mind.  I’m trying to make dinner and they won’t stop demanding things and there are THREE of them and only ONE of me and I can’t get the fucking LIGHTBULB into the RIDICULOUS bathroom LIGHT!”

That’s how I greeted my husband when he came through the door last night.  No hello.  No smile.  Certainly no kiss, but I hadn’t showered that day anyway, so he probably dodged a bullet there.  Just rage and profanity and some nonsense about lightbulbs.  It was me at my worst and that’s what he was met with the second he got home.  He’s witnessed my meltdowns plenty of times before, but right as he walked in the door?  It was a new low.

Things calmed down after everyone was finally fed.  I was cleaning up the kitchen when he came in, gave me a hug, and said, “I’m sorry you had such a rough day.”

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And at that moment I felt really terrible because the thing is that it wasn’t a rough day.  It was a pretty normal day.  There were good moments and difficult moments, but nothing all that stressful had happened for most of the day.  The girls drew pictures and then we used their colorful creations to decorate their cardboard tunnel.  They loved their lunch because it involved applesauce and cheese.  And although the twins didn’t nap, the baby slept for almost three hours.  So as a whole, the day could have been much worse.

It’s just that everything came down on top of me all at once.

I was sautéing mushrooms and stirring beans and microwaving rice.

The twins “needed” me to commune with them while they sat on their potties and insisted that I replace the bulb in our obnoxious old-house bathroom light fixture because it was apparently “too dark to pee.”

The baby ripped apart the pictures that everyone had so carefully colored and I had so carefully taped to their tunnel. And then screeched about it. So her sisters started screeching about it too.

The dog puked on the floor and that smell mingled with the smell of beans and spices burning to the bottom of a pan.

So of course all of that was going on at exactly the time that my husband was walking through the door.

He came home to a sweaty, angry wife and assumed that it had been a rough day.  Once I had a second to think, I felt terrible because I realized something huge:

My husband never sees me at my best.

At my best, I’m witty, creative, and enthusiastic.  At my worst, I’m short-tempered, grouchy, and cold.  I can usually be found somewhere between those two, and although my kids often get my best, and my writing sometimes does, my husband just doesn’t.

I worry that this is how marriages fall apart.

I worry that he thinks I’m always stressed out and yelling when I’m home alone with the kids.  Because I’m not.  He doesn’t see me on a good day at about 10 a.m. when I’ve had coffee and the morning rush is over.  Sometimes I’ve managed to clean the kitchen, brush my teeth, and maybe even sneak in a shower by then.  That’s when we snuggle and have a book-reading marathon.  Or we dance.  Or I decide it’s a good idea to take out some pipe cleaners and glue and make a “craft.”  That’s when I have fun with my kids and they get my best self.

But my husband?  He sees me first thing in the morning when I’m groggy and up to my eyeballs in cups of milk and custom orders for toast.  Then he sees me at the end of the day, when I’m just plain worn out.

There are weekends sure, but weekends with little kids aren’t very weekend-y.  We get out for dates every once in a while, but not nearly enough.

I love that I can be myself with my husband.  He honestly doesn’t care if I’m wearing makeup or anything like that.  I know that he loves me.  I know that he loves how we’ve created a family together.  We’re partners and we signed up for this life together.

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But I want to be fun and interesting and sexy when I’m with him, at least sometimes.  I want him to know that I’m more than just a frazzled nutcase in an applesauce-covered Target t-shirt.  And I’m sure he does know that, in a sense, but how long is he going to believe it without any evidence to the contrary?  How do I give him my best?  How do other stay-at-home-moms do it?  Does he worry about any of these things too?

Maybe this is just a by-product of the baby-and-little-kid years of parenting.  Maybe once I get some time to myself for things like reading, writing, thinking, and exercising, I’ll have enough energy to be my best when my husband is actually around.  Maybe then I can stop yelling about lightbulbs and put on a clean t-shirt once in a while.

We both deserve that.  We really do.

Related post: The 5 Stages of Parents’ Sex Life

Comments

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  1. Mariana says

    For me, the answer has been to go back to work super part time. I have a few afternoons a week where I can do something there is entirely my own, work. I work from home most of the time, and just handing the baby over to the sitter and worrying about something other than the color of my son’s poop is like a mini-vacation. It also provides me with some money to hire some help. Now when my husband comes home I’m not usually a frazzled mess, and I have something to talk about besides the kids. The house is cleaner and I’ve had time to work out and shower. I still am with my kids most of the day, it is still crazy, but I feel I have an outlet now, I have the chance to do something I used to do before kids and feel more like myself. It’s not going to work for everybody, and it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s been working for me.

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    • Mel says

      I agree, I went back to work full time (shift work) when my boy was 5 1/2 months and I love it. He’s only in daycare 2 half days a week and I get to spend plenty of time with him but can sometimes eat my lunch – in peace – while it’s still hot and NOT get interrupted! Heaven! Oh and it means I can afford/justify a house cleaner once a week :)

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    • Niecee says

      I went back to work 24 hours a week not just to keep up with medicine, my passion, but to find an excuse for not having to do crafts. Reading and teaching, loved it, crafts, not so much. Sorry too busy you know between work and babies.

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      • Heather Hedderman says

        For the ladies thinking about PART TIME work – look into direct sales…it gives you a little mommy time on your schedule. I chose Dove Chocolate Discoveries….but there are so many options!

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        • donna says

          i raised 5 about each 2 yrs apart. my husband worked 3 jobs. there were not a lot of modern conveniences of today. although i do feel for you. if you would take some time to chill and relax instead of blogging. you may feel abit better. and happier when hubby gets home. sorry.

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          • Alisa says

            For some people, writing about their day IS therapeutic (blogging, journals, etc), far more so than if I just “chilled” and sat down with all of the thoughts of my day running through my head. I’ve had these days too, and sometimes having a chance to write it all down allows me to look at things more objectively and identify ways that I can change and improve far better than if I were to just sit down and try to get my mind off of it. So, the rant sometimes looks a little horrendous when I read it, but I’m usually a better mom the next day because of it.

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          • anonymous says

            What a complete degenerate you are to advise this loving mom to stop blogging, a natural and decent outlet. Of course! Why didn’t she think of that? What’s wrong, concerned with the fact that someone has some writing talent while you’ve forgotten how to even be alone never mind having words like “abit” litter your vocabulary? Shame.

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      • Amanda says

        Kate, I love how you beautifully explain that it’s not about your whole day, home with the children, but this one situation where tensions rise. All mothers are still in a situation where we get home or are home, with children, and we might need to cook dinner for our families. We are all wives, who are also mothers, trying to do both well and in-sync.

        I think finding ways to relieve the stress around this time would be good. I would set the food aside and make PBJs if needed (lower expectations) but I’ve also heard of a mom having a younger babysitter come play with her kids, while she cleans or cooks. Typically these are girls who love kids and can learn to babysit while the children’s mom is still there. Focus on the ways you and your husband are connecting; your husband sounds very understanding and supportive.

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    • Chloe says

      Bonnie, I find your comment a bit scary, because if my mum had followed your advice she wouldn’t have had me because she didn’t want to stop working. She always worked full time, I went to day care which isn’t that horrible and I have only good memory of my childhood and am also a happy adult. Again a full-time working mum and I don’t think my kids are unhappy. Love the kids, love my job. Kids will get confronted to other people’s beliefs and values anyway, if you’re not trying to raise them in some crazy cult that should be okay.
      I think it would have been such a waste for my mum to decide not to have me, and I hope my kids will feel the same…

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    • Lauren says

      Actually Bonnie. I don’t remember my mom being home at all. She was a teacher at the same school I was at and I VAGUELY remember her being at my school when I was in grade 3 or 4. I do not recall any of the early years that she took time off to raise my brother and I.

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    • Claire says

      I agree with you, Bonnie. Staying home is much harder than working for so many women, I think in part because we just don’t “know” if we can handle it, it feels like we have “no other identity”, etc…. but in my opinion, it is much more selfless if it is possible for you to stay home to raise your children full-time. Having children involves sacrifice, if you want to call it that–I call it a blessing, but in our self-indulgent society, not everyone does. People who don’t remember their mums (or dads, a stay at home parent) home with them naturally may have a harder time understanding what it means to family.

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    • says

      Direct sales is PERFECT for any parent that needs something for themselves. Not to mention the additional income is a huge help.I discovered Usborne Books and More earlier this year and completely fell in love with it. Since I have always been a reader and my kids are readers too, it was a great way to get them a home library for free and meet other moms and dads with kids and have some party time to vent or just get away from “reality.” Regardless of which direct sales you may choose, it is a great way to get out of the house; I just happen to really and truly love mine. :-)

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    • firstname says

      That’s why it’s best to have one parent be a stay-at-home parent. Doesn’t have to be the mom….just one….and that’s why a mom and dad both are better than just a single parent. I know that because I’m a widow with young kids. Imagine if the wife in the article NEVER GOT TO LET OFF STEAM TO HER HUSBAND……she just did both the wife SAH stuff AND a job………that’s the life of a single parent.

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    • keilea says

      I also work 1 day a week. It helps me to not feel so cooped up in the house. I make enough to buy a few cloth diapers, or get my nails done, but not much more and it’s perfect for us. My fiancé loves his Saturdays with our little one, and I love the adult interaction! It’s not about the money at all :)

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      • Elizabeth Halifax says

        Not gonna speak for Kate, but I’m gonna wager a guess: probably because being a parent is fucking ridiculous and it’s fucking okay to express your fucking self when you’re doing a really fucking difficult job.

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          • Sonya says

            Amen! I need out of the fucking house! :) lol. I’ve completely lost myself as a stay-at-home mom of two little ones. I used to think about things, go places talk to adults, contribute to the world, wear nice clothes. Now I have no idea who I am, other than a cleaning robot, or the person you whine to. I had an appointment the other day and booked daycare to cover it, then thought, “hey, throw in a couple extra hours so I can go to the gym and not be rushed.” It was surreal! I jogged thinking, “I don’t have the kids with me… I don’t have the kids with me! I’m all by myself! There’s things I like doing! Me! I like things! Me! ME!” hahaha Still brings a tear to my eye.

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      • Keri says

        Wow, Deidre, you must be absolutely perfect….she had a momentary loss of control. It happens to the best of us, but apparently not you in all of your perfect glory.

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    • Jamie Rowe says

      I was the SAHM for the first 3 years after my daughter and than son were born. I thought I was frazzled then. Then I went back to work full time and now it is sooo much worse. Now I am trying to fit in all the normal mommy stuff on top of a 40 hour work week. I stress about packing healthy lunches and snacks, making sure my kindergartner has all her stuff for school, making sure everyone has clean outfits for school and daycare, as well as trying to maintain a household etc. . . My hubby is great, better than most, but he is still a man. He is big picture, “my kids are safe and fed and the bills are paid” where I am a mom so of course I take care of all the small details that keep this house running. I feel like I don’t get to enjoy being a mom BECAUSE I am being a mom haha.

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    • Heather Searcy says

      I just shared with my husband too. I just had this happen last night. I totally lost it when he got home. The picked a fight with him. Awful. They just don’t get it. … sigh. Neither do I. ;)

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    • Candice says

      That’s ridiculous. Stop feeling guilty for being a good mom. I’m sure he sees everything wonderful about you that you think he’s missing. When the kids get a little older your relationship will change again. Don’t hang onto what was because it will never be that exact way again. You’re evolving together as a family and as a couple.

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      • red says

        But you forget you are a spouse first and a parent second. Your spouse should never be replaced by your kids. Yes things change but the spouse should never ever take second place to the kids or work. This from a husband and father of three girls.

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        • mesha says

          No.. once you have children.. children come first.. your man is suppose to act like a man not a rebellious jealous kid .When you have children. children come first.. the idea your man comes first has blinded or let women look away as their children were being abused by their men. And a father would want to make sure his children’s needs are met first too. This is coming from a single mother who noticed her husband was abusing the kids while she was at work and did something about it while he kept telling me he came first and his word was more important than the babies I brought into this world. My children were a lot happier and healthier because of it. But still the scars of his abuse effect them even though now 2 of them are adults. Their biggest fear was that I would not believe them as this is what happened with other kids when they told their mother’s about abuse from husbands and boyfriends.. they told the children they were laying and made the partner come first.

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          • Claire says

            Abuse is a completely different situation than this guy is talking about–in a healthy marriage, I completely agree with the above father. I’m a wife & mommy and although it IS difficult to put your spouse first, I think it is the best for your children to have parents who love and prioritize each other. Loving your children (usually) comes naturally; loving your spouse takes more work and so more energy needs to go into it in order for a relationship to thrive. Children are better off because of it!!

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          • says

            I’m so sorry that your children were abused, but that is not always the case and especially not so in a healthy marriage. I don’t put either my kids or my husband or myself first. It’s a fluctuating scale; whoever needs the attention the most, gets it, as long as it doesn’t mean someone else is being perpetually sacrificed. That said, my marriage is what will be with me long after the children have grown and left the house. I hope that we will always nurture each other the way we do now, especially as our kids leave the nest.

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          • Jim says

            As a father of three and grand pa to 9.8, I would like you to not forget that your children grow up, and leave your home; hopefully as responsible adults, but your wife/husband is for life. One of the best examples of love you can demonstrate to your children is your unquenchable, look deeply into my eyes, kind of love for your soulmate. When your children know that mommy and daddy’s love is the epicenter of the family, there is a profound security built into your children. Of course your children need to know they are unconditionally loved, but perhaps even more they need to know that mommy and daddy have an unbreakable bond that nothing will shake loose.

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          • says

            We agree with those who say God first, spouse second, kids third.

            Often, when the kids all start screaming for our attention, we just hug each other and kiss. Right in front of them. One of the best examples we can give them is the visual of a mom and dad who love each other, who create a marriage and household that is secure and safe.

            So we have date night once a week, no matter what. Church and date night are the first two things we put into our schedule each week. Then daddy/daughter and mommy/daughter date nights with the kids. All of these relationships are madly important, but we are going to be married for 60 years…and we can’t take a 20-year break from marriage to raise kids. Intimacy is a fragile flower that requires much nurturing.

            And to tell a husband to just be a man!? Seriously? A man is not just a dad any more than a woman is a mom. (What are we saying to our single friends…that they aren’t men or women yet?) We are 360-degree beings. Any being parents is just one part, albeit a huge blessing of a part.

            Nothing but blessings come to children who have parents who pour effort and passion into their marriage relationship. A full cup overflows.

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          • Amber says

            Nobody is saying the man comes first, but the marriage should come first. A healthy marriage with cooperating, communicating, loving partners will have the best influence on your children overall. This doesn’t mean neglecting your children nor abusing them. You had a bad situation and you did a great thing by getting your kids out of it, but that situating didn’t come from you putting your husband first, it came from their father being a bad guy.

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        • Michelle T says

          Agree! I once had a very wise man tell me that he never took his kid’s side when they got to be teens because, “You’re moving out in four years. I was married to your mom six years before you existed and will be for decades after you’re gone.” I think it is very healthy and a great example for us to not sacrifice our husbands on the alter of our children. Show them that marriage doesn’t die when they’re born.

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        • Stephanie says

          I don’t agree. Your children’s well-being comes first. It should come first to both Mom and Dad. I’m not saying that your relationship with your spouse (or significant other if you are not yet married, or have chosen not to marry) should completely fall by the wayside… That is how marriages fall apart. However, you and your spouse chose to have children, and the needs of those children should be your highest priority. Trying to find a balance between being a good parent and being a good spouse (be it a mommy or a daddy trying to find said balance) is difficult. I think Tracey’s comment is spot on. You have to look at whose need is greatest in each moment to know where your attention needs to be, but without constantly sacrificing anyone’s needs, including your own. Sometimes, being the best parent and spouse you can be requires that you put yourself first. Other times it means grown-up time. Most often, though, it means Mommy/kiddo time, Daddy/kiddo time, or just family time.

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          • Kay says

            I disagree. Why can’t children and a spouse be equal? I give my family equal time, and I work. When I “slack” on giving my husband the time and attention he deserves he kindly points it out, and we fix it. Neither of us put the kids before each other or each other before the kids. They are our kids, they need us, but, our spouse needs us as well. No one should “come first” It needs to be equal. I get off of work and I spend time with my son and my husband, but I mostly concentrate on my son, because he has to go to bed. Then once our son goes to bed I am all my husbands. When my step daughters are there on the weekends/holidays, they have most of our time during the day. They go to their grandparents for a while every visit, which gives my husband and I more alone time. There is a way to equally (or come close to it) divide your attention to your spouse and children. You just have to figure out what works best for you. A husband and wife deserve to have time together, even after having a family, but so do your children. Yes, your children will grow up and move on with their lives, but right now they are not grown up and living on their own, so they need their parents, just like their parents need each other. Just my husbands and my opinion. :D

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        • Alicia says

          I am sorry, but to me, that is ridiculous. My husband puts our daughters above me in every single aspect of life–and I want it that way. I do the same. It is one of the many things that we agree on–that the most important thing in BOTH of our lives is our children. The most precious thing that we made together. And our relationship is fantastic.

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          • lizzibug says

            Absolutely agree the kids come first for both my husband and me. We work together to make raising them a little easier for each other if we can and by doing so show each other love and support. Its not always fair and not always pretty but I am his rock and he is mine. He’s seen the sweaty, angry, had enough wife and I’ve seen the short fuse, sweating on the small stuff husband. We’ve agreed that if ever either of us was to turn into something awful (eg abuse drugs etc) the other is EXPECTED to ditch our destructive ass and protect the kids with everything at our disposal too.

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        • anonymous says

          Cheers for your honesty here, amidst the backlash that should follow it. I’m a working parent, my husband SAHD. I didn’t recognize him enough and we had high tension- he recently cheated. It’s very hard to move on from because I feel it’s so inherently wrong for him to have done it… that said, I get it. I get that men and women both need to feel good about themselves. And if you don’t do it someone else will. And that sucks and it’s wrong, but it’s truth. Maybe I would have done it too and I just didn’t know it. Neither of us was in a relationship with the other. Just each with our son. It doesn’t work- not long-term.

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      • n mcconnell says

        i agree. i don’t know how old your kids are, but they won’t stay little forever. then you can do your hair and makeup, shower when needed, etc. you are fortunate that your husband is supportive and understanding, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about how much you are able to give to him. are they not his children, too? does he not want the best for them? and even if he is not the biological father, he chose the kids when he chose you. life is about growing up, not just getting older and it doesn’t do anybody any harm to be patient and unselfish. in fact i would say that is exactly what they DO need– to succeed as human beings. we have 9 children, and i continued to gain weight with each pregnancy. for a while my husband was disappointed that i was no longer slender and ‘beautiful’, but even if no one ever gained weight, we all eventually lose our outward beauty. we now have 6 grandchildren, and are no longer young, but i have to say that my husband loves me more now than he did 20 years ago. he still thinks i am beautiful and he doesn’t seem to even notice what i actually look like, he sees me with his heart. your husband probably sees you that way also, so give him the credit he deserves, and be patient with yourself. enjoy this time with your small children, knowing that at some point you will have your days all to yourself again. only then, you might just be bored all the time!

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    • Frances says

      What Nicole said. Hugs to you sweaty, angry wife. I’m not dealing with half of what described are and I’m a frazzled mess today. I always think, “if only he’d been here at x’o clock when I didn’t resemble a dishevelled mad muppet! x

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