I’m not exactly where to start and on top of that, I’m so tired I’m not sure I can even express myself. But here goes.
I have two beautiful girls, ages six and seven, who are the light of my life. The problem is I work two jobs and when I’m with them, I feel like I’m a bad mother. I’m always cranky, tired, sleepy and can’t give them much of my time or attention.
Add to that, my husband doesn’t seem to understand me or care, seeing as he doesn’t help out with chores around the house.
Rene, please help! I’m starting to feel like a failure as a wife and mother. I’m so overwhelmed, I don’t know where else to turn or what to do.
Exhausted in Elmira
I get it. I hear you and I understand how you feel. I think every mother has been in this place before. But your situation is exacerbated by a couple of factors, multiple jobs and a partner who is not helping out. So I want you to take five minutes ALL BY YOURSELF, go into another room and read what I have to say. Okay, are you there? Good, here’s my advice:
YOU MUST TAKE YOURSELF OFF THE BOTTOM OF THE “TO-DO” LIST! In other words, you have to take care of yourself. This is CRITICAL! I cannot tell you how many times I see or hear this from women; they are so busy taking care of everyone else that they neglect themselves. This is a hard concept for some mothers to comprehend but by taking care of yourself, you ARE taking are of your daughters. How on earth can you possibly do that from your hospital bed? Because, listen to me, that’s where you’re gonna end up if you don’t give yourself the same mental, physical and emotional TLC you afford others.
REPEAT AFTER ME: “I AM NOT A BAD MOTHER”: Not even close. But I’m sure part of the reason you think that is because you have a picture of what “good mothers” do for their kids based on society’s expectation. A “good mother” spends “X” amount of time each day with her kids. A “good mother” bakes from scratch. A “good mother” reads to her children every night and so on. SERIOUSLY?! Because if that’s the case, I need to be, not just IN bad mommy jail, but under it! Right now you need to banish that idea from your head; you’re doing just fine. At six and seven, your girls are old enough to understand when you explain stuff to them. Tell them you want to play but you’re tired from work and just need a few minutes to rest. And spending time with them doesn’t have to be playing kickball outside. Our kids love to take care of us so let them give you a manicure or a new hairstyle. They’d probably love that. So would you.
YOUR HUSBAND HAS TO GET WITH THE PROGRAM: This is not an option; he HAS to help out around the house. How do you get him to do that, especially when he doesn’t see value your contribution? You go on strike; at least that’s what I would do. After a few days, (maybe weeks) of no clean underwear and a stack of dishes in the sink, he may come around. But even then, you may have to spell out what he can do to help. Make a chore chart and while you’re at it, assign a few tasks to those cherubs; this is an “all-hands-on-deck” operation. Everyone has to pull his or her weight.
The important thing to remember with your girls is, it’s not how much time you spend with them that matters, it’s the quality of that time. If a little nap means you can be a fully present parent, then do it. Oh and you want to see what a ‘good” mother looks like? Check the nearest mirror!
Good luck mommy!
Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away!