I’m sitting at a coffee shop, writing. It’s 8:00 on a Sunday night. My husband is home with our three children, handling dinner and bedtime. My husband has to go to work tomorrow. I do not. He is the sole financial provider for our family, mentally and physically managing the stress of job security every day of his life for his family of five.

So why am I sitting in a coffee shop on a Sunday night when the kids needed dinner and the laundry still isn’t done and I’m not sure if my husband’s suit was ever picked up from the dry cleaner?

Because I asked.

When I tell my girlfriends that my husband frequently takes over so I can disappear and write, many of them bitterly respond that their spouses would never do that.

But have you asked them? I’ll say.

And I’m met with a myriad of responses. There’s no point, I know he wouldn’t… He could never handle all the kids!… I can’t. He works too hard.

To those statements, I say:

He might say yes.

Yes, he can.

So do you.

My husband works harder than anyone I know. He doesn’t sleep and he doesn’t stop. He’s never taken a sick day in the 17 years I’ve known him. I can say without hesitation that he is the hardest working person I’ve ever met. Yet he still says yes, of course you can go away and write. Because I ask.

So why don’t you ask? What are you afraid will happen if you ask for some time to yourself? I’ll tell you why I didn’t ask for a long time. I was scared. I was scared of not having control. What if he didn’t heat up the bottle perfectly? What if he forgot to put my son’s lotion on his eczema? What if the kids all stayed up too late and were cranky tomorrow? What if the house is a mess when I get home? 

The “what ifs” continued until one day, I did go out and left him to handle it all. And do you know what? All of those things happened. My husband didn’t do everything exactly as I did. And miraculously, my kids were completely fine. Yours will be too. Even if he forgets to slather your son in coconut oil for one night and lets them have Skittles at 8 p.m.

Your husband can handle it. You know what happens when I’m gone? The house gets trashed. I’m talking category 5 tornado destruction. Rarely are baths given or teeth brushed. They eat an obscene amount of sugar and stay up hours later than Mommy lets them. But here’s what else happens: They have fun. Their dad, who works long hours and travels frequently, gets to be the fun parent and make memories with them. And yeah, Mommy might come home to a mess, but she comes home happy and fulfilled. She got to escape, fill her cup, and work on herself. Everyone wins. So “handling it” might look different for Dad than it does for Mom, but that compromise—a compromise I had to adjust to—is part of this parenting gig.

And I’ll tell you another reason why I was scared to ask. What if I left to work on me, to work on a goal, and I failed? How could I face my family? How could I face myself? Are you afraid of starting because you fear failure too? Do you want to run a marathon but you are afraid to start a training regimen? Do you want to go back to school but you are too scared to enroll in classes? I get it. It’s easier to say you can’t because of the kids. Or because your husband works long hours. I know. I did it for years.

But here’s the truth you have to face: It’s not the kids holding you back. It’s not your spouse holding you back. It’s you.

Go ask him. Tell him that you have a vision, a dream of doing something, but you need his help. I’ll bet he says yes.

You just have to start. And you might fail at times. I did. I still do. But I’m here, tonight, writing. Because I asked.

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Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is a freelance writer who is known on social media as The 21st Century SAHM. She is an assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds, staff writer and social media manager for Scary Mommy, and is the author of I Brushed My Hair Today, A Mom Journal for Mostly Together Moms. Follow Karen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/21stcenturysahm/, Twitter https://twitter.com/21stcenturysahm , and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/the21stcenturysahm/