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Dear Husband, Don't Ask How You Can Help, Just Do Something ... Anything!

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Husband,

You're a great dad, a great man. You work hard. You're very likable. "He's such a nice guy!" they always say. They're right—you are. But I'm at my breaking point.

You hear me constantly sigh. You notice me putting my face in my hands. You glance at me sitting at the kitchen table, staring blankly at the wall after everyone's already gotten up after dinner. You ask my why I'm cranky when we're here at home on any given weeknight and everything should otherwise be hunky-dory. Sometimes I respond with a soft and resigned "Nothing, I'm just tired," and sometimes I snap back with a sharp "I'm just effing tired!" Sometimes, I just yell about something unrelated and random.

When this happens, you tend to step back and leave me alone, because who the hell wants to deal with that kind of stuff from your wife? I then sit on the edge of our bed and let it all out, once again, like a broken record: my "I just feel like I'm running around with my head off all the bleepin' time and if you had to handle what I do every single day at the pace I do it at, you'd die and I don't even get any kind of acknowledgment for anything I'm busting my butt for, for all of us" speech.

It actually sort of kills me when I repeat this speech, because I genuinely do thrive and take deep pride in keeping most of my plates in the air at one time. I'm also freakishly good at purging responsibilities that aren't priorities, and simplifying home/work responsibilities and duties in the name of self-care. So, for me to be at this breaking point now, it must be really bad.

You stare blankly at me. Again. "What can I do?" you ask. Again.

I should take your words at face value and jot down a list of immediate action items for you to carry in your wallet every week and check off as they are accomplished. But instead, I fume.

Because I'm tired of delegating and constantly giving what I feel like are "orders." I don't like acting like a bitch any more than you do.

So, instead of asking how you can help, just do something—ANYTHING.

Do whatever it is, big or small, that you feel might need to be done in a busy moment without asking me if/when/why/how you should do it.

If the sink is full of dirty dishes all day, don't be afraid to put the dishes into the dishwasher prior to my return. I promise I won't get angry.

I know I'm not alone in this. My plight is the plight of almost every wife and mother I know. If I may unofficially speak for all of us, may I suggest the following ideas to all well-intended husbands such as yourself who seem to seek permission and/or instruction:

* If the dirty clothes bin is overflowing, feel free to toss a load of laundry in the wash without asking me.

* Wipe down the water that spayed onto the kitchen floor from the sink so no one slips on it on their way out the door.

* Pack the kids' lunches and/or snacks.

* Drive the children to school.

* Pick up a gallon of milk if you notice we're running low in the fridge (as opposed to stating "Hey, we're out of milk." (Yes, I know.)

* Water the almost-dying plants on the porch.

* Fix a bed. Any bed.

* Transfer wet clothes from the washer into the dryer if you notice them sitting in the washer hours after they've been washed.

* RSVP to the school event.

* Take the kids to get their heads checked for lice after getting the slip from the school nurse about there being an outbreak across the second grade.

* Pick up dinner on Thursday nights, our "hard night" with back-to-back lessons. Don't ask me what I feel like, just use your common sense.

* If you notice the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, I give you permission to unload them into the cabinets.

* If the sink is full of dirty dishes all day, don't be afraid to put the dishes into the dishwasher prior to my return. I promise I won't get angry. Maybe even run the dishwasher.

* Shop for the kids' birthday gifts.

* Take the trash out.

* Find the white leotards for the girls' upcoming ballet performance.

* Insist that our darling daughters brush their teeth and wind down for bed ASAP or else they're going to be in huge trouble (and mean it, don't just bluff).

* Feed children dinner instead of asking, "What's for dinner?"

* Take pictures and videos of myself with my daughters without me requesting it.

And, finally, the most valuable thing you can do without asking first: Say thank you. "Thank you, wife, for taking care of all you do. I know you're pooped and I just want you to know that I notice everything you do and appreciate that YOU are the one who keeps us in motion, positively growing and successful. It's all you, and I thank you."

Me having to tell you to say that is probably the true root of why I seem so cranky and effing tired. All. The. Time. I respectfully speak for all of us mothers. Every single one.

In appreciation,

Me

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