My Mother-in-Law Called Me a ’Terrible Mother’ but My Husband Stayed Silent
Okay, so my husband and I, both 37, have four kids under six. I run a small activewear shop from home, and he works full-time. Recently, he got a bonus and decided to treat himself to a 10-day solo trip to Bali. Fine, whatever. The problem? I had to handle our four kids on my own during that time.
When he came back, he promised me a break, but things took a turn. He pressured me into helping with the kids in front of his family, even yelling, “For once, can you get up and help me with the kids?”
To give him credit, he initially agreed to take care of the kids for an afternoon on Saturday. However, his cousin invited us to a costume party on the same day, and since his girlfriend is one of my best friends, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to relax. My husband assured me he would handle the kids and even watch them while I took a breather.
The day has come.
On the day of the party, the kids were quite a handful—crying, screaming, and engaging in constant battles while ignoring any attempts at discipline. Since it was my day off, I chose to relax by the pool, basking in the sun and enjoying the music. Even though he repeatedly sought my assistance, I reminded him that he had agreed to take care of the children, emphasizing that this was my well-deserved downtime.
After enduring an hour of chaotic scenes, he finally reached his breaking point and loudly demanded that I get up and help with the kids. His outburst drew the attention of everyone around, and I even overheard my mother-in-law mutter, “What a terrible mother.”
Navigating parenthood challenges
I got upset. I reminded him that I had the kids alone for 10 days while he was in Bali. He argued back, voices getting loud. Some overheard and started calling me a lazy mom, implying I take advantage of him.
In the midst of overwhelming emotions, I reached my breaking point and tears welled up as I expressed my frustration. I told them that I needed a moment, got into the car, and drove away. Several hours later, I returned to pick up my partner and the children. The atmosphere in the car on the way home was heavy with silence.
Later that evening, my partner attempted to explain that the kids were having a tough day, and he simply needed my support for a while. I countered, feeling the situation wasn’t equitable, especially considering I had shouldered the responsibility of caring for the kids alone for two weeks. What stung even more was the fact that he hadn’t immediately defended me when people insulted me.
Was it my responsibility? Should I have assisted him with the children?
Advice from Bright Side
Stephanie, finding a balance between running a home-based activewear shop and caring for four children under six is undoubtedly a formidable challenge. The recent events, particularly your husband’s solo trip to Bali and the subsequent strain on your partnership, highlight the need for a thoughtful and constructive approach to address the issues at hand.
Considering the complexity of your situation, here are some suggested steps to navigate through the challenges and rebuild understanding between you and your husband:
- Initiate an open conversation: Begin by expressing your feelings and concerns openly with your husband. Create a space for both of you to share your perspectives without judgment, fostering a climate of understanding.
- Share your experiences: Help your husband understand the emotional toll of managing the household and caring for the children alone for an extended period. Share specific instances and challenges you faced during his absence.
- Establish realistic expectations: Work together to set realistic expectations for both of you in terms of childcare responsibilities. Ensure that each partner’s need for breaks and personal time is acknowledged and respected.
- Address public confrontations: Discuss the impact of public confrontations on your relationship and family dynamics. Emphasize the importance of presenting a united front, and establish boundaries to prevent such situations from recurring.
- Emphasize mutual support: Reinforce the concept of mutual support and defense. Clearly communicate your need for immediate support when faced with criticism, and discuss ways to address family opinions more constructively.
- Quality time for reconnection: Prioritize quality time together as a couple. Plan activities that allow both of you to relax and reconnect, fostering a stronger emotional bond and reminding yourselves of the love that forms the foundation of your relationship.
- Consider professional guidance: If communication proves challenging or if deeper issues emerge, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a professional counselor. A neutral third party can provide valuable insights and guide both of you toward healthier communication and understanding.
- Reflect on mutual growth: Approach this period as an opportunity for mutual growth and learning. Use the challenges you’ve faced as a stepping stone for personal and relational development, reinforcing the resilience of your partnership.
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