Shouldering the majority of parental responsibilities might seem a heavy burden, but there are ways around it.
Q.- My husband has a job that frequently takes him out of town for week-long stretches. He loves his job and I’m grateful that the salary enables me to stay home with our children, but I still can’t help feeling resentful that I have to do all the parenting. Some days it feels like I might as well be a single mom. Lately, I’ve been going through these slumps where I’ve been feeling sorry for myself and lashing out at my family. I just miss my husband and am tired of doing it all.
A.- I can certainly understand the struggles of shouldering the majority of parental responsibilities. The duties are exhaustive and the needs endless. You’re certainly entitled to feel tired; for that no one would blame you. There probably isn’t a mother on Earth who at one time didn’t feel discontented or defeated by the nonstop needs of her children. Everyone has emotional slumps where some days feels worse than others. Don’t beat yourself too much over these feelings … unless these thoughts and feelings have become your new normal.
Feeling sad every now and then because you’re tired and miss your husband is OK, but if you’re struggling with emotional “slumps” on a regular basis and to the point that it’s affecting your parenting, you might want to speak to a doctor.
First, however, you would also want to discuss these feelings with your husband, as he might be able to suggest ways to be more available during the week. Your husband is your partner; you should give him the opportunity to help. You may even find that he envies the time you get with the children and feels equally “slumpish” at the time he’s missing away from his family, or that he might also be struggling with some resentful feelings since he’s the only source of income in your household. This communication should help ease some of the resentment you’ve been fighting, as it might help you both walk in each other’s shoes.
If you are financially able, perhaps he can cut hours from work. Or, if he can’t get more flexible hours, perhaps you’ll be able to afford to hire a babysitter or someone to help out with the chores once a week. I know finding time and money is always easier said than done, but if even the smallest of cutbacks allows you a little more breathing room it would be worth investigating alternatives.
Sometimes the act of talking about things and plan-making is enough to give you a sense of control over your situation and ease your mind, but if you’re still struggling with anger, resentment, and daily sadness, then you should definitely talk to a professional. Just because you’ve been feeling the way you do doesn’t mean that you’re ungrateful, that you hate being a mother, or that you resent your husband. It just means you need a little extra help and care. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you a bad person: it makes you a smart one.