I find myself lying in bed late at night. Lights out but wide awake, scrolling social media, obviously. I forward a fellow mom blog article to my husband. I leave no subject line. Just the link to the article accompanied by a few words.
A plea to be heard, and to be understand. A plea for support, and for reprieve. Timestamp: 11:13PM. I should be sleeping by now.
I wrote: “This is what my “stress” and “overwhelm” and anxiety feel like. What I’m responsible for feels like just everyday stuff, like it should be easy and manageable but it’s incredibly overwhelming right now.”
I hit send and go back to scrolling.
Scroll. Scroll some more. Keep scrolling. It’s getting late.
To my surprise, my husband rolls over and is instantly engaged. He’s sad for me and concerned. He hugs me and kisses me and says in a genuinely caring and sympathetic way: “Wow, that sounds really hard.”
“That” of course, being my life, and my mental state. We talk a bit and he empathizes with me and we agree it’s time I go back to my therapist. I’m in a dark place, and he understands the gravity of it now.
Now, when I feel like I’ve been telling him this for months.
Now, even though I’ve been dropping hints left and right for what feels like ever.
Now, after he hears it from someone else.
Now, after he reads an article written by a complete and total stranger, on the internet.
Only now, after I forward him another mom’s words.
And this strikes me as odd. I’m not mad. I’m not disappointed. I’m honestly not even a little bit resentful. I’m thankful and relieved.
But what is it about this other woman’s words that sank deep into my husband’s heart, immediately? Without question or judgement? Without a second guess?
What is it about hearing it from someone else that makes him get it?
Not from when I told him. Or so I thought.
Not from when I asked for help. As I recall.
Not from when I said I was falling. I think.
Not from our long car rides or late night talks.
Not from conversation over coffee or after a few too many cocktails.
Not from our heated fights, or family therapy sessions.
Was it my words?
Was I not clear? Not direct?
Am I not articulate enough?
Not as well spoken as I might think?
Or maybe it was none of that. Maybe it wasn’t my fault. Or his. Maybe my husband does in fact hear me and does get me and my words do sink into his soul. Maybe he can take one look at my face after a long day and tell whether I’m about to cry.
Maybe sometimes, even though I do tell him and he does hear me, we just need our thoughts and feelings to be better said by someone else. To be screamed from the rooftop, or from a small corner of the internet. To be and to feel validated. To be heard and felt understood.
It’s why our mom friends make our village, and our internet mom groups are called a tribe.
It’s why we consider Instagram friends sisters, and confide so much to people we’ve never met.
Other moms. Our #momsquads. It’s why they matter. It’s why they are so powerful.
Their words are so often our exact thoughts. Clearly articulated. Spoken with the exact amount of emotion needed to make an impact. To hear their words spoken or see their words written validates what we’re feeling in a way nothing else can.
They tell us we’re not alone.
They convince us we’re not crazy.
They remind us that being a mom is just really freaking hard, and sometimes even our most well intentioned, loving husbands just need to hear that from someone else to get it.