I AM MOM BECAUSE YOU ARE DAD
An open letter to one of the most important parts of my motherhood journey
Everything is hard. Life, relationships, parenting…
Raising a child is one wild adventure. First, they’re babies. They cry, and need to be fed, and bathed, and dressed, and this, and that, and then more things, and even more things. The tasks seem never-ending and sleep is a rare commodity. Parents grasp at sleep as if maybe they’d been hallucinating the concept all along!
But then they become toddlers, and they’re so full of life that it makes you question how exhausting they were when they were infants only months ago. Now you’re not sleeping, not because they need you for every little thing, but because you’re always running around now. Preschool! Zoo! Park! Playdates! There’s always some new aspect about the world to share with your walking, talking bundle of joy.
Those years don’t last, though, and before long they’re independent beings. Gone are the days when they want to be exactly like you, listening to the same music and playing the same games. Friends are influencing the kind of person they are now, and sometimes that is great! Other times, it’s downright frightening. There’s no way of knowing if you’re making the right choices, but you’re doing your best.
And the next step for them is being a teenager! Those years will be hard, but I expect they’ll be equally as enjoyable too. Having someone who can think and reason and problem solve and contribute! It’ll be like having a best friend living with us. I am terrified of those years. Though I must admit, I’m kind of excited for them too.
Our son will not be a teenager for long, though, and it will be no time at all before he is an adult. It all happens so fast. Parents will still want to be there for everything, do everything that they can with them, hoping to continue sharing these life experiences with their child.
I am so thankful that we get to do all of this together, side-by-side. I honestly can’t imagine doing it alone. There have been times where we’ve been working so many hours to survive, and running to so many different places, it feels like we’re more roommates than a married couple – more than two separate parents to a single child. It’s hard to show affection when we can’t even stay awake long enough to finish our sentences.
And it’s even harder, you know, because we face so many shrouds of darkness as we grow older. We’ve been through the worst of it – pretty much every bad thing you can think of – addiction, cheating, infertility, fostering, financial hardship, college, the death of a parent…
We both struggle with our respective histories of trauma, and we both know my battle is the more outwardly debilitating between us. That is a hard reality to ignore when I’m having an attack daily. I had a number of good years where I could keep myself together, where I carried our family on my back so that we could be the best parents that we could be – and, with time, everyone will eventually break.
Every reign must come to an end.
I pride myself in being a mom, and a damn good one at that, but I haven’t been able to do that without you. Not without the bad that we’ve been through, and certainly not without the good you’ve been doing either. I’ve been doing that whole ‘falling apart’ chapter this year. The burden of everything has been cracking the walls I’ve built to keep my depression and anxiety in order.
And, like a good husband, and a good father, you’ve been here to reinforce it. Where I can’t keep track when and where I’m supposed to go and be, you’ve been able to step up and help me get back on track. Where I can’t keep myself awake long enough to put my laundry in the dryer or pack my lunch, you’ve done it for me without complaining.
Where I’ve started crying because I can’t figure out what to wear today because I’ve forgotten to fold my laundry again – you’ve let me scream and meltdown to get my frustration out, and then dressed me because I am mentally unable to jump those hurdles in my head. Where I’ve started crying because dinner went wrong, or because I don’t have everything I need to clean the house, you’ve calmed me down and taken care of it immediately.
The list could go on and on. It shouldn’t, but this isn’t a fairytale, and we’re not living in this delusion that we’re perfect people living a perfect story with perfect happy endings.
We’re both doing our best, but I know that you’re doing a better job than I am right now. You keep telling me that it’s your turn to carry the weight while I heal from the corrosion of a difficult uphill battle in our parenting adventure. Still, there’s no amount of thanking that I can do for all that you’ve done, all that you keep doing.
I’m a damn good mom, but I only get to be that way because you’re a hell of a dad too. We are in this together, through thick and thin, and when you find yourself knocked down – I’ll carry the extra weight again.
Because no matter how hard life is, relationships are, or parenting is…
We’re in this together.
Thank you for being the best father to our son that I could ask for – because that lets me be the best mother that I can be to him too. This adventure wouldn’t be the same without you, and I am so very fortunate for the life we share with our son.