A devoted wife and mother finally collapses under the strain and her husband learned the truth about her stressful double life.
Suzie Werther was the perfect wife and mother, and a successful lawyer, and because the family was saving to buy a little cabin up by the lake for the summers, she didn’t have any help, as so many of her friends did.
Nevertheless, Suzie’s house was dust-free and sparkling, not a piece of lint darkened her floors, her husband’s shirts were always impeccably pressed, and the family’s meals were delicious, homemade, and always on time.
The sad thing, of course, was that nobody noticed the miraculous efforts Suzzie was pulling off to juggle all her duties and make sure all the household trains were working on time.
Then one day, Suzie was promoted, and the very little time she had for everything she had to do had to stretch even further. She talked to her husband Justin about turning down the job. “Honey,” she said. “Being head of the department is going to add a lot to my plate…”
“Baby,” said Justin, throwing his arm around her shoulder. “I know you can do it, and we can sure use the extra money you’ll be bringing in.” Suzie sighed, and Justin added, “So what time’s dinner”?
While Suzie was popping the lemongrass, bacon, and water chestnut stuffed chicken into the oven, their son Mark came to the kitchen door. “MOM!” he screamed. “You didn’t take care of my baseball equipment!”
“But hun, it wasn’t in the washing basket!” cried Suzie.
“You KNOW I need it on Wednesdays, Mom!” cried Mark. “You should have got it from my room!”
Suzie leaned back against the counter and closed her eyes. She was desperately tired, and now she had to go do some extra washing…
Just then her phone rang. “Hey, Suze!” cried her sister Kim’s cheerful voice on the other end of the line. “How’s superwoman?”
“Not so super right now,” Suzie admitted with a sigh. “I just feel it’s all become too much for me to handle on my own.”
“Then don’t!” said Kim. “Ask for help! I’m sure that Justin and Mark could do a lot more around the house, leave you a little spare time…” Suzie wasn’t so sure, but that night after dinner she did try.
“Mark,” she said. “You’re eleven, you could fix your own sandwiches for your lunch or eat at the cafeteria…”
“Oh, come on Mom!” Mark scoffed. “The cafeteria? Really? And to make my own sandwiches I’d have to get up SUPER early!”
“Come on, Suzie,” said Justin, winking at her. “You know there’s nothing like mom’s sandwiches, and you handle everything so beautifully!”
“Actually, Justin,” Suzie said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I was thinking you could start doing the dishes — tonight, for instance.”
No one can be everything to everyone all at the same time.
But Justin was hurriedly getting to his feet. “Sorry, Suzie, I have a very important meeting early in the morning. I need my rest, you know!” And Justin and Mark walked away from the table leaving all the work to Suzie.
She started clearing the table slowly, with tears in her eyes. They didn’t see her effort or her weariness. It was as if she had become invisible to her husband and son, except as a cleaner and housekeeper.
Suzie carried her son’s baseball equipment into the laundry room, put it in the machine, and set a wash and dry cycle. Then she went back upstairs and started clearing the dirty dishes away.
That was when Justin popped his head around the door. “Babe,” he cried, “could I ask you for a huge favor? Could you iron my favorite blue shirt? I want to look sharp tomorrow!”
Justin vanished without even waiting for a reply. Suzie looked around at her kitchen heaped with dirty dishes and felt her head swim. A few minutes later, Justin and Mark were startled by a crashing sound.
They ran downstairs to the kitchen and were astounded to find Suzie unconscious on the floor, splinters of glass and china all around her. The doctors diagnosed nervous exhaustion and put her on total bed rest at a clinic for two weeks.
Justin came home and looked around him. If Suzie could do this, so could he! On his way home from work, he popped into the grocery store before picking up Mark from baseball practice.
Looking at all the aisles and the shelves stuffed with a million items and choices, Justin ended up picking up a frozen lasagna and a ready-made salad. He and Mark got home, and Justin headed for the kitchen.
“DAD!” yelled Mark. “Aren’t you going to help me with my math first? Mom always does!” A flustered Justin popped the lasagna in the oven and sat down with his son and his math books.
They were busy working out a problem when Mark sniffed at the air. “Something’s burning, dad!” he cried. Justin got up with a yell and ran into the kitchen. The lasagna was done, in fact, it was a little crispy…
To Mark’s disgust, Justin served up slabs of the lasagna and added the salad. Mark tasted it, then poked at it with his fork. “That’s disgusting! Mom always makes her own lasagna, the REAL kind.”
“Well,” said Justin crossly. “I work, and I had to go shopping and fetch you from school…”
“So does mom,” said Mark. “AND she makes REAL food…”
Justin knew when he was beaten, but he started wondering. How did Suzie do it all? He knew what the evening held for him. He had the kitchen to clean, the next day’s lunch to pack for Mark, laundry to do, ironing…
He picked up the phone. “Hey Kim!” he greeted his sister-in-law. “Listen, I was wondering…Who does Suzie have to help her with the house?”
“No one,” said Kim. “Certainly not you or Mark. I know neither of you lifts a finger to help her, or even thank her — and that’s why she’s in the hospital Justin, she’s overworked!”
Kim said a great many other things, none of which Justin could deny, things which left him feeling very ashamed of himself. By the time he hung up the phone, he was determined that they were going to be some big changes around the house.
When Suzie came home two weeks later, she could hardly believe her eyes! The house was spick and span, there was a delicious roast in the oven and the table was set with candles and flowers.
From then on, Justin shared Suzie’s tasks equally, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and picking up Mark. Mark started getting up early to prepare his own lunch and was responsible for putting his clothes in the wash.
What can we learn from this story?
No one can be everything to everyone all at the same time. Suzie took on too many tasks and allowed her family to take advantage of her goodwill.
Make sure you show support and appreciation for the people you love. Justin only took Suzie’s pleas for help seriously after she collapsed.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.