An Open Letter To My Husband About Motherhood

Motherhood is a never ending saga of ups and downs. Like for example, the day my three year old spit on the librarian and I had to drag him and our four month old out, in a double stroller, kicking and screaming the whole way. Our frustrations have a tendency to build up and crumble upon us at the slightest misfortune and render us tapped out, leaving dad in charge, if only for a while. It is the uncertain compilation of events that unfold in the duration of a day’s time that can lead us as mothers to succumb to the notion that maybe our title would be better filled by our spouse. This open letter, addressed to my husband, is a reminder for us both (and mother and fathers everywhere) that motherhood isn’t up for grabs.

Dear Husband,

You think that there is little to no difference between being a mother and a father but there is. It’s wide and vast. Thank you for trying to understand what it’s like for me to be a mother, but kindly stop imagining what life looks and feels like in my shoes, attempting to empathize with me or tell me you know what it’s like – you never will. I don’t mean this in a cutting way and although I know you are a good man, you simply aren’t good enough to be the mother of our children.

You think that because we are both parents we should respond the same way and parenting should be equally as easy and equally as difficult. We share many of the same responsibilities and obligations but the polarity of the details of [these things] are incredible. See, being a mother has been set aside purposefully for one person and that one person is me. I am uniquely qualified to fill this role and if you’re trying to take on my position, I kindly want you to know you’ll never be promoted.  

I’m thankful you believe being a father is easy. I think that is truly great. Your patience and love is virtuous and consistent with both our children. But, sometimes, the role of a mother for me is difficult and on most days, daunting. I get angry. I yell. I make a lot of threats and sometimes I am ashamed of my decisions and actions. I don’t need to be reminded that I’m not doing a perfect job or be told life should be easy when I’m home with our children. And yes, maybe sometimes I am not fun or pleasant to be around and from time to time you would rather have me gone than around but I have a never ending obligation to be present for our children. I would rather live with the chaos of being a mother than the guilt of not being around to fulfill my selfish wants and needs. I acknowledge this pull because I am a mother. I fill in spaces you simply cannot. So, thank you for taking fatherhood in stride but please refrain from assuming that motherhood is something I take lightly.

In addition, the pressure and weight of parenting has an ugly way of folding itself over into our sacred marriage and it makes things messy. I love you. I want nothing more than to make you happy and be honorable to you as a wife. I’m sorry that the exhaustion of changing dirty diapers and folding piles of laundry sometimes comes between us.  I try to make everyone happy but quite honestly, some days I’m not even happy myself. Not because my life, our children and you are not enough but because I feel like I’m not enough for you all. I feel inadequate on a daily basis. Please do not subject me to your crass comments or harsh judgments because my tank is near empty. I AM trying. My best might not look pretty but it’s all I’ve got and I’m giving it all I have. Sometimes more than what I have. I am a human who is incredibly imperfect, trying on a regular basis to live a perfect life, raise perfect children and have a perfect marriage.  I’m carrying a heavy load and if it weren’t for grace I would really be in the hole. So, thank you for consistently perusing my heart as a husband but please do not take offense if my attitude fails to mirror my unconditional love for you.  

Being a mother was never your job and you don’t have to take credit for my shortcomings. I know your efforts to understand are sincere but there is little I need you to do than to be a support for me in my times of weakness. Being a mother is intricate by design and I am humbled daily to serve in this extraordinary role, but I don’t need you to undermine it by trying to figure out the impossible. Many have come before me and many will follow. So, thank you for blessing me with the opportunity to help you parent this incredible family we have made together and fulfilling the precious role of a mother. Together, I am certain, we will manage the unmanageable – in both marriage and parenting – and I hope this is a small reminder of my love and dedication to you and our family.
 ***This publication is dedicated to my dear husband, Levi, who loves my every layer and to my mother, Barb, who has taught me through example about what it means to be a mother. To both, I love you.