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How Did I Become Such a Resentful and Exhausted Mom?

Photograph by Twenty20

Becoming a mom changes us in numerous ways, we all know this. But one thing's for sure: We start seeing more—we notice more, we do more and we try to be more to others. Because of this, we also lose some autonomy and some of ourselves in the process.

Think about it. We constantly notice what needs to be done around the house and for our kids. Things that never felt urgent before I had children suddenly are. We are always off to the next thing, and our brains pick up them all up like magnets: We need to get to the store, our kids are due for another dentist appointment, dinner needs to be prepped and the toilets need to be cleaned. Our brains are constantly being stimulated and it seems impossible to turn them off.

If I don't push forward with the routine throughout the day, they don't happen, and if I forget to do something it becomes an extra thing to do later and would send me into overdrive. Trying to keep up becomes a sport.

Moms are constantly on high-alert, armed and ready for the next thing because we have to be. And with that comes ignoring things that need to be done for ourselves. Either we don't have room to notice them anymore, or we just push our needs aside to accommodate for others so often it becomes a habit.

Are we to blame because we expect too much? Or are our husbands to blame because they don't notice enough?

And often, we feel like we're the only ones in the relationship pulling the weight. I've had so many discussions with fellow moms about the reality of being in the shower, and having our kids blast through the door looking for a snack or batteries, meanwhile our husbands are much more available, and nobody notices.

A friend and I were talking about exactly this the other day. We were venting about how we see and feel things our husbands never do, and how it seems like their lives didn't change as much as ours had.

She told me her husband was still going to the gym everyday after work. He would come home and she would be upset but not say anything, until one day when she couldn't hide it any longer. She told him she wanted him to stop going.

He sat down and said, "So, are you mad at me because I am not giving up going to the gym even though it makes me a better husband and father, or are you mad because you have given up so many of the things you used to do that you love, things that would make you happier?"

When she said that, it really put things into perspective for me. I had given up a lot of things in order to try and make this perfect little life for our children, and the result was constant resentment and exhaustion.

Perhaps it's because we notice more and provide before they have to ask. Perhaps it's because they know we will say yes and dad will give them a different answer.

But I think really it's because we have set the tone in our home that it is our job to make sure they have all they need at all times, even though we're neglecting ourselves.

When we become moms we seem to develop a sixth sense that allows us to practically predict if Tommy is going to have a breakdown after a play date, so we rush into the rescue and try to diffuse the situation before it explodes. And when our partner doesn't notice these things and try to take the pressure off, it can be maddening.

Are we to blame because we expect too much? Or are our husbands to blame because they don't notice enough? Sometimes I am in utter disbelief that people who live in the same house as I do claim they don't notice the empty paper towel roll, the dirty laundry thrown on the bathroom floor, or the fact they left enough jelly behind on the counter to hold two blocks of cement together.

Maybe it's little bit of both. If we stop doing a task because we notice it first, it might give someone else a chance to notice.

Look, I have no easy answers, but I know that we count, too. Perhaps backing off a bit, having a talk with our kids about asking daddy for help when he is home and taking some much-needed time to do something just for us is a good place to start. Just because we notice more, doesn't mean we have to do it all.

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