I want to take the time to tell you what I need as a stay-at-home mom. Yes, there’s more. More than the mortgage covered, and the minivan payment, and the food on our table and clothes on all five of our backs.
I know what you don’t need; you certainly could do without more to-dos and more pressure. You already carry the weight of the world on your shoulders; we four girls are a lot and then some.
But if you’ll only hear me out.
I need you to come home from work and take over. Like immediately. Pick up a baby, rescue our toddler from the TV. I haven’t brushed my teeth yet and I’ve been holding my pee for three hours. I need you to show our children love because I’ve been serving from an empty cup since 10 a.m. I’m actually talking back to a 3-year-old. And as you can see, she’s naked. Her butt has seen every surface in this house—no couch or carpet has been left unscathed; wrestle her into that pile of clothes I brought down this morning.
I need you to stay home. I get lonely here, even though I’m never alone. I think you deserve time away as much as I do, but the thought of you leaving me for even 30 minutes longer than what is required makes me panic.
I need to hear I’m doing a good job—and I hate this about myself, my thirst for praise. But I gave up everything to be here, to raise these girls of ours. And I feel like I’m failing all of the time. I won’t get a performance review for at least 18 years when we know whether or not we raised delinquents void of morals, goals, or ambition.
I put a lot into motherhood right now. I’ve sacrificed a career, social life, hygiene, and my body—which I’m mostly thrilled to do. But when I cut our kid’s quesadilla into a heart, can you act like I figured out how to bring peace to the Middle East? This is all I have right now, hun.
I need to know how much you think my work here matters. I feel guilty all of the time. I don’t bring in a dollar these days, and the post-bedtime internet shopping keeps me hanging on. I need to know the work I do in here is as important to our family as the work you do out there.
I need you to encourage self-care, not massages and manicures or a girls’ trip to Nashville. Showers, regular exercise, healthy eating and the occasional lunch with a friend. I need you to not blink an eye when I mention that Monday is the day I turn this hot mess express around like I have every Monday for the last 52 weeks. Just dig into this bowl of unseasoned broccoli and toast to my health.
I need you to tell me to go—and to mean it. And when I come home I need you to be happy and reassure me that everything went well. It’s hard for me to leave this house; I have endless anxieties about our kids when I’m away.
I need you to work weekends. Cover my shift—my life depends on it. By the time we get to Saturday, I’m DONE. If you could give the kids breakfast, genetically modified motor oil for all I care, I’ll cascade down our stairwell at 7:30 a.m. like a Disney princess and sweep you off your feet. While you’re down there filling cereal bowls and fiddling with the TV, could you make an executive decision about an activity for the day? You wanted to just stay home and relax after a long week of work, but I’ve been in this house for 84 years and we are going out.
I need you to do the chores I hate—those baskets of clean, unfolded laundry are a cry for help.
I need you to tell me I’m beautiful, that my wit hasn’t suffered at the mercy of sleepless nights, that I’m still sharp as a tack. That motherhood hasn’t made me less to you. People don’t compliment my outfit in the break room at work. Sure this robe is tattered, but don’t I look cozy? Like a tired teddy bear you’re dying to wrap your arms around?
And finally, I need you to know I am so thankful; that if given a (hard to come by) moment to think of everything you do for this family . . . it brings me to tears. My awe and gratitude make my heart feel like it will explode. I know you could go round for round with me on sacrifices, each one different, but the same. Your career, your hobbies, your freedom. I want you to know that I am so grateful that I’m able to say I’ve given up all of these things for our children. Without you that wouldn’t be possible.
I want you to know that I’m in this with you, while you’re out there.
Now husband, what do you need?