I remember when we came home from the hospital with Sophie, I had help from my mom during the nights, and Justin was also able to help on a few occasions since he had taken the week off of work. After my mom left and J’s paternity leave was over, I felt it was up to me to take on the care and nurturing of our child. I was a stay at home mom, so obviously it was my job during the day to look after her and surely, I thought, I must also do it all through the night seeing as how Justin has to get up for work in the morning.
It was exhausting, isolating, and I couldn’t take it anymore. Not seeing an obvious solution, I turned to the internet (I think you can guess where this is going…) Like many ventures to be consoled by the internet, this one also failed. I turned to a forum of moms and simply asked how stay at home moms (or SAHM’s as they are abbreviated on the forums,) split responsibilities with their working husbands. To my dismay, the majority of women answered that they took on 99% of the responsibilities noting that it was the “least they could do” since their husbands all worked and they got to stay at home.
So I continued, struggling to handle the responsibility with our new child. If other moms were doing fine without the help, then their must be something wrong with me, and I’d have to learn how to do it solo. I felt guilty for even considering the possibility that my husband should be helping me. After all, I was indebted to him for the privilege of staying at home. Then one day it hit me: I work just as hard as J does. He gets up and goes to work, and I get up and work from home. Yes, caring for children is work, and anyone who tells you it’s not, must not have kids. In fact, I think I work harder as a mother than I ever did working as a groundskeeper and landscaping assistant. Anyway, that was my first revelation. My second revelation was that it took 2 people to create this child, therefore it should take 2 people to care for it. Yes, mothers are predisposed to being nurturing caretakers, but that shouldn’t make them slaves to the children.
I was sick of apologizing for being a SAHM. I was sick of justifying to people why I needed help. If I had come home from a day at the office and said I needed help, people would respond without question, but as a SAHM I felt like people didn’t understand my need for assistance (even other moms!) Well I do, I need help. Once I expressed these concerns to J he was eager to help me. In fact, he admitted wanting to help but not knowing how. I breastfed the baby, so I thought I was the only one who could get up to feed her. Sure, J could help change diapers, but why wake him up if I was already up? As logical as that thought is, the truth is, I needed the support from my partner in the middle of the night and I needed to know that I didn’t have to feel guilty for asking for it.
Now that we’re on baby number 2, I have had better sleep, little to no depression, and J and I are closer than ever. He is the first one to roll of of bed and get Cora. He changes her diaper, brings her to be me to fed, then either burps her or waits for me to be done burping her so he can rock her back to sleep. He takes them off my hands almost the same second as when he walks through the door after work. I cook dinner, then we put Sophie to bed, and I’ll take the newborn back from him so he can unwind and do the things he wants to do. We trade off. If he’s had a hard day I don’t mind taking on 80% of the parenthood to allow him to relax, because I know when I have a hard day he will take the 80 and let me be the 20. It’s a partnership from conception until birth, until we die, or at least that’s what I’m counting on. I’m not exempt from needing my husband’s help just because I stay at home and he goes to work. I need help because I’m a human person who is raising 2 other human persons and I get tired.
If you’re SAHM and you feel like you need help, don’t feel ashamed, don’t apologize, and don’t feel like you can’t ask for what you know you need. I spent way too many nights crying myself to sleep wondering what the solution was. The solution is to ask your partner for help. Whether he works 8 hours a day doing manual labor or 12 hours a day at a desk, you are allowed to ask for help.