Something I’m working through…
Ryan and I both work full time, but my job is a lot more flexible than his. So getting our daughter up and ready and to daycare in the morning and back home again at night has fallen to me 95% of the time. Ryan’s been unemployed since December 1st (his company moved to Memphis) so in this interim, he’s been home and more available, which is amazing. Throughout this time, my job has been more demanding and I’m either leaving earlier or getting home past bedtime, so he’s been handling lots of the Josie things.
Here’s the hard part to unpack. I’m feeling extremely grateful to Ryan for stepping up in this way when he can. I’m grateful for the time off he’s had and the extra hours we’ve had with him around the house. But my first impulse is to feel guilty and apologize to him because he has to do these things.
First, the guilt. I don’t know where this comes from, because I’ve never been a fan or a victim of “mommy guilt.” Anytime I leave Josie for almost any reason, the most guilt I feel is that I don’t feel guilty for leaving. Especially since lots of the times I’ve left her for any length of time, it’s been for vacations or time away that fills me to the brim, which in turn, makes me a better mom. (Self-Care! Hello!) Is the guilt over Ryan getting Josie up, ready, and out the door because I feel like it’s “not his job”? Or it’s a “mom thing”? I don’t know.
Second, the impulse to apologize. Note: I said impulse, not that I once actually apologized for any of this out loud. And also to note, Ryan NEVER made me feel like he was even owed an apology. He loves his tiny one. People! There’s nothing to apologize for in this situation. Ryan is her father, not some guy who’s doing me a favor by “playing house” every now and again.
And I know I’m not alone in this. I put this out to an online self-care group I’m a part of and I got lots of responses from women that said they do the same thing but can’t truly identify why.
So here’s what I started doing in my brain:
- Re-framing the situation: As I said above, Ryan’s her father, and every part of raising her falls to him just as much as it falls to me. Enough said there, but that’s tough to always keep top of mind when we tend towards more traditional roles in the family (Me: cooking, cleaning, laundry…Him: outdoor chores, house maintenance, spider killing).
- Voicing my gratitude: I started telling Ryan THANK YOU for doing all of the things he did. That’s way better than hearing SORRY a million times for no reason. And who doesn’t love to be on the receiving end of gratitude instead of negativity!
- Allowing myself space to feel awesome: Keep pushing away negative thoughts. I didn’t love missing all the time I did with my family, but it was easy to leave knowing that Ryan and Josie were having awesome daddy daughter bonding times. And fun to fall more in love with the guy I married, who does love his family in lots of great ways.
The good news is that it’s becoming easier and easier in this particular situation to show gratitude and not apologize. However, it opens up a whole other realm of noticing when I apologize for things that I don’t need to! (Flash back to why I sucked at radio sales: Me: Here’s a list of sponsorship packages I think would really be great for you. [Client hesitating for .3 seconds] Me: Everything’s negotiable. Never mind. I’ll show myself out.)
Why do I feel apologetic for voicing my needs? Why does guilt stop me from communicating my desires or expectations? These are all questions I’ve been rolling around in my brain lately. I wish I had some wisdomous thought to tie this post in a perfect little bow, but like I said, I’m just starting to work through this. What are your thoughts? Can we just commit to working on this together? Can we talk about it below?