A Mother’s Day Letter (2020)
Dr. James Emery White Dr. James Emery White's weblog
- 2020 May 07
I read of a letter that a husband reportedly wrote to his wife. She had left him and their son after a fight, and two days later he wrote her this letter:
Two nights ago, we had a huge argument. I was exhausted when I got home from work. It was 8 p.m. and all I wanted to do was to lie down and watch the game.
You weren’t in a good mood, and you were clearly tired after having a long day. You were trying to put the baby to sleep as the other kids were fighting, and all I did was turn the volume up.
“Would it kill you to play a more active role in your children’s upbringing?” you asked, turning the television volume back down. “You can help out more around the house, too.”
“Hey,” I said defensively, “I work hard all day just so you could play in the doll’s house all day.” The argument just kept going like that. I said terrible things to you that I can never take back, and you screamed, saying that you were sick of it all. So you tearfully ran out of the house, leaving me to take care of the children on my own.
I was forced to feed the kids and put them to bed all by myself. When you didn’t come back the next day, I was forced to ask my boss if I could take a day off so I could take care of the children.
I experienced the crying and the tantrums. I experienced having to run around so much all day that I didn’t even have a chance to shower.
I experienced being forced to heat the milk, getting the kids dressed and cleaning the kitchen all at once. I experienced being cooped up all day without speaking to an adult. I experienced the inability to sit calmly at the table to have a relaxed meal whenever I wanted, because I had to run after the kids.
I experienced feeling so physically and emotionally drained that I just wanted to sleep for 20 hours straight, but had to get up a few hours after falling asleep because the baby was crying. I lived two days and two nights the way that you do, and I think I get it now.
I get your exhaustion. I get that being a mother is all about sacrifice. I get that it is more tiring than being among corporate bigwigs for 10 hours and making economic decisions.
I get how frustrated you must be to have to sacrifice your job and financial freedom so that you can provide for your children. I get how uncertain you are about the fact that your economic security now depends on your partner and not just you. I get how hard it is to not be able to hang out with your friends, exercise or get a good night’s sleep.
I get how challenging it is, being locked up and being forced to watch the children while imagining what you must be missing in the outside world. I also get that you become upset when my mother criticizes how you choose to raise our children, because nobody in the world knows what is best for children like their own mother.
I get that being a mother means carrying society’s greatest burdens. Being the person that nobody appreciates, values or remembers. I write you this letter not just to tell you that you are missed, but additionally because I don’t want to do another day without telling you: “You are strong, doing an excellent job and I admire you.”
Happy Mother’s Day.
James Emery White
This blog was first published in 2017. The Church & Culture Team thought you’d enjoy reading it again as we approach Mother’s Day.
Paul Fox, “Man Whose Wife Left Him and Their Kids After a Fight Posts a Letter Online 2 Days Later,” Boredom Therapy, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.