Being a parent is a tough job that can make anyone feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. And when dealing with your own child, it can also be difficult to ask for help. But even for Celeste Erlach, a mother of two embarking on a journey that she calls “The Ultimate Mom Challenge,” asking for help ended up being just what she needed to do for herself and her family. Now, moms around the world are finding her vulnerable and teachable moment super relatable.
After feeling overburdened by her role as a mother, wife, caretaker of the home, and marketing professional, Erlach took to her love of writing and penned a letter now virally known as “Dear Husband.” In it, she perfectly articulates what she says is “the elephant in the room for so many” moms, opening her letter with the words, “I. Need. More. Help.”
Chronicling a night when her husband was trying to settle their crying baby, Erlach began her letter by explaining the frustration she felt once her partner gave up his efforts after a mere 20 minutes. Scooting the baby’s bassinet closer to her side of the bed, the 38-year-old mother wrote that it was “a clear gesture that you were done watching him.”
“I wanted to scream at you. I wanted to launch an epic fight that very moment. I had been watching the baby and the toddler all damn day,” Erlach’s letter read. “Just a few hours of precious sleep. Is that too much to ask?”
And by posting the letter (which goes deeper than these few sentiments) on a Facebook page called “Mom Babble,” the mother of 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons got her answer from parents all over the world.
“As moms, especially to babies, we bear a heavy burden and sometimes unsustainable responsibility that is oftentimes unmanageable and may lead us to break,” Erlach tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I was on the verge of breaking many times, and I felt guilty and embarrassed that I could not keep up with the physical, mental, and emotional workload that all of us moms endure. Was something wrong with me, or do other moms experience this too?”
In the letter, she traces her frustration and guilt to the traditional gender roles of previous generations. From this, she empathizes with her husband’s examples of what being a father might look like. However, as households and family dynamics continue to evolve, she points out that these roles need to change.
“My husband and I did not break down our roles and responsibilities before having babies,” Erlach explains, “and how could we? So much of it is impossible to understand until you experience it. You live, you learn, you grow.”
From her words, it’s evident that growing pains come with all of that, as parents take time to see what works for themselves and their children. The challenges specific to Erlach’s family, for example, might differ from other families. However, all parents are struggling with many of the same issues.
“Most husbands just have no idea the load we carry,” Erlach admits. “They see a beautiful mama and a perfect baby and they’re not sure where they even fit in this new equation. They’re confused and stressed out, too! We all know communication is key in a relationship, but in the clutches of new parenthood, when you’re just struggling to survive, it often takes a back seat to pretty much everything.”
The best solution from Erlach, so far, is to give in to your feelings and admit that you need help when you feel like you’re about to break.
“I’m waving a white flag and admitting I’m only human,” her letter concludes. “I’m telling you how much I need you, and if I keep going at the pace I’ve been on, I will break. And that would hurt you, the kids, and our family. Because, let’s face it: You need me, too.”
And while noting that dads need more understanding as well, Erlach jokes that her husband’s “Dear Wife” letter may be soon to follow.
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