“I HATE YOU!! I CAN’T GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED!!!”
Yes, just a few weeks ago, those harsh words came out of my mouth, directed towards my husband. He just wanted to go fishing, and I cracked. My life felt out of control and too much for me to handle all of the sudden. A simple request from him to go fishing was the straw that broke this mama’s back.
Now before I go on, I need to interject something: if you don’t know my husband at all, then let me tell you something. He is amazing. And no, I’m not just saying that. He has way more capacity than I do, and he uses a lot of that capacity to help me with our two sons, Knox (3 ½) and Zeke (1 ½), and help me out around the house. So when I said I hated him, it had absolutely nothing to do with him.
To give you a little background, around the time I had this meltdown, we had a LOT of extremely heavy, emotional, hard things going on. Stuart and I were pursuing foster care training, we had begun marriage counseling to work some things out before bringing traumatized children into our home and family, Stuart’s grandmother had just passed away and we had just been at her funeral, and our kids were at the height of being exhausting, just to mention a few things.
Like I said, we started counseling mainly because we wanted to iron some things out before fostering, but we didn’t realize how good it would be for us to talk through our differences and our marriage. We also didn’t realize that counseling would actually show us that right now was not the best time for us to become foster parents.
If you don’t know us IRL, you might not know that Stuart and I are complete opposites in a lot of areas.
He’s Type A, I’m Type B.
He’s a “doer,” I’m a “be-er.”
He’s task-oriented, I’m people-oriented.
He’s tidy, I’m messy.
He’s scheduled, I’m go with the flow.
The list could literally go on and on. And because of these vast differences, you can imagine we’ve had just a little conflict in our marriage. It’s taken HARD WORK to make us work. There have been days when our vow to God to stay married, “until death do us part,” was what kept us together. Marriage isn’t all sex and snuggles, especially after having kids. We love each other very much, but that doesn’t mean that being married to each other doesn’t have it’s difficulties.
After meeting a few times, one thing our counselor advised us to do is communicate more of our needs to each other. Of course the hardship comes when those needs don’t go hand-in-hand. Such as, Stuart’s need for alone time apart from work, and my need for his help with the boys when he’s not at work.
Thus my meltdown.
And the truth is, I was trying to do it all. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was trying to be Superwoman. And a simple request to go fishing caused me to pull a total Wicked Witch of the West. (Get it…she melted down. #momjoke)
Thank goodness Stuart realized there was more to my blowup than the words that were coming out of my mouth. That I didn’t really hate him, but I was just extremely overwhelmed. He immediately called his mom and asked if she and his dad could take the boys for the weekend. He expressed that we were in a slight crisis and needed time together away from the boys.
They instantly agreed, and Stuart and I got two whole days to simply be together. Without distraction, interruption, or poopy diapers. And what we realized is that we need more time “off” together. Communication is really hard when you have two other little humans constantly vying for your attention. We also realized that we needed to not only express our needs, but once they’re expressed, discuss how those needs can be met in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the other person.
So Stuart is still going to go fishing once a week, but he’s going to go later in the day when dinner has been made and all I have to do is feed and put the boys down. I don’t have to face 5 extra hours each week solo parenting.
Stuart’s parents have also offered to take the boys for us one weekend a month. (Praise hands!) This month we’re going to see a Keith Urban concert for my birthday (which is actually at the end of the month) and making a weekend out of it. SUPER excited!
And after breaking down over the phone to my mom about everything going on, (because when I’m overwhelmed, just the sound of my mom’s voice makes me ugly cry and word vomit all the things because I know she’ll listen and do everything she can to help) she’s offered to help us pay for a babysitter to come one morning a week for a few hours. That way I can get stuff done around the house without stepping over my boys, or go for a run or go grocery shopping SOLO.
It all boils down to the fact that I finally realized I NEEDED HELP. The saying “it takes a village” doesn’t lie. It not only takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to keep a mama sane. Because Stuart and I live away from our families, we had been trying to do most of the parenting on our own. But when we finally admitted we needed some help, things started to turn around.
I am just not a mom who can multitask well when my boys are awake. I don’t know if it’s because they’re young boys who have a LOT of energy and don’t sit quietly for long periods of time, or because my personality isn’t task-oriented, so it takes more energy for me to get stuff done. I’m guessing it’s a mixture of both. But either way, knowing that I have some space in my schedule where I can breathe and recharge helps me to be a better mom when I am with my kids.
I do want to give a shout out to our community of friends here in Xenia. I texted some of them to ask for prayer, and shared with many of them what transpired over the weekend. And in response, so many of them told me they would be more than willing to help out in whatever capacity we needed. God has blessed us with an amazing second family here, and I know I would not be able to be the mother, friend or wife I am without them! Family doesn’t always look the way you expect it to, but seeing God create a family from a bunch of people who live in the same town, who are all trying to do life and love others and God the best they can is a beautiful thing.
The other thing Stuart and I decided during that weekend was that we are postponing foster care. It was a hard decision to make, and I really had to fight feelings of failure after concluding that was what we needed to do. But we needed to do what was best for our family, and at this time, with boys who are 3 and 1 and full of exhausting energy, we realized foster care would be more than we could handle.
I have such a heart and a passion for foster care, so I hope God still has plans for us to foster in the future, but I’m also learning to keep open hands with any plans I think God has for us. Only God knows why he directed us to pursue foster care only to postpone it for now.
Who knows, he may have directed us to foster care for the purpose of entering into marriage counseling and beginning to deal with things in ourselves and our marriage we didn’t know we needed to work on. He may have directed us there in order to bring us to a point where we’re willing to open our home to someone, but not necessarily a newborn. He may have directed us there in order to tell us to wait on Him, simply because He knows what’s best. It’s always hard to wait, but I’ve already seen his hands at work in our decision to enter foster care as well as our decision to postpone it.
Getting to a place where you have a meltdown is never fun, but if I’ve learned anything from recent news, it’s that I need to be humble and willing to express my needs, my feelings and ask for help. None of us can handle it all, and when we attempt to do so, we get ourselves in a place where we end up desperate and hopeless. The good news is this world is full of amazing people who are more than willing to lend a hand or their time to help. But if you’re not honest with yourself or others, you’ll never know how others can bless you or how you can even bless others by asking for help!
All I have to say is thank goodness for my village…here in Xenia, as well as my long distance village. We weren’t made to do life alone, and I’m blessed to have some of the best people to do life with!