AN OPEN LETTER TO MY HUSBAND; ON THE BIRTH OF OUR SECOND CHILD
The birth of our second child is fast approaching and we enter this phase, the second-time round, with our eyes open to the journey we are about to embark. No longer clouded with naivety, we now know that this newborn phase will be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding times of our lives.
I know that once our beautiful baby arrives, our lives will, once again, be turned upside down with the demands of caring for a newborn. So before the sleep deprivation and hormonal roller coaster kicks in, and I am once again consumed with my role as a mother to a newborn, I want to take the time to say some things to you that I may forget to say in the coming months.
In those moments when it seems that I am incapable of communicating like a mature adult, please take this letter out and re-read it. These are all the things I am thinking but not saying out loud:
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I got irrationally angry and took all my frustration out on you. I’m tired. So very very tired. I am just learning how to be a mother of two and there are days that this new role overwhelms me. For better or worse, you fall in the firing line of my frustration. But I know that you too are exhausted and adjusting to our new normal. I am so sorry that your bear the brunt of my emotions.
I’m not sorry. I am not always sorry that I got annoyed at you. There are times that you unintentionally forget to do things to help around the house (It’s ok, your human). And I know that you think I am overreacting when I lose my shit because you didn’t empty the dishwasher or take the bin out. But in these moments, please bear in mind that these small things have the power to crush me. To you, it is just an overflowing bin that you briefly glance at on your way to work. To me, it is yet another task that I am unable to do whilst I struggle to breastfeed a newborn and tame a toddler. Every time I look at that overflowing bin I will be reminded that a mere trip to the bin defeats me, and I will feel like a failure. In these moments, please don’t treat me like I am overreacting. I am genuinely upset and angry, and I need your understanding.
I want you. Physically that is. Please don’t for a second think that this has changed. I am just tired and my body feels foreign to me right now. It feels as if my body is betraying me, when what I so desperately want emotionally and mentally is so disconnected to the physical response that my body displays. It is hard for me to feel sexy when my breasts are leaking, I haven’t slept in what feels like years and I am constantly on edge that our toddler will burst in the room at any second. This soon will pass and my body will, once again, feel like my own. And when that time comes we will find each other again (and again and again!).
I appreciate you. I don’t say it often enough but it is true. I am so unbelievably grateful that you go to work every day, often having had little sleep, to provide for our family. I appreciate that you share the workload at home, never for a moment assuming that the housework is now my domain just because I am at home with the kids. I appreciate all the little things you do; the simple yet frequent gestures of love and kindness that you bestow on me every day. Thank you so much for your unwavering kindness, support and devotion.
I resent you. I resent your freedom. It is irrational and it is unfair but there it is. I resent that you can leave the house fancy free without having to be constrained by brief windows of time that exist between nap times, having to pack a plethora of baby and toddler paraphernalia and having to wrestle two children into car seats. I resent that you can go to the gym or get a haircut during your lunch break when my hair has reached the point that it is 90% dry shampoo and the closest thing I have come to exercise is sprinting after a runaway toddler whilst pushing a double pram. None of this is your fault. Nor is there anything you can do about it. But I just thought you should know what was going through my head (just in case you ever catch me covertly glaring at you for no reason).
I’m proud of you. You are the most incredible person I have ever known. And you are the most wonderful husband and father that I could ever imagine. You took to fatherhood with natural fluency, devoting your whole being to loving and caring for our family. I know that you too must be frequently tired and stressed, and yet I watch on in wonder as you endless give to others.
I miss you. I miss the way it used to be between us. When we were the centre of each other’s universe, cocooned from the reality of the world by a love that we thought was uniquely ours. I miss talking to you. Really talking to you. Not just the snippets of conversation about kids or to-do lists that we currently carry out as we rush from one task to the next. Lately, we have been snapping at each more than we used too and it feels foreign and unlike us. We see each other every day, sleep in the same bed every night, and yet, there are times when it feels like we haven’t been alone in years. I wish that we could promise to invest as much time in ‘us’ as we do in being parents but I think that, perhaps, we are at least a few years away from that being an achievable goal. All we can do is to remind ourselves that this phase in our lives will soon pass and we have the rest of our lives together, to be ‘us’ once again. You are still my favourite person in the world.
I love you. There are moments when my love for you literally takes my breath away. Times that I watch from a distance as you love and care of our children, and my heart feels so full that I feel that it can barely be contained in my chest. No longer is it the grand gestures of romance and affection that give me butterfly’s; but rather, it is in the mundane moments, when your unbelievable thoughtfulness and tenderness fills my soul and I am reminded how lucky I am to be married to my best friend and soul mate.
During this trying but precious time in our lives, there are many things that I should be saying to you every day, but this is the single most important one: I love you, with all my heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phoebe Shields is a mama of one and the co-creator of the blog P.S. It’s a Mum Thing. What initially started out as a personal cathartic exercise to help her come to terms with her birth trauma and postpartum PTSD, her writing has now transformed into a platform that aims to support and inspire other mothers. The blog is an honest and often hilarious depiction of everything that encompasses motherhood. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or her website.