Up until the point that I had become a mother, I was the most affectionate wife in the world. Honestly, I was probably more touchy-feely than my husband.
However, as a mother, I spend most of my days chasing two small children around the house. And on a hard day, I feel like a wreck at the end of it. Recently, my husband came home from work after a long day. It had been a long day for me, for sure. Both of my little ones were sick. They had a bad cold, and for the greater part of my day, I had tried to soothe one from the verge of tears and screaming back to a calm place, while gently rocking another who didn’t want to leave my arms.
For partners seeking to understand the mental and emotional exhaustion of parenting, “The Burnout Solution: 12 Weeks to a Calmer You” by Siobhan Murray provides insights into recognizing and coping with burnout, which is common in stay-at-home parents.
I’m pretty sure that by the time my husband made it home, we were all in tears. As I rocked my infant to sleep and set her in the crib, I crept softly into the living room. I just wanted an hour of silence and calm to recalibrate myself.
My husband reached for me as I walked into the living room. I looked up at him and we met eyes. I winced. I could tell he looked offended. “I promise you, it isn’t you.” I said. I went onto explain my day. How it started with sniffles, then vomiting, then screaming. Neither of my kids would nap. One of them threw their lunch at me. From 2 PM until 6 PM, I held my two-year-old and rocked him back and forth, while he screamed and snotted all over my shirt.
For mothers like yourself, finding ways to decompress is crucial. “Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process” by Dr. Sheryl G. Ziegler offers strategies to manage stress and find balance in the demanding role of parenting.
“I love you all so much, but I am beyond mentally exhausted,” I pleaded with him. He continued to look sad. “Just give me one hour and I will be back to myself.” I told him. He’s such a good and loving husband. I appreciate everything that he does. I love being held by him. But the thing is, that after a day like I had that day, I couldn’t even comprehend being touched or really even talked to. Not because I didn’t want it, but because I couldn’t physically handle it.
If you have a wife at home who sometimes pulls back and who shows you with her eyes and with her heart that she is at her wits end, give her a break. It isn’t that she doesn’t want to be touched, it’s because she is beyond overstimulated. Give her a moment, be supportive, and she will come back to herself after a period of time. Being a mother is a very TRYING job. I know being a dad is too, but I am a stay at home mom and some days, all I hear is screaming, crying and toys being launched for 12 hours straight (outside of naps.) It can be a lot. So, be patient with your overstimulated wife/mom.
Encouraging self-care is vital. “The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter–One Month at a Time” by Jennifer Ashton M.D. provides a guide for mothers to incorporate self-care into their busy lives, helping them rejuvenate and maintain their well-being.