Me for a Day

I knew, of course, he’d never admit to any sort of struggle. I’d prepared myself for the smug leer. The nonchalant shrugs. The repeated “it’s easy“, tumbling from his mouth as though he didn’t even need to consider his answer, when I asked him how it had been. But just because I knew it was coming, didn’t make it any easier to stomach.

 

When I swapped places with my husband for a day, I’d hoped for a bit more understanding. Instead, I discovered we’re not only on different pages, we’re not even reading the same book.

 

It seems silly in print, but I’ve shed tears over this. When all you’ve wanted for years, is someone to finally say “Thank you. I appreciate what you do.” But instead, you get someone telling you, “It’s easy, this life you lead.” It’s a little bit soul shattering. Every difficult day I’ve had. Every time I’ve wondered how I’ll keep on doing it. Each night that I’ve tossed and turned with the guilt of somehow always falling short. All of it withered and belittled and made worthless in one fell swoop. Of course, he doesn’t realise that. Doesn’t get it. Yet that’s what it did, that small sentence. It diminished five years of laborious motherhood, into nothing more than a long stream of days off.

 

I was tired when I returned from London that day. I’d been up since 5am and my train home didn’t hit Leeds until after 9pm. “Just a normal day for me,” he said. I didn’t want it to be a contest. I just wanted him to have the ability to empathise when there are days that sometimes, the moment he walks through the door, I need him to take over, just so I can breathe for a minute. I wanted him to see how lonely it can be. I wanted him to know that sometimes it’s hard. Relentless. Bone wearingly exhausting. I just wanted to hear “I get it, now. Thank you.”

 

“Just a normal day for me” were his words. Yes, it was tiring. It was a long and draining 17 hours. But it was also great. It was conversation with other adults. It was the liberating feeling that comes with travelling around, unhindered by small humans and armfuls of the paraphernalia that comes with them. It was people genuinely valuing the words that were spilling excitedly from my mouth. It was glorious.

 

Yes he works hard. Yes, he pays the bills. And maybe I ought to thank him more too. The difference is, though, he has other people that do. A wage slip at the end of each month; the tangible reward of a job well done. The handshakes and the dinners. The ingratiating mentions in the company emails. The gratitude and the appreciation rained down on him in the work place, because we praise and we value “work”; just not when it’s restricted to the confines of our home and family. For me and for others like me, it’s day after day after day. Long shifts, few breaks, minimal reward. And nobody there to tell you what a stellar job you’re doing. I look at my humans and sometimes, that’s enough. Knowing that they’re mine. That I made them and grew them and raise them; that’s all the reward I need. But other times, I yearn for thanks in this thankless task. I long for the day when he’ll say, “I couldn’t do what you do. It’s not easy. I’m grateful for you. For the sacrifices you’ve made, for the hours you put in and for the love that you give. Without you, we couldn’t do this.”

 

Somedays, I just need to feel, needed.

4 thoughts on “Me for a Day”

  1. From another mum. I couldn’t do what you do. I couldn’t be at home. I had to go back to work, and study, because, quite frankly that is the easy option compared to being mum and the relentless days and weeks of school runs. It is so hard.

    Being at work is a guaranteed lunch break (at some point in the day); it’s a chance to switch off to being needed every minute of the day; it’s knowing that if you need the toilet them off you trot, unhindered by small people. And yes, it is challenging in its own way, but you are rewarded and thanked.

    1. I do envy you working Mums and the “freedom” that you get in the workplace, but then also I can barely get the kids to school on time each morning, without having some sort of mental breakdown, so I genuinely don’t think I could ever get my shit together enough to run a brush through my hair and get myself to work too!

  2. This all day. I totally can relate to every word. I’ve started to realise recently though that waiting for appreciation that may never come is only making me sad and disappointed. Unfortunately society and often the people closest to us don’t see the value of what we do and it’s almost soul destroying some days to have not one bit of gratification or thanks. All I can offer is that you’re so not alone in this and regardless of what anyone else thinks or how they measure your value, you’re doing the hardest and most important job in the world. Plus I guess we shouldn’t hold it against the spouses; they couldn’t do our job for longer than a day!

    1. It is totally soul destroying, when the people we do everything for, see and value none of it 🙁 You’re right though, I shouldn’t allow myself to get hung up on it, or I’m only going to be constantly disappointed. Hoping that when our pup arrives, she’ll be my ally and give me lots of slobbery thank yous!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *