Haven’t mastered the mom/wife/student balance

Right now I am 99% mom, 1% wife, and 0% student. My wife stormed out of the house this morning because she is going through a big, stressful transition at work and I haven’t been emotionally supportive. I say words like “I’m so proud of you” and “this must be really tough”, but she can tell my words are empty and devoid of true empathy. I feel like I have no emotional support left to give. And the affection has been gone a while, too. I get out of bed at 5:30 to hug her goodbye every morning and I rub her back some nights (that’s me really trying after our talk about affection post-baby), but again, it’s hollow and empty. I am empty.

It’s not that I’m suffering from PPD and feel empty inside – I am teaming with love and empathy for the baby. But 99% of my emotional capacity is spent on the baby. Maybe it would be different if I weren’t alone in caring for her 24 hours a day, but honestly, I don’t mind being spent on her.

I just feel terrible that there isn’t more of me to go around. I also have no extra energy to think about school, and I often feel like a financial dead-weight in our little family. I just want to quit the PhD so I can go get some 35 hour a week paying job when Avery is in day care and at least take some of the pressure off my wife. Right now I can’t even remember what passion for my research used to feel like… Again, my love for Avery has cast everything else in my life into the shadows.

I don’t know if this is something I should be able to control, and if I need to somehow redistribute my emotional capacity. I don’t know how to do that. There is only so much of me to give.


12 thoughts on “Haven’t mastered the mom/wife/student balance

  1. I think most moms go through this. I can tell you that at 6 months postpartum I am only now getting back into the swing of work and really enjoying it. My wife and I are just now getting better about making time for each other in the evenings. It’ll happen. You’re both going through a huge life change and it’s gonna be bumpy sometimes. You’re both doing so great, just know that this incredibly intense focus on the baby is temporary.

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  2. I completely understand what you are going through right now. The first few months is hard on marriage! Even now, our marriage. emotional support for each other, and even physical contact – it’s all less of a priority. Right now (and I assume for years to come) our priority is Baby MPB and that has resulted in some hard days for us as a couple.
    We are now trying to go for lunch together without Baby MPB at least once a month (we do lunch because we have a nanny during the day already so not an additional babysitting cost). It helps, and I highly recommend carving out just a small amount of time for the two of you. That said, there was no way we were ready to do that when Baby MPB was as young as Avery is now – give yourself the time you need and try to be patient with each other for the time being.

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  3. I have been in your shoes. Am in your shoes. And have been and am in your wife’s shoes. It’s hard. It gets better and worse depending on other life stresses. Part of it is learning the new normal for energy available for your relationship. There will never be as much as there used to be, but there will be more than there is now. Infant and toddler years are hard because those of us with touch thresholds meet them with our kids by 9 am.
    But it does get better.

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  4. Time will improve things. Maybe not as quickly as you’d both like, but it will get easier bit by bit until you find your stride again. Having an infant was the hardest thing my relationship has ever been through, but it has gotten just a tiny bit easier with each passing month. I know that’s not much comfort when you’re in the thick of things. You both just have to find a way to hang on. Just for a while.

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    • Thanks ☺ We have experience waiting for dark days to pass before we could be emotionally available to each other while my wife’s mother was terminally ill for 5 years. At least this time we have something wonderful and good keeping us from each other.


  5. I remember that the first 8 weeks with Roo were the same for us. We started talking about couples counseling. I felt like I had nothing else to give and really torn between the baby and my wife, it was horrible. Then (and I’m fully aware that this isn’t helpful) Roo started sleeping through the night and suddenly everything else seemed easier. It was the sleep deprivation that was making it so much harder. Cut yourself and her some slack. It does get better. Good luck.

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  6. It’s still SO EARLY. Honestly, I didn’t feel able to do much besides nurse the baby, eat and sleep until the end of mat leave, and only had the tiniest bit of capacity after that. It will get better, but your focus is where it should be right now.
    Does your wife have other friends or close colleagues who can be her support right now? It sounds like you do the bulk of the child care, so it’s actually kind of understandable that you can’t be as fully present emotionally. Maybe there needs to be some re-evaluation all around?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, she did decide to lean on her aunt today which made us both feel better. Also, the big transition at work was her handing in her resignation today. She got a local job that will have her home by 4:30 or 5 every day instead of 7 or 8, which means our childcare and housekeeping responsibilities will be able to be reevaluated now. Phew!
      Thanks for the reassurance. Every time I try to do too much (mentally, physically, emotionally) I get discouraged, but you’re right that it’s still early!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yay! It sounds like there are some very good changes on your horizon (plus the big one, which is that adorable little leech becoming a more engaging, sleeping and independent baby!)

        Liked by 1 person

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