Thursday, February 19, 2015

She Wears a Cardigan Beneath Her Dress

I wake up before the alarm, as I often do when I am worried. One hour and 32 minutes early. My hands are shaky and I feel so much nervous energy, like I could start twitching. Behind my tired and heavy eyes, my mind immediately starts running 1,000 miles a minute.

My heart seems to be pounding in my chest. It’s not deafening, but I notice it. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. You’re not supposed to notice your own heart beat—it’s like breathing, it’s something you do unconsciously but it becomes laborious when you’re mindful of it. 

I try to be still and quiet so as not to wake him. I try to silence my mind and to relax my muscles but I realize it’s futile. I reach for my phone and read my emails, check for new photos on Instagram, and take a peek at the weather for the day—frigid, yet again. But no matter how still I try to be, he always seems to know when I’m not restful and he begins to stir. Three gentle taps of his big, calloused hands on my arm tells me he loves me even when he’s still too sleepy to say it out loud.

He wakes up at his 6 a.m. alarm. He likes to be punctual and he has this habit of waking up hours before the time when he would absolutely have to wake up. He really does it for me, but he doesn’t say so.

I tell him that I’ll come downstairs too—there’s a lot that needs to be done and I won’t be able to sleep anyways. He tells me to stay put and to rest—I need it. So I do. I’m not able to sleep, but I enjoy the silence of the morning, the stillness of the house, the softness of the sheets, and the morning light peeking around the shades.

Even though I feel like curling up in a ball and staying there forever, I roll out of bed. I’m very quiet so as not to wake the baby. The old wooden floor creaks under my socked feet and I anticipate the dependable morning chatters of her morning wake. While the noise does bring joy to my heart, I also feel like cringing because it means I have to start the day. Another day. Yet another day. And I don’t know if I have the strength.

When I come down the stairs I smell the distinct woodsy smell of his soap. The air is warm and moist. He is freshly shaven and dressed in a white cotton shirt and red boxer shorts. I could forever breathe that smell—close my eyes and savor its pleasantness and how uniquely it is him. But there’s too much to be done and so I simply let the moment pass seemingly unnoticed.

I mutter good morning. He asks me what’s wrong. I sharply deny anything and everything. Nothing. It’s always nothing, yet it’s everything and I just can’t understand or express it all.

And then I notice. The clean dishes are put away, even though not exactly like I would put them away—I try not to focus on that because I know it’s not really important, but I still let it irritate me. The dirty dishes are loaded in the dishwasher, precisely the way that he believes is the best way to get them clean. He’s folding warm towels.

I breathe a sense of relief, but feel guilty that he has done all of this. I’m supposed to be the homemaker now, why am I struggling so much? Appreciation overflows from the cup of my very soul and I tell him how thankful I am for how much he does. His actions are precious gifts.

Feeling courageous after hearing his actions speak, I tell him how I feel. I am nervous. I worry that while we are out that baby will be out of control, that I won’t know how to keep her quiet, that everyone will be staring and judging me as a bad mother, that I don’t know what I’m doing, that I can’t keep afloat in this motherhood role. I am so nervous and it’s making me on edge. I desperately don’t want to feel nervous. I want to feel normal.

And he hugs me, assures me that he’ll be there and he will help. It will be ok. I breathe him in and I feel better.

The sun continues to rise while I make breakfast, feed the baby, brew coffee, plan lunch, make bottles, pack the baby bag, clear the dishes off the table, clean up the kitchen, and plan our outfits. It’s never enough though. There’s always more to be done. I’m exhausted and the day has barely begun.

I take a moment to sit down to finish my coffee, which has grown cold. I close my eyes and long for a caffeine rush but, as usual, it never comes. My mind does feel better for resting, but I still have to shower. I am in a nervous frenzy as I rush into the bathroom to get ready. I tell him that I don’t think I’m ever going to have enough time to get myself ready and to dress the baby. I try to hurry. I’m worried, nervous, and anxious.

When I step out of the shower, he is getting his clothes together. I hear the baby whining as she crawls towards the bathroom. I immediately start to panic and feel overwhelmed, even resentful. Though it doesn’t all lie on my shoulders, I feel like it does.

He picks up the baby and starts to sing “The Wheels on the Bus”, her favorite song and instant soother. His manly voice singing this childish song is a sweet melody to my heart. When I look at them both, my heart absolutely melts when I see he has dressed her.

Her gray cardigan sweater is buttoned up and beneath her purple and white polka dotted dress instead of over top of it.  She’s wearing pink athletic style socks, but otherwise she is bare legged with no tights on. Her hair is disheveled and unruly. As he holds her like she is his masterpiece, his brown eyes are sparkling and he is beaming with pride.

Although she looks slightly irritated, her pretty pink lips curl and she smiles her toothy, slobbery grin. She bounces in excitement.

And I giggle at the sight of it all. And then I start laughing so hard I feel like I could cry. He laughs too, but doesn’t know why I’m laughing.

I’m pretty sure there is no greater love than his on this earth. And I am so grateful that he shares it with me.


This post was written prior to a postpartum depression diagnosis. This is a snapshot of a moment of an ordinary day with postpartum depression.

This post is also in response to the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge on Pinterest, “Spouse/significant other” writing prompt.


  1. I love this. So heartfelt. And I'm glad for the giggle at the end. I can just imagine the outfit. So funny. Chin up. You're gonna get this all under control and you'll be in charge soon. Xo

  2. Yes so very honest and real. I enjoyed reading it very much!!! I feel some of the same struggles at home even without kids.

  3. Yes so very honest and real. I enjoyed reading it very much!!! I feel some of the same struggles at home even without kids.

  4. Sounds like you have taken a giant step by not letting the cardigan-beneath-her-dress become a big deal. Keep up the good work!! Baby steps to begin with.

  5. Hehe I remember many times when hubby was helping by dressing a baby girl and she didn't look quite right. So funny. And my husband doesn't seem to get where the dishes go either after living here for 10 years. Ha! At least they help, though, right? And it did take me a while to realize that instead of getting irritated that things weren't "perfect."

  6. This was beautiful! I didn't want it to end! Enjoyed this!



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