When There’s Nothing Left to Give

Laura O'Rourke

WaterAid America - our December sponsor“I have nothing left to give you.”

Those are hard words to hear from your husband.

My maternity leave is ending. As a Canadian, I took full advantage of the available leave and have been off work for nearly a year. The workplace I left asked if and when I was coming back and the decision that I haven’t wanted to contemplate is now upon me. The reality of the situation is setting in.

Last year, during my second trimester with my third baby, my husband was offered a new position at work. It was good for his career, but for our family, it meant that Dan would be working more often with later hours. His nine-to-five would be considerably elongated. I admitted that it would be tough, but if it was best for him, we make it work. I would make it work, even though I couldn’t know what life with three children would look like.

Women give to their families like this all the time. We know things will get harder. We don’t know what the future will bring. But we say, “Go. Do it. Be amazing. I’ll be here. I’ll take care of things. I love you.”

This past year has been hard for all of us. I know my husband tries so hard to give himself to his family as much as he possibly can, but I’ve taken on more at home than I ever have at the very same time that we’ve added another baby to the family. There are days when I have nothing left to offer any of them. On those days, I want to pick up the phone and make him come home. But I don’t.

The email from work had been sitting in my inbox and on my conscience for two weeks. Our plan was for me to stay home, but making that a reality was frightening. “I need to reply,” I told Dan.

He asked about the budget. How does the cost of childcare compare to my salary? Can we survive on the smaller income? Isn’t finding a new job easier when you’re already employed?

I answered: We break even. I don’t know, but we’re short on cash whether I go back or not. Where will I find time to look for a new job when I’m working full-time, still caring for the kids and the house mostly on my own?

What if I tried to make it work from home? What if I used some of my marketable skills to bring in income while caring for the kids? What if I didn’t go back to work? What if I finally started doing the work that I want to do?

I was looking for him to say, “Go. Do it. Be amazing. I’ll be here. I’ll help take care of things. I love you.”

Instead, he said: “I can’t help you find more time for that, Laura. I am already stretched so thin. I have nothing left to give you.”

In a family, everyone gives some. We give and we take and we compromise. We give time and we give order. We give to jobs so that we can give financially to the budget. We give and we give and we give…

…until we just cannot give any more.

What happens when both parents feel that way, and yet the family is still falling short? The budget doesn’t balance. The kitchen is a mess. The homework isn’t done. You already don’t sleep, and the kids are getting you at your worst? What then?

I think, we Moms just keep on giving.

If you’re wondering what I did about work, I told them I wasn’t going back. If this is all on me anyway, I’m doing it my way. I’m going to be amazing. I can take care of things. I will find more to give. I can do this because I love my family.



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When There’s Nothing Left to Give was written by Laura O’ Rourke exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.

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Laura O’Rourke is a blogger from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is currently on maternity leave and home with three boys. She writes about finding the beauty in the mess of motherhood on her blog, Mommy Miracles. Her blog has been listed on multiple Top 10 Canadian Blog lists. Laura runs an online book club for busy Moms called MomsReading.