“If you need help, just ask.”
“I’m not a mind reader, if you need something, just tell me what you need.”
“Stop nagging me, I’ll get to it when I get to it.”
All sound familiar? As moms, we take on so much responsibility — emotional, household, work. Of course, men do as well, but it seems more often than not, we are the managers of chaos. The ones who never mentally turn off because we are thinking about … well, everything.
The kids’ soccer game in three days. Which color uniform we need to have washed in time for said game. What is for dinner tomorrow night. Did I remember to turn in that permission slip for the field trip next week? Am I being a good wife? A good mom? That deadline for an assignment at work.
The list is never-ending.
As someone who has always been pretty much in control, organized and not in need of others help, it was a huge mental shift to learn how to ask for what I needed. For what was going to make me feel more sane and less like I was drowning. But my husband is busy too. My family in town is busy. We are all busy. We all need that downtime to decompress, be in our own thoughts, and take care of ourselves. But more often than not I find myself up later than everyone in the house — cleaning, prepping lunches, doing laundry, catching up on the work I couldn’t get done because the toddler needed me more than normal today.
So I decide to ask for help
I ask my husband to help me get the kids out of the bath so we can get them to bed on time.
“OK, in just a minute.” ... and then 10 minutes have gone by while I hear him listening to whatever video he is watching on his phone, and my usual laid back self starts to get angry.
Every minute that passes I feel more and more upset, mad, irritated. I walk back in and ask for help again and he is short with me saying he will be right there. I don’t want to wait any longer — I am ready for my ‘alone’ time, so I go into the bathroom to get the kids ready for bed myself … and I step in an inch of water.
And I SNAP
Dragon mom descends and everyone in the house snaps out of their trance to come running and see what happened.
And once again, my cries for help have fallen on deaf ears … until I explode. Why must I get to this point for me to be heard?
In my fairy tale world, everyone in my life – husband, parents, family – knows what I need. They see me drowning in the day to day world and they say “Hey, why don’t you let me pick up the kids from school today so you can have a couple extra hours to do whatever you’d like to or need to do.” Or “Hey, I am heading home from work – is there anything I should pick up at the store on my way home?”
But this is not my reality. And so the cycle continues.
Making it work
Marriage and relationships take consistent work, and I know that it has to be a conversation that is had more than once. Here is what has helped in the past and what I continue to work on.
Communication. Not me demanding things, but simply asking for what I need. Not being accusatory, rather coming from a place of “this is how I am feeling, how can we make this easier for both of us.”
Carving out time for my own thoughts. No matter what you want to call this — self-care, ‘me time’, etc — this is something I have to be conscious of. If I do not have at least a few minutes a day to just be in my own head, with my own thoughts, I quickly get much more irritable. If this means the kids get a few extra minutes of screen time, so be it. I know this may not be the popular suggestion here, but those extra minutes of screen time will keep me more present with them when I have had time to finish that email or rest for a few minutes.
Organization. Keeping all appointments and tasks in my phone calendar makes me feel less scattered which in turn helps me be more efficient in my daily tasks and chores that need to get done.
Giving myself grace that life is not perfect. My house is not always going to look clean.
Cultivating friendships with true friends who see through your smile, see through your ‘I-am-wonder-woman and can do anything’ face and say “Hey, it’s ok to feel the way you’re feeling.”
At the end of the day, we are all in this together.