Being a wife and mother at the same time is the most difficult role I have ever had in my life. But it’s not like being a wife, or being a mom is easy on its own.
Before I married my husband, I thought I was perfectly mentally healthy. Sure, I got stressed and anxious at times. But I was able to quickly resolve my stressors and triggers, and bring my life back to being a happy place again.
When I got married in 2014, I quickly realized that I have way more flaws than I thought I had. I yelled more than I thought I yelled. Marriage, and the complexities within it, made me react with anger more than ever before. And I couldn’t stop my emotionally charged reactions no matter how hard I tried.
Soon after we married, I also realized that my mental health wasn’t as good as I thought it was.
Not only that, but I got quick confirmation that I’m really not housewife material. I would rather hire someone to clean our home than to clean myself; even though mess and clutter are my #1 anxiety trigger (yes, I learned this after marriage).
Additionally, I don’t have a natural desire to offer my husband food or something hot to drink unless I’m making it for myself, and these acts of service happen to be what he needs to feel loved and cared for. My love language, in contrast, is definitely words of affirmation, which I didn’t realize before getting married.
No! It’s not easy!
My husband is such a kind-hearted and naturally warm person. However, having different love languages and learning how to navigate our unique personalities, as well as our different temperaments, thoughts, and opinions, has definitely been a learning curve.
My empathy isn’t quite as robust as I thought it was. My patience is also not as abundant. My understanding of life is very limited based on how much I apparently have yet to learn. And I zone out on my phone instead of playing with my kids more than I would like to admit.
And the yelling and poor communication I sometimes display with my family? I can see my children learning to do the same.
When I think about all of this, and especially when my weaknesses and flaws are visible in my parenting, I feel like such a terrible wife and mother. I wonder if my kids would be better off with a different mother and my husband better off with a different wife.
Then I take a step back and I think, “No. My husband and I are meant for one another- we are each one half of the same soul even when we have difficult moments. As for our children, I am their mother. G-d gave them to me and I am the best mother for them.”
The next thing I think is, “How can I make myself be a better mother for them?” I also want to be a better partner and wife for my husband.
There are some things that do come easy for me to be a good wife and mother:
I joke and laugh with my family.
I sing and dance with them.
We walk, bike, and hike together.
We bake together.
We play games together.
We read together while sharing our thoughts.
We talk together endlessly.
We spend Shabbat together without any distractions.
We have honest and deep discussions about the Torah and G-d.
Other things I continually put in the effort to learn and improve to be a better wife and mother:
I have learned that I am so much more creative than I ever thought I was.
I have learned to show myself compassion. I can take a step back and process my reactions to different situations without criticizing myself. This allows me to grow in ways I never knew I needed to.
I have learned to have more empathy which decreases my anger and increases my patience.
I have become more humble about my flaws and mistakes and to say sorry when I know I am wrong- even if I continue to make more mistakes.
I remind myself that it is more than worthwhile to put down my phone (no matter how hard it can be) and play with my kids in their own big worlds.
I can try harder. Every day. I can show my family I am going to try to go beyond my comfort zone and my own limitations in order to be better for them. I want to be better as a wife and mother.
As for my kids mimicking my yelling, and at times, poor patience; they also mimic my growing empathy and ability to identify and talk about their emotions. They are learning to say sorry even when it’s hard and to ask the person they hurt how they can help them feel better. They are learning it’s okay to leave a situation to calm down before continuing a conversation. And they are learning they have the power to react in a better way, even if that means asking for a second chance.
Growth isn’t always pretty, but I am trying my best. I am learning. Day by day. Sometimes I go backward for a few weeks and I get down on myself. Then I realize I have no choice but to look up and push through and try to go beyond every challenge and difficulty I have with the tools I know and which I have been given. In Judaism, we learn the mind controls the heart and that G-d doesn’t give us any challenge we can’t overcome. I live by those teachings.
All I can do is try to be the best wife and mother I can be. Even if I often don’t succeed in overcoming all of my challenges. I am only human. But I love my family enough to always push myself to be better than I am today.
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