I Say This to My Partner Every Time He's Stressed Out, and It Makes Such a Difference
Sometimes my husband, like me, gets overwhelmed with parenthood. As we all know, life with kids is tough — rewarding and joyous, too — but tough. There are times as parents when we think that we're royally screwing up. This occurs often with both me and my husband. And believe it or not, my husband suffers from dad guilt, too. So, when he thinks he messes up and is barely surviving at parenthood, I make sure to tell him one simple thing: "You're doing better than you think."
It's true. As parents we beat ourselves up daily. Just the other weekend, we had five soccer games, a dance rehearsal, and a dance recital — between only two kids! So, I needed my teammate to bring his A game to help navigate this overly complicated schedule to success. He was in charge of taking our son early to his soccer game one day so that I could hustle our little dancer home and get her ready to join them at the field. While I was home and my husband was at the field, I heard a "ding" from my phone. I checked my text messages and my husband's text read, "Ugh. I packed the wrong color jersey for Easton. I suck! Will you bring it."
I texted back, "Of course."
My daughter and I hustled to the field and brought our son the right colored jersey. All was fine. We all watched him score the winning goal. But later that night, the kids were exhausted from their active weekends. They both started acting out. Whining for a treat, crying to stay up later, and more (you know the drill). Finally, my husband's fuse sparked . . . and then blew up. He started yelling at the kids. Cue more tears. I swept in knowing my husband was overwhelmed from the weekend, too, and just needed his day to be done. I quieted everyone and tucked the kids into bed. No harm was done.
But when I walked into the family room, I saw my husband sitting on the couch completely deflated. I floated him a smile, letting him know that I've been there, too. He picked up his head and said, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," I told him. "Parenting kids is hard. And you're done a much better job than you think."
"I know. You're right. It's just that I hate losing my temper."
From there I reminded him that no parent is perfect and that we all screw up — daily. But that's not what the kids will remember. They'll remember the love and constant devotion.
I went on, "The kids will remember you cheering for them in the audience at their first dance recital and as they scored the winning goal at their soccer game. Not that you lost your temper after a long day."
"You're right," he said. "Thank you for reminding me that."
All parents fight that guilt. And it's important that we try to get over it with the help of our spouses. While parenthood is often overwhelming with the daily activities and emotions of our kids, we must remember that, in no time, our homes will be filled with quiet. No laughter, bouncing balls, or ballet twirls. Yes, we'll all make mistakes on the way, some big and some small. But what's important is to remember that as overwhelming as the daily grind can be, you're always doing better than you think.