I write a lot about how difficult motherhood can be, however joyous-it is equally challenging. While I often acknowledge my spouse and his ability to be in the trenches of parenthood with me; I haven’t written much about the sacrifices and burdens he carries. When a couple gets pregnant things hit hard and fast for the woman, so a lot of times the spouse is left in the dust. Even though everything is changing for them too, and their main support system suddenly becomes completely engulfed in someone else’s needs.
Before I had my son I was with my husband for three years, married one-living together all. When I met him, he was everything I never knew I needed. Nothing like the men i’d dated in the past, which as is turns out was just right for me. It didn’t take us long to just dive in, we were already planning our second date on our first. We moved in together six months in, and were inseparable almost immediately. Sometimes you just click with someone and we balanced each other so well.
In the three years before we had a kid together I belonged to my husband. I made him dinner, I cleaned the house, I’d do special things just to let him know I loved him. My job was to take care of him and show him love-and I did just that unwaveringly. Until he put a baby in me my life was about him. Then everything changed for me-and the thing no one talks about is everything changed for him. His person, his partner, his wife was no longer just his. Before my son even got here my husband was sharing me.
I went from making these healthy meals each night to not having energy to cook-and now that we have a three year old we mostly eat Mac n cheese. But my man, he never complains. He never asks where the healthy meals went, never asks why Mac n cheese is the only thing I can pull together after being home all day. Part of his invisible burden is giving up things like that-and never being able to say to your spouse you miss those delish meals. Yes there are things you gain from becoming a father but there are s lot of things that are lost.
The meals were just the start. The biggest burden my husband carries in fatherhood is me. I used to be his support, his strength, now he’s mine. By the time he gets home at the end of a long day there’s no telling what he could come home to. He could walk in on tears, from mommy and kids. He could walk it at 7pm with no dinner started and the house a disaster mess. Let’s be honest, the well groomed wife preparing dinner upon his arrival is a thing of the past. When he walks in that door I expect him to support me however I need-because I’ve spent my day pouring from my cup for my son.
I spend each day pouring out myself for my son-my husbands job is to fill my cup back up. And that is not an easy job coming from a world where my cup was always full. He is now the supporter, he is now the one who sometimes makes dinner, or does a load of laundry. His entire world shifted by becoming a father, way beyond just having a child to care for-and this isn’t even acknowledged by the people around him. When you become a mother everyone fawns over the changes you’ve made, over how selfless you become being a mother. But the invisible sacrifices your making as a father are rarely discussed or acknowledged.
So I’m declaring my love and appreciation for the weight my husband carries on his shoulders each day. I’m saying I SEE YOU! I see you taking out the trash, cleaning the floors on your day off, getting up early so I can sleep, and all those supporting things that make me feel like I’m not drowning on a daily basis. I know you’ve given up the world, and I know it isn’t easy-but you’ve taken on this burden without complaint. And that’s the true weight of the invisible burden of fatherhood-that most people won’t see your sacrifices, won’t understand the weight of supporting your family.
Yes us moms carry a huge weight in motherhood, and yes we do most of the work growing and raising our children-particularly stay at home moms. But that doesn’t mean that fatherhood is something that leaves you untouched. My husband carries the weight of financially supporting us, emotionally supporting me, and simultaneously being a present father. So to my husband, and to all those fathers out there carrying this invisible burden-I SEE YOU, and thank you. I’m sorry I don’t get all dolled up as much as I should anymore, I’m sorry I don’t have dinner on the table regularly, and most of all I’m sorry I don’t acknowledge everything you do enough.
Share this with a father who needs to know he’s seen, his sacrifices are appreciated.