Saturday, February 21, 2009

Teetering, tottering - the act of balancing. That doesn't rhyme but it's close. Okay, not really.

I am a stay at home mom.

I devote every waking hour (and very often my sleeping hours) to my children - raising them, worrying about them, trying to mold them into somewhat normal people. House responsibilities are chiefly mine - I usually don't take out the garbage on purpose mostly so I feel like My Man is doing something. He does his share of dishes and putting away laundry (the bane of my existence), but it's usually just ME.

And sometimes I struggle.

Because I know that I CAN'T do it alone, nor SHOULD I. Nurturing our children is my primary responsibility - but it is not my sole purpose in life. Nor is working, his. I am just as much a parent as My Man is; we share the job of raising our three boys. And while household chores are usually mine, that is just because I'm the one who is home all day - not because I am a woman.

But I can't do it all. I CAN'T.

So here's the thing. Every time I ask for more help with the kids or around the house, I feel guilty. My Man has no time to call his own. He works 24/7. He's bishop of a very very (very very very very very) needy ward. The guy doesn't have two minutes put together. Whenever he's fulfilling one obligation, he's ignoring three others. Because he just can't be everywhere at once.

He does an excellent job of making me feel like I'm his #1 priority (and I am), and we work very hard to make sure we still get alone time at least once a week. We communicate. We talk. We share our deepest darkest feelings. Our relationship is just ... too pure and perfect to talk about here.

But it's never, ever enough.

Does this mean I'm needy? Does this mean I'm weak? Because every time he kills himself to spend more time with me, I'm reminded of all the other responsibilities he's ignoring. All the people who need or want him. And oh, I hear about it too. Members whining that they needed him to give a blessing, pay a bill, counsel until all hours of the night, etc., etc. And instead he was home watching a movie with me. I'm a sinner. A selfish, selfish sinner.

I can't help thinking of all the wives whose husbands travel for work. Or are in the army. Or divorced mothers or widows. They have it a thousand times worse off - I should just be happy, right? Just shut up and be happy ....

So why can't I shut up?

Where do you draw the line? How do you balance? When do you say "enough is enough" as opposed to "I can be stronger"?

Sometimes I feel like maybe I'm not SUPPOSED to do it by myself, but I SHOULD be able to. Because whenever I break down and ask for help, I just feel like a weakling. Especially since I know My Man is already giving me everything he has.

.... what do you do?


wonder woman said...

I've just discovered what I think your name is -- Becky. Mind if I call you Becky?

Becky, girl, I feel ya. I seriously could've written the gist of this post. I'm not "supposed" to do it all, but I should be able to. And I can't. And I feel guilty everytime I ask for help because Superman works two jobs and I'm home ALL DAY.

As far as balancing......I just do all I can (sometimes only all I want.) If that's not enough, thn hopefully I've done the important stuff first and what's not done can wait. Some days I feel particularly ambitious and do a great job. Others......not so much.

Unfortunately, I don't have a better answer than that. Let me know if someone offers a really good one.

For what it's worth, you seem to do an excellent job, the little bit of your life I've seen. Mommy Mondays, dates/talks with your man each week, cooking without all the american are *seriously* a woman worth emulating.

Something that might ease your burden -- hire some help! A gardener, perhaps? No? Too soon? Sorry. Just trying to give you a real reason to smile. ;)

Kazzy said...

He sounds like a great guy. I agree that when we are stay-at-home moms we get the brunt of the work load. t is still tough though. I was at home for 18 years and started working again three years ago to help offset mission costs for our oldest, college expenses, etc. It is almost like everyone still thinks I am home all day. Transitioning for our family has been difficult, but we keep trying to work together to find a solution. Once your boys get older you will get a little relief!

heidizinha said...

I was just thinking this morning about our conversation that we had at Christmas time. The one where you asked your husband to come home because you had had a particularly tough day, but then you felt super guilty because you thought you had taken away some spiritual experience. But I really think the point of that story was that he chose you. Because the Lord is first, but family is next. and just because He is number one doesn't mean that we ignore the almost as important number two.

Honey, God gave man a woman to be a helpmeet (however you spell it) because He knew man couldn't do it alone. And if He thought woman could do it alone, he would have made her first and forgotten the man altogether.

Don't let those Brazilian ladies give you slack. He is where he needs and undoubtably WANTS to be when he is with you.

NatalieHemingway said...

To quote my daughter's favorite book "Pinkalicious": "you get what you get and you don't get upset... but I got VERY upset". I think that we all feel this way at some point. Sometimes it's ok to get "upset" and be selfish. You're doing what you can and you and your hubby ARE getting alone time. DO NOT feel guilty about that. Ward crises will still be there tomorrow.

Kimberly said...

I know how this feels, so, so acutely. Neil's the Branch President of our very needy branch, plus the local eye doctor. It's hard to ask for more help not just because it's hard to ask more of him, but it's hard to find a spare moment to do it in.

I haven't figured it out. Some days are fine, but some days I feel like I'm drowning in it, you know?

Rachel said...

There are so many days when I feel like this. I feel like I just can't make it. There is just too much on my plate and my husband doesn't seem to notice. And it's hard. There are just days that I want to give up. One thing I have had to learn since screaming baby was born is that something's gotta give (to cliche you). And since I gave up a couple things in my life that weren't absolutely necessary things have been a little easier. Not to say I don't still have bad days. But when I don't stress about things that are not crucial to my family's survival, I don't seem to have quite so many bad days.

And you know what? I don't think that there is anything wrong with your husband sitting at home watching a movie with you. Isn't family the central unit of the church? Don't feel guilty. OR at least try not to. I know how hard it can be to just switch off guilt.

That was kind of scattered. I hope you understand what my point was. And I hope you don't mind the novel!

Jen said...

And this, my dear, is the story of our lives. At least me and all of my friends. Except mine keeps getting complicated by my own big callings (could I PLEASE not be president of something???) and the fact that I work about three days a week.

How is everything that needs to be done supposed to happen? I certainly can't answer that question, because I can assure you it isn't all getting done around here. I finally decided last year (in the throes of major overwhelm-ed-ness) that you can't try to do/be everything and expect to do/be everything well.

It just isn't going to happen. The more you're doing, the more you're likely to slip. So my sanity has come from accepting lower personal standards in certain things, so the ones I feel are most important can be done well.

And as far as The Man goes, I try to shuffle off the things that have to do with kid interaction - like bedtime, supervising clean-up, story time, etc., as well as the cleaning things he doesn't mind doing. Then I don't feel guilty - because he should be spending that time with his kids, and it isn't a chore.

It just feels like it is when I have a bazillion other things I could be doing.

Wow. I think this is the longest comment I've ever left. Lucky you.

::Jan:: said...

My kids are bigger, but it still isn't fun to be alone. My hubby works 24/7 as well. He is not active in the church, but he literally has to go to work every single day. It is really depressing at times. I wish I lived closer so that I could rescue you once in awhile.

Another reason you be glad to be on the American soil. Well, we are needy here too I guess. :)

Take Care Becky. Is that it?

Denece said...

I don't think that you should ever feel guilty about spending time with your man. Five bucks says that he's way more excited about staying home and watching a movie with you then solving the wards problems one needy person at a time. He's probably relieved to have you ask him to stay with you, it probably gives him a break he needs. But if you still feel guilty about it, call and schedule appointments with him through the executive secretary.

Good luck!

Boy Mom said...

Aww sweetie, big hug coming at ya, and yes, I'm wearing a bra ;)

I'm cough,43 cough, cough, I remember when I had three little boys and a VERRRRRRYYYY busy husband. I felt guilty, demanding,and a few other words when I wanted to be with him so I tried to man up and do it all myself, care for babies, house, yard, callings, friends.

To h*** with that crap. your relationship with that incredible man and those little boys are what matters most.

Guilt implies that you're judging yourself, remember who teaches us to partake of the fruit of judgment? The father of lies is also the father of guilt and 'you can do it all yourself'.

Our loving father told us not to eat that fruit, his greatest desire is that we become one as couples. That is the example the needy ward needs from you two. It's no coincidence that you are teaching the marriage and family relations class at this crucial time in your young relationship.

If Father wanted us to do it alone Eve wouldn't have been created. "Neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man."

So back to 43 year old me, I don't regret any time we spent together as a family when our boys were young, I do regret how little time my guilt in asking for help and his efforts to be super provider, spiritually and temporally, kept us from having.

You are an amazing women of God, look how many looong comments you got from women who are thankful you said what we all feel.

Adorable Hubby and I have a little saying, Guilt sucks...and never the right things.

Kim (Davis) Loudon said...

OHHHHHHHHHHH... I don't even know where to start or what to say. I have told you a million times that I am blown away by you... because I LIVED there, and I KNOW how difficult JUST LIVING there is. Add raising 3 children and having your hub be BISHOP to that...and you got yourself an extra difficult situation. Motherhood is hard enough! NONE of us can do it all. We can get the most important stuff in however, through moderation and constant re prioritizing (good, better, best). MUCH good MUST go out the window in order to make time for the BEST. There is a time and a season for everything...we can do everything...just not all at once. Lately, I have been charting everything that MUST be done, and allocating ONE chore per day...and the kids help, one kid centered activity, personal study, and have allocated "me time" to each day, but it has to be something DIFFERENT each day of the week. Eric and I designate 15 minutes of quality time together per day (when we are both home) and 1 date night per wk. THAT IS ALL WE GET to keep the love alive. I try to do something out of the ordinary for him during the week even though we are not together...act of service or love note etc.
Eric saw the kids for a total of about 2 hours this week. He supposedly does the dishes as his contribution to our home....our dishes only get done about 2x's a week. He takes out the trash, and mows the lawn. That is all I can ask due to his schedule. I feel blessed, however, that he is an equal partner with the kids when he is home.
It is especially hard in your circumstances, however. The Lord is aware of your sacrifices....NO DOUBT you will be blessed. Enough will be enough when you COME HOME...where 30 year olds are rarely bishops\"/ I think you are truly amazing!

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Oh, my lovely, lovely friend, I can totally relate to what you are saying. I am glad to read that your commenters feel the same way too. The journey of being a SAHM and wife to a busy man is far from easy. There are days I put up the stiff upper lip and then there are others, honestly, when I completely fall apart.

What you are feeling is in no way selfish. You must know that virtually every woman on the planent goes through the same emotions.

Lucky for us, though, we have managed to create find a network of bloggers who are able to lend an ear when we need it most...especially when our husbands may be too busy.


Pam said...

Becky I can't believe how needy you are ;) I echo my sister-in-laws (Denece) comments. When Jared was Bishop Our Stake President told Jared that he needed to NOT make the same mistake he did when he served as a Bishop, which was he spent so much time doing that calling that he had neglected to spend the essential time with his children and wife. As a result after he was released he remembers looking at his wife and thinking "Oh no, I don't even know her anymore!" And had to work extra hard to in restoring what was lost. He also said that He will only be a Bishop for a season but will be a Father and Husband for eternity.
Your feelings of being a weakling though are only Satan trying to make you feel bad. He knows that if you spend that little amount of time with your hubby what it does for you emotionally and physically and does NOT want those moments to happen because it does help you be better and it is what God wants to happen. So continue savoring those small moments of time you get to be with each other. You are sooooo worth it!

kiwibabee said...

I could have written this. I too feel so guilty when I ask hubby to do things for me. We haven't been on a date for over 3 months. I know I am home all day and should be able to get everything done by myself. But I don't feel that way, I am no supermom. And being in an entirely different country throws off your identity. I know I get depressed somedays and that doesn't help me getting anything done around the house.

janae said...

Um, well, unlike everyone else I don't have anything wonderfully comforting or reassuring to say. I just want to say good luck as you try to find the balance that works for you two!

Oh, and while you maybe should be careful with hiring gardeners (my hubby and I chatted for quite a while about how yours robbed you - so sad), you could always get a maid. :) We always had one internationally. Partly to give good church members a job. Mostly because my mom COULD NOT do it alone. (Oh wait, that sounds familiar ...)

But seriously, good luck.

That.Girl said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment!

Don't beat yourself up too much. I do know how you feel, though my "man" isn't devoting his life to work, he'd rather spend time with his friends and the bar than with his own precious children... Remind yourself that he can't save the entire world himself and you can't either. Someone, somewhere is going to be let down, and it can't always be you. You and your husband need to spend time together, and he needs to spend time with his kids. It doesn't make you selfih or a sinner. Not one bit! ((Hugs))

Jill Fellow said...

That is the great question of life. My husband wasn't working, and I had him around all the time. And I was always like, "Go get a job. Stop spending my money!" And then he got a job. Now he's gone all the time, doing what he loves, working so hard, and I have to explain to Quinn all day why her dog-dog (toy poodle) can't talk to Bob-bob (what he calls Tim, her dad). "Bob-bob home please," he says. It kills me. Then he gets home and does the dishes, and I get mad because when he finally gets in bed he brings his laptop. I just don't think any of us are very good at finding this balance. One thing that does work, is to switch up the way you serve him. Doing something different! Do one of his jobs. It changes the spirit a little bit and makes the balance easier to see for just a minute. But when you need to, you have to say, "Enough is enough." don't forget that. And you are not a sinner. If fact I think I am the sinner because never fee like one.

Natasha said...

I've asked myself the same question many times. Um... ya, I have no answers. Other than, it will get better one day.

If you communicate well, if you're not impatient with each other, that will be enough to get you through without damaging your marriage. I think.

And sex doesn't have to take long. And when people gossip and complain about how you're taking their bishop away from them just so you can watch a movie, just say, "Oh for goodness sake! We were having sex, okay! Hot, sweaty sex. Do you need a play-by-play?!" Maybe then they will shut up.

Kellie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. House hunting was a fun/scary experience here. I totally understand your post and I'll write more later cuz I'm definitely coming back to your blog (if that's ok with you).

Mrs. Organic said...

I feel for you, I do. It's a hard place you're in. Thanks for giving me some much needed perspective.

Thankfully, being bishop won't last forever (although I'm sure it feels like it much of the time). You have my admiration for being so generous with his time. I hope things smooth out enough for you to get a breather. :)

Hilary said...

The balancing act is crazy! I feel like I'm SO lucky to stay home with my girls, but at the same time, at the end of the day I'm burned out and want my hubby to come in and make everything better and play with the girls and cuddle with me and get the dishwasher unloaded ('cause I hate it) . . . but then he's been at work all day, has presidency meetings and visits to go on, and would like a few minutes of down time too. Maybe like a billion years from now, we'll all look back on this and laugh at how seriously we stressed over this miniscule amount of mortal time when all we should've been doing was our best to be kind to others, treat them like we've been taught to, and enjoy our time with our loved ones as much as possible! Sounds easy on paper (or, um, screen!)

Real Mom, Real Life said...

So, I read this the day you posted and I had to digest it for a while. This post hits SO CLOSE TO HOME for me.

My husband isn't bishop, thank goodness, but he is in the bishopric. And he runs his own company. Try juggling 200 employees without some drama.

He does an amazing job making me feel important and helping the kids. He even will do house work and help run the kids places.

We still go on our weekly dates. But as I watch his tired, tired eyes, I know what he really needs is rest. And I want him to have that rest, but I just can't do it all.

I don't think we are supposed to do it all ourselves, but sometimes I feel like I have to be strong, there is no option for weakness. Yet, I need help.

I totally feel your pain.

Hang in there. You must have an amazing amount of faith. It shows in your blog. That's why I like this one so much. You are just a normal girl, trying to get through life. It inspires me to be a better person. And this is all coming from someone I have never met. I imagine the people in your life are equally, or more so, influenced by your goodness.

BTW, I nominated you on Mormon Mommy Blogs!

Amber said...

Balance is a hard thing. I think it may be one of the biggest things that I need to learn while in this life. I get sucked into one thing only to neglect 5 million others. I had a very hard time when my hubby was the scoutmaster and working a very demanding job and we had three very small children and one on the way. It was hard not to be bitter and angry at him and 'the church'.

I honestly don't remember how I dealt with it other than moaning and groaning and complaining (I know that's not helpful) but I do know that life moves in stages. Now he's scoutmaster again (3 years later) and I don't feel like I'm in such a needy place as a wife. Our kids are older, he's got more time because he's not at such a demanding job etc.

Anyway, you'll be buoyed up if you ask for it. I know that.

Anyway, I'll be poking around getting to know you better- feel free to be a peeping tom if you need to. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

Sharla said...

Wow, you're husband is a Bishop? Holy cow, girl. It's funny though, I was just thinking about this yesterday. I am a whiner and very selfish with my husband's time and I always tease him that he'll never be a Bishop because of me. He says good. ;) But it's true, all I can say is that no matter what else he has his family and wife come first. always. And that is the right way so you cannot feel guilty. I need to go back a ways and find out why you're in oldest brother served there and we've talked a lot about it. I can only imagine how needed your husband really is. But I can also say that he needs to know how you need him too. You need him most.

JustRandi said...

I started a replu to this post when there were only a few comments. Sounds like you really hit a nerve for people!

I think you're an amazing woman with so many talents.
It seems to me like you do the exact right thing when you try to make his life easier and better when he's home, and then let him do his best to prioritize where he needs to be.

Heather of the EO said...

Oh how I hear you. I wish I had answers. I think it takes a very long time to even come close to figuring it all out. And this seasons of parenting makes it very very very hard. You are SO not alone in your feelings.

Christa Jeanne said...

Awwww, That Girl, I so feel for you!!! Juggling a hubby and kids is out of my scope of experience, but goodness, trying to balance everything is the quest of a lifetime. I'm in a place where it's a struggle to accomplish all that is needful (work, exercise, social life, spiritual nourishment) - and I only have myself to watch after! I can't even imagine having others so wholly reliant upon you (but at least you do have your man - finding one would definitely check one worry off my list, lol, not that it would make everything sunshine and roses).

Ditto what Pam said. Don't let ward members get on your case for being jealous of your husband's time. If they need a blessing, that's what home teachers are for. That's why there are committees and delegation in the Church - it shouldn't be a one-man show to run a ward. When it comes to prioritizing life, God is first and one's spouse comes second. Period. Then the kids, and then the job, actually - after all, we have to be temporally cared for. THEN, after those, is where the job fits in (wish I could find the reference, but that comes straight from a GA, per a BYU religion class). I had a chat with a member of my stake presidency about juggling it all, and he said that there are entire weeks when he or when the president don't do anything church-related because of work or family needs. That's just life! So don't let that worry you.

You're amazing, and while wards may come and go, you and Your Man will be together forever. Someday the kid craziness will be done, even, so never neglect nourishing yourself and your unique ThatGirl-ness (teehee, I love referring to you by nom de plume. It makes me giggle). Hang in there, hon! Lots of love!