Last week began like any other. Your alarm went off early on Monday morning and before I even stumbled to the coffee pot you were showered, dressed and headed off to work. A quick kiss and off you went. The kids and I waved goodbye and began our own daily routine.
Cook the waffles, pour the milk, try to dress the kids, clean up the spill, shout that we’re running late, chase the kids, finally dress the kids, check the time, scrub their faces, make the lunch, argue about the shape of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, insist that teeth get brushed every morning, yes, every single morning, remember to drink the coffee, load the car and so on and so on.
My life as a mother can best be described as Groundhog Day. The general basis of the day always stays the same. There will be breakfast. There will always be lunches to prepare, snacks to hand out, outfits to pick, hair to brush. Then life loves to toss in some curve balls. A slip and fall in the kitchen leading to an hour of tears. A diaper blow out in the middle of the grocery store. An absolute refusal to eat a turkey sandwich even after it was requested.
My mind races from one task to the next. Who needs milk? How did you stub your toe? Did I remember to take the chicken out for dinner?
Throw in drop offs and pick ups, story time and grocery shopping. Most of the time around 4 pm I don’t even know how I’ll make it to bedtime. And when I look around I’ve gotten nothing done. The pile of laundry still sits unfolded. The dishwasher hasn’t been emptied and the sink is full of plastic plates and sippy cups. Did I even brush my own teeth yet?
Dinner time comes quick and you guessed it, I didn’t defrost the chicken. Luckily fast thinking and motherhood go hand in hand. Leftover grilled chicken quickly gets turned into quesadillas. Bath, books and bedtime and I can finally breathe a sigh of release.
Then I hear your key in the lock.
And I freeze.
I forgot to take out that damn chicken! The kids devoured the leftovers and now it’s 8 pm. The house looks like a bomb went off, I crossed not 1 task off my to do list, and I have nothing to make us for dinner. I mumbled something about making macaroni and took my glass of wine to the bath for a moment of silence. After having to talk the entire day I needed just a break from speaking. And listening. And I’m sorry.
I’m sorry by the time you get home I’m already spent. That my brain feels like mush, I’m exhausted and my skin feels sticky from being touched by someone who ate toast with jelly. I’m sorry that it wasn’t until I heard the key in the lock that I remember you asked me to run to the bank. I’m sorry I forgot to fix the button on your shirt. I’m sorry I pushed you down to the bottom of the list.
Remember back when I used to love to cook? I would spend hours picking recipes and shopping for the groceries. Sometimes going to multiple stores. I would prepare a whole meal and serve it proudly and we would eat and drink wine and just chat about our day.
Those days seem farther and farther away. Cooking dinner for us just stopped being a priority. It was completely unintentional. I promise. I had a baby, and then another. You work long hours, often gone for at least 12 hours a day. Cooking dinner just got pushed farther and farther down the list. You got pushed down to the bottom of the list.
And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for putting you last when you were always first. I’m sorry for putting everyone’s needs before yours. I’m sorry I forgot how to be a wife when I became a mother.
A recent conversation I had with another mother put things into perspective for me. I can spend every ounce of my time and energy on my children. I can spend the next 18 years doting on them, making sure their faces are clean and that they ate their vegetables. And one day they will leave my nest. What kind of relationship will I have with you once they are gone?
I chose you. For my whole, entire life. And I wouldn’t change that. But will we recognize each other when it is just us again? After I put all of my mothering duties in front of my duties as a wife. I would be foolish to think that a marriage can survive that. Well, I’m sure it can survive, but can it thrive? I don’t want our marriage to just survive.
I want to tour Italy when our kids are in college and laugh like I did when you took me to Mexico for my 22nd birthday. I want to sit with you at breakfast and hear you read me the headlines from the newspaper. And pretend to be interested like I did in our first apartment.
And I realize that these are the hardest years. The years with young kids can surely strain a marriage. And I understand that putting the time into our marriage will take of effort on my part. To get more organized, to get on a better schedule, to remember to take out the chicken. You are worth that effort. I promise to make you a priority and I am truly sorry you spent time at the bottom of the list.