Raising kids is undoubtedly my life’s greatest joy, but it is also long, exhausting work. Parenting is the type of labor where you invest and you invest, day after day, but you often don’t see the fruits of your labor for months, or even years.
As a stay-at-home mom, I am alone with my kids for roughly 12 hours each day. My husband comes home, we eat dinner, and then there’s only about an hour or two remaining before the kids go to bed.
On the days or months when mothering is especially hard, I start to feel like an island, like I’m parenting these kids mostly alone. This is the soil where resentment starts to grow.
He doesn’t understand what these kids are like all day. Doesn’t he see how thin my patience is stretched? He has no idea how hard I’m working.
At this point, I start to envy everything about my husband’s job. Quiet lunches, an office with a door that shuts, I even start to envy his traffic.
That’s right. When things are hard, I can be so petty that I find myself jealous of a stop-and-go commute that can take upwards of 90 minutes. After all, he can listen to the radio or even enjoy some precious silence. Meanwhile, I’m at home trying to prepare dinner and survive the witching hour with three kids who’ve rapidly morphed into circus animals, climbing, fighting, and occasionally throwing poop. (Yes, that has happened. No, I’m not ready to talk about it yet).
But the narrative here is all wrong.
Yes, I’m working my tail off daily, but so is he.
I go to bed exhausted from the day’s demands, but so does he.
I will wake up before the sun to face a day full of challenges, many unforeseen, but so will he.
People will gobble up my time and attention, leaving me with hardly any for myself. My goals and plans for the day will be derailed early and often. People will make unreasonable demands of me. This will happen to my husband, too—but without the benefit of those “people” being his children, whom he loves deeply.
My husband and I are a team. We are raising these children together. We are supporting this family together. Our roles look different, but our goal is the same. When I get caught in a cycle of jealousy or resentment, I miss the sacrifices he makes for me, for our kids, for our family.
Yes, I handle the vast majority of the night-waking and vomit-cleaning, but I also get to sleep late on those rare mornings that all the kids sleep in.
I do have to schedule and juggle doctor’s appointments, teacher conferences, and early dismissals, but I don’t have to miss my son’s preschool performance because a meeting ran late.
I am outnumbered by our kids at their toughest time of day, but I also get to hear about what happened at school while the news is still fresh and they are still excited to talk.
I am there for every sore throat, boogery nose, dirty diaper, messy meal, and explosive tantrum, but I also get the joy of every first word, first wave, and first step.
No, I don’t get to travel on business trips, staying in nice hotels and eating in upscale restaurants, but I also never have to talk to my kids via FaceTime, hearing them tell me they miss me and wish I was home with them.
In this season when the work is constant and the needs are never-ending, and I am just so, so tired, it is entirely too easy to focus inward, to see my own sacrifices and minimize his. But we are partners, in this together. I work hard all day long to make sure our family has what it needs.
So does he.