On average my husband will add around three things to our shopping list: shaving cream, shampoo, and shower spray. That’s all. It’s not really his fault. I’ll make sure to add the thousands of other things we need as the one in charge of the house. I didn’t interview for this position yet here I am.
I’m a stay at home mom, which means I’m the one managing everything.
I still work of course, albeit from our kitchen table. Have you ever tried to write an essay on the joys of motherhood while teaching kids how to papier-mâché? I have.
The mind of a mom is always moving and moving fast. It goes in a million different directions because we’re managing more than just kids and shopping lists. We’re managing everything. We’re thinking about cleaning, cooking, organizing, planning, dressing, gifts, brushing, laundry, and caring about literally everything.
A lucky mother has a good husband that will help out when they can. Even with someone doing some of the chores though, it’s still up to mom to manage everything. Even a good husband needs some to remind them when the kids need picking up, when they have practice, buy dishwasher pods and garbage bags, and pick things up from the store.
This is why mothers are so tired all the time. We have “mom brain”, and this is a real thing. Everything moms do places a heavy mental load on their brains. Women are always managing what is happening in their household and what has to be done and that takes a lot of brainpower.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help girls. Sometimes you have to, even if you feel you shouldn’t need to.
Susan Walzer, a sociologist with Skidmore College published a research article called “Thinking About the Baby” in 1996 that does a good job of explaining things. Susan interviewed 23 new parents and found that women were indeed carrying the bulk of the mental load. Women were found to notice what had to be done even if they got help doing it in the end.
This was made obvious to me when I find myself traveling for work. I make sure to pre-pack lunches, buy easy-to-cook dinners, do all the laundry, lay out clothes, and write out a schedule before I get on the plan. I’m putting together plans ahead of time; plans that I’m not even factored into.
When my husband travels for work he just gives us all kisses and says goodbye.
I understand that I am the one putting this self-inflicted mental load on myself. This is my burden to bear. I’m the one that spends all her time thinking, worrying and planning. With that said, I fully expect my husband would be fine if I wasn’t doing any of this. I’m sure the kids would be happy. Of course he’d feed them things he shouldn’t and they’d dress themselves in mismatched colors but they would be happy and the world would keep turning.
But then I come back and my husband is happy. He’s able to pass me the mental burden. Me; the manager in residence. The balance of the home is restored and I go back to what I was doing before; lying in bed all night making mental lists and making note of every dirty sock I see.
This, my dear mothers, is why we’re always so gosh-darn tired all the time.