Sometimes, we get emails from you that could really be their own blog posts.
Today, I’m posting a reader’s recent email (anonymously, with her permission — we’ll call her “Lisa”) because it’s real, honest and begs for your encouragement. Tips, insights and advice are welcome, too.
I am a full-time (okay, a little more than full time) working mother, and my husband is a full time working pastor. We have three sons – ages 5,3, and 1 (well, add a couple months onto each of those).
My problem is when I get home after a busy day. My husband who (depending on the day) has been with the kids (on Tuesdays and Fridays) while I’m at work looks depressed and, dare I say almost “pouts” when I arrive home from work. I am kind of um, tired and disgusted by his attitude, to which I tell him (rather forcefully) to leave and go to work. He then tells me that he doesn’t feel free to leave, because I am angry. I tell him it is NOT up to him to “make” me feel happy, and, that it would be really cool to me if he left and just went and did something he liked.
Why are men such babies? If they do help, they whine (whether consciously or unconsciously) and moan about it…. anything other than what they want to do. I just struggle with the fact that I’m trying to spend time with each one of these little human beings and really know and love them individually, and get the house done, cook, laundry, etc… all in a span of five hours or so. Gosh, am I freaking insane?
Then, people around me wonder why I am short tempered etc… or act upset with my kiddos. My fuse is pretty short, and I’m working on lengthening it, but I am so frustrated with life right now that I could just throw all the crap away and start over.
Also adding to the stress is that we moved to our current location five months ago… away from 16 years of friendships and our family… for my husband’s job.
I also left a near-full scholarship to a private school after attending 1 term so that we could move. I am trying not to regret my choices, and I know transitions take time, but I’d like to go home and continue on with my once comfortable and supported life!
I didn’t know if ya’ll had any resources to help moms with organization, anger management, or to teach me how to be okay with Cheerios on my floor? I just need help, period. I feel so out of balance these days.
P.S. I told “Lisa” we do have resources for working moms listed on our site, including books, magazines, websites and blogs. Feel free to check those out for yourself!
13 thoughts on “Anonymous Guest Post from an Exhausted, Pissed-Off Working Mom”
When I’m burnt out… I turn on Dora or Diego (or something similar) and let him watch it, but to make sure I really get all of my stress out, I do the running/jumping etc. that they prompt the kids to do… Regardless of whether my son does it or not… so when Diego says “SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE” I shake shake shake. I feel ridiculous…but I get a little workout in and it helps relieve some stress that I would otherwise relieve by gritting my teeth…
As for cheerios…I have cheerios all over my floor quite often… We’re working on that area of our life 😉
I don’t have any advice for you, but I do want to let you know that it is so okay for you to vent about this. And it’s also so okay for you to be so frustrated that you could throw the box of cheerios on the floor yourself! it sounds like you need a way to get rid of the stress (or some of it) for your own sanity.
yes, men are just as you described… they are so good at seeing what they are looking at, but not everything else that is around them.
I also need to work on my fuse, so I can relate. Sounds like you are juggling a crazy amount and have very little support in a new town. Easy for me to say, I know, but give yourself a break. It’s ok to have cheerios on the floor. Sometimes my husband asks me why it doesn’t seem to bother me that people see our house when it’s messy (that would be 99% of the time), and I respond that I have actually seen other houses on “normal” days and they are all the same. Of course, I also want to ask him why he doesn’t just clean it himself if it bothers him so much…
Hope your week gets better. Sending calming and supportive thoughts! -Stephanie
The author of this email concluded, a bit unexpectedly, by asking for help with organization, anger management, and other skills that aren’t really going to solve her problem. It is clear that she is brimming with resentment toward her husband and the choices they have made, presumably for his benefit.
I have noticed that many women who are unhappy with their male partners cope by chalking up their disappointments to “the way men are,” which (a) maintains the status quo and (b) lends an air of hopelessness to the situation, obscuring both partners’ responsibility for their unhappiness. I’ve also noticed that some women, when faced life stressors they can’t entirely control, work very hard to maintain an illusion of control by imagining that things would be better if only they were more organized, more centered, more focused, etc. In the short term, it takes the sting away. But in the long term, martyrdom is a harmful coping strategy.
My advice to this stressed-out mom is to attempt an ongoing, honest, productive, respectful dialog with her significant other about the myriad ways in which their current lifestyle isn’t working. Men don’t need to be infantalized or criticized over trivia like Cheerios on the floor. They need to live up to meaningful expectations that are as high as those we place on ourselves. If we treat our partners like mopey, incompetent boobs, they will never rise to the occasion. If both partners are willing to work together and admit their own mistakes and faults, then they might get somewhere.
well said. joking about our husbands only helps for a few minutes. i completely agree.
that said, if you have opposite schedules than your spouse and your children are at ages where they need almost constant attention, it is understandable that she is so frustrated. sometimes it is next to impossible to find time to have a “real” conversation with your husband when one of you is not exhausted and you just need to power through as best you can for a while.
I also agree with the anonymous comment and Stephanie’s. This email is venting which we all need every now and then, but I also hear a lot of regret and resentment that will only grow if a conversation isn’t had with her husband. I’m a working mom of a 1, 3, and 5 year old as well so I’m familiar with the stress and Cheerios. I know for me, I’ve had to own up to creating positive situations. Although it’s perfectly fine to vent, I own my attitude afterwards. Choosing a “glass half full” approach instead of “glass half empty” has really helped me along with complete open communication with my spouse. And most importantly, I’ve given myself some slack. I thought I was disappointing my husband by all I couldn’t do, but found out he is actually amazed by what I can accomplish. Best of luck to her!
I think this is very real and a very honest email/post.
It would be shocking to hear that we haven’t all been “there” at some point.
I, myself, am a full time working mom and my husband works full time. I have an unrealistic hope for organization and cleanliness and, well, just order in our lives. I say unrealistic because I’ve recently learned that I have 3 jobs actually. 1. Being a wife, 2. Being a Mom, and 3.Working… well let’s tack on a 4th .. being Gen, myself. Bottom line is… something has to give! If the dishes are in a pile in the sink/counter/table overnight or for a day… well that’s how it’s got to be. If the laundry sits in the wash / dryer for a day (or longer) and needs an extra cycle (or two) … well that’s how it’s got to be. If my toddler has yogurt & granola for dinner AGAIN because we both got home super late and cannot even begin to think of what to make for dinner…well that’s how it’s got to be.
We have to give ourselves a little grace and forgiveness.
I COMPLETELY understand the short fuse thing. I have to count slowly from 1-10 (out loud) and then from 10-1 while doing diaper changes lately because my toddler is in a “fighting me about everything” stage. … and when we’re already running late to make it to the sitter’s and for me to get to work.. UGH I just want to scream. Instead I count slowly and try to make through one more moment of not blowing it. It works – most of the time.
As for frustrations with husbands… I cannot speak to yours, but I can say that with mine I’ve had to be very honest and direct about how I’m feeling and my expectations. We’ve had to come to many compromises with my expectations, but honestly, it’s better.
I really hope this mama can breathe and give herself some grace, because we all need it.
Bottom line, however, is it’s your mentality and mindset that has to alter. That’s the only thing you can control.
I think that what happens when you first get home is critical to being a working mom. Long, long ago on a TV show a woman commented that she spent all day every day looking forward to getting home to see her children, but every day she’d get home, the kids would be screaming, she would start yelling at her husband and it would be awful. I could visualize it happening to me and it made a big impression on me.
I have a 2 year old and a 2 month old. I have a long and stressful commute and I am breastfeeding. When I get home, this is what can happen – the baby is screaming, my husband is stressed out and cranky. Sometimes I am mad at him for feeding her already when I need to breastfeed, sometimes he is mad at me for getting home late. He is usually stressed because there were things he wanted to, I am stressed because it’s been a long day and I still have a lot left to do.
This is what I do – it is a conscious decision on my part not to let a stressful situation ruin every day for the rest of my life.
I completely ignore the screaming baby for a few seconds while I greet each member of the family personally, starting with a kiss for my husband to show him how important he is to me. Then, I listen to him vent for 30 seconds or so (we all need to vent, and he’s usually frustrated for some reason). Next I encourage him to work out in the garage or outside away from the kids for the next half hour. I’m careful not to pick a fight or discuss anything important until later, no matter how tempting it is.
By the time I have finished feeding the baby, we are both a lot less stressed out and the rest of the evening is usually fine.
I can relate to much of your email. Resentment is a killer, I’m stilling working on that.
I just read Raising Happiness and I found it really helpful with many great insights and tips into parenting, living in the moment and keeping cool.
It might be worth a shot. I hate a messy house too so, I ended up hiring a housekeeper to clean mine. Totally worth it! I come home to a clean house every 2 weeks and I don’t take the dirt as personally anymore, it’s the housekeepers problem now. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling.
I can totally relate to you, Lisa. I agree with anonymous that it seems the most important thing you likely need to do is come to peace with some of the decisions you have recently made. Maybe you will conclude that you regret those decisions but in my experience it’s better to decide you regret them but then accept that decision and move on. I suspect your short fuse is more a result of this ambivalence than anything else. There is certainly a lot of frustration (so much it seems really impossible to handle all of it in an enlightened manner) involved in being a working mom, I don’t want to be preachy because I am as miserable as you and need to do something about it. I know I have to come to grips with and accept some of the life choices I have made in the last few years, and I think I’m going to need some therapy to get me thru that. But that’s my two cents. Cheerios on the floor just take on a lot more significance than they should when they actually represent a deeper resentment you are carrying around inside. I wish you the very best. You are not alone.
One more thing I forgot to mention. Remember that both moving and starting a new job are some of the most stressful things in life so you need to give yourself and your husband a break. This is a tough time even if everything were peachy keen. And the kids are also adjusting to their new life. If nothing else, this is a reason to realize you can’t do it all, no matter how hard you try. You can’t work full time and have a Better homes and garden house no matter what you do. It’s not gonna happen. Everyone’s house looks like yours. Trust me. If I posted a picture of my house right now you’d laugh. Just keep it as sanitary as possible. I did the housekeeper thing too and it is totally worth it. Every two weeks is enough and it’s money well spent if you can squeeze it into your budget.
Did I write this post??? I swear to God (and I don’t do that) this is my exact life. My husband is also a part-time pastor and I work full time. The only advice that I can give is what I have done. I have come home and noticed the major attitude that my husband exhibits. I calmly talked to him and let him know that it makes me extremely guilty and uncomfortable working when I come home to an attitude. So I could either quit the job and take care of the children or he could help the family by providing support and a happy disposition. I probably am extremely pissed off today because I realized that working full time doesn’t really even matter since day care costs are eating up my raise!
I have been there and am still dealing with many of these same issues. A few points of advice:
– You need to communicate with your husband – he needs to understand your frustrations before it gets worse.
– As for your career – Are you happy with your job? Do you want to go back to school? You mentioned a near full scholarship that you had. Maybe you feel you are wasting your time at your job. Look into courses nearby and scholarship opportunities – the same opportunities may exist nearby.
– Are our husbands so oblivious that they think when they “help” with housework, they should get a gold star! This is a societal thing that unfortunately we can not change overnight.