I have always wanted to be a good wife and a good mom. At some points in my life, I only wanted to be a good wife and a good mom. For me, there is no achievement greater than a happy, healthy family. The saying goes “happy wife, happy life,” and “when mom is happy, everyone is happy.” Nothing gives me greater happiness than smiles, laughs, and hugs from my husband and children.
Obviously, not every moment in life will be happy. One of my favorite Disney movies, Inside Out, explains the purpose and the need for sadness. So we know those days will come. As moms—the boo boo kissers, righters of wrongs, fixers of problems—we expect to be able to handle the not-so-happy days with little problem. And even though we may not always need it (or want it), a little help from Dad can make it all better.
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The times when being wife and mom conflict are unexpected
But then there are the kind of bad days when the need to be wife and mom conflict as competing priorities. Those are the days when your mettle is tested emotionally, mentally, and physically. You feel inadequate in your ability to meet everyone’s needs. Surviving those days takes a whole lotta faith and (sometimes) a little wine. I faced a few of those days this summer and I hope to never have to face any like them again.
The last week of July/first week of August is always a busy time in our family. The pinnacle of the track season for Alexandra, the beginning of the school year for Olivia, and summer conferences and conventions for Jack and Jill almost always collide in scheduling. This year was no different. So we made an elaborate plan for travel, hotel and lodging accommodations, and most importantly Harold’s aunt and grandfather came to stay with Olivia at home, while we traveled with Alexandra.
You can’t prepare for moments being wife and mom conflict
We were very focused on preparing Alexandra to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics. She hadn’t competed at the level she wanted, nor the level we knew she could. And running in the heat and humidity of Houston is nothing like running in the midwest. Coach Daddy was laser focused and locked in on her diet, her daily schedule, her warm up routine, and even her clothes. So when he got a call 30 minutes prior to a qualifying race that his grandfather had suffered a massive heart attack and did not survive, my world went into a tailspin.
Who can get Olivia out of the house? How will he keep it together to get Alexandra warmed up? If he collapses in grief will I be able to get him up by myself? Without alerting Alexandra? How do I keep him from collapsing? Do I tell Alexandra? When? Do I let him tell her? Will he want to tell her? How will she respond if/when she sees Daddy crying? Did Olivia see what happened? How will she respond to seeing great-grandpa removed from the house in a body bag? When are we going to talk about it? How do we do that without telling Alexandra? WHAT IN THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO?!?
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How to respond when being wife and mom conflict
In those moments over the next few days, I had to lean very heavily upon the support of trusted friends back home. Alexandra qualified in that race, which meant we had two more days to stay in Houston. I felt helpless not being home with Olivia, not being able to provide Harold the comfort he desperately needed, trying to put on a brave face for Alexandra, and measuring each of those needs against the other.
I can’t possibly predict every scenario that may occur in your life, or in mine for that matter. But I do know that those moments, when being a wife and mom conflict, will be stressful. The following strategies should help you to better cope with the stress and inevitability of not being able to be everything to everyone.
Take a deep breath. This can be the most patronizing thing to hear when you’re under pressure, but it really does help. The theory of emotional intelligence confirms that forcing oxygen to the brain will slow adrenaline and give you time to make a clear-minded decision.
Get by with a little help from your friends. I would never have made it through the 48 hours immediately after receiving the news without relying upon my trusted network of friends and family. Everything from caring for my child to picking up my mother-in-love from the airport was handled by people whom I trust because I was unable to do it. Get some help.
Give yourself some grace. It’s already stressful enough without you adding the hardship of self-induced pressure. Do everything you can to meet your family’s individual and collective needs. And accept that the needs you can’t meet are not for lack of trying. Do what you can, and do it well.