It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. I’m awake because of an anxiety-induced nightmare. Hopefully, I’ll fall back to sleep. Most likely, though, I will not. I’ll spend the next few hours obsessing over things I need to do. This mama’s mind is never at rest.
- Did Bailey brush her teeth last night?
- Speaking of which, I need to request a dental appointment.
- Wally is due for a teeth cleaning, so I need to make an appointment for him, too.
- Uggh! I forgot to make sausages for tomorrow’s breakfast.
- Is Bailey’s yellow folder in her backpack? Nope. I’ll need to put it in there in the morning.
This is how my days usually begin. Thoughts reel across my brain like stock updates on ticker tape until my alarm goes off. After getting myself dressed, I make sure Bailey is up and ready. I fold laundry or straighten the living room. I make breakfast for myself, cleaning the kitchen as I go. I fill the water pitcher. I attach Bailey’s water bottle to her lunch box and add the ice packs. I pack my school stuff, purse, and lunch. I make sure Bailey has her backpack, lunch box, and a jacket.
When we arrive at school, I begin round two. I make a million decisions throughout the day. After all, I’m responsible for the hearts and minds of 21 kiddos, including my own. When I leave school at 5:30 p.m, it seems I’m leaving a million more things to do the next day.
By the time I get home, I’m exhausted–emotionally, physically, and mentally. Though my job is over for the day, my work is nowhere near complete.
- I read the homework and sign it when it’s complete.
- I schedule the parent conference.
- I order the school t-shirt or the spring pictures.
- I add next month’s Family Movie Night to the calendar.
- I sign the behavior log and permission slips.
- I ensure she’s had a bath. (Except for Friday Fridays.)
- I request a dentist appointment online.
- I RSVP to her friends birthday parties.
- I buy birthday presents for her friends to open. (What are boys into these days?)
- I sign her up for enrichment classes.
- I buy the ice cream for her class party.
The day’s happenings and my own thoughts have me frazzled. By 9:30 p.m., I’m in bed or asleep because tomorrow I’ll get up and do it all over again, whether I’m ready or not. Usually, I’m not.
But…I’m doing this to myself – the mental workload of motherhood
True, I never officially proclaimed myself the appointment maker or the homework warden. So, why is the responsibility placed on me? Maybe it’s because I carry Bailey on my insurance or because I’m a teacher, so it makes sense I carry those responsibilities. Or maybe it’s my Type A personality. Whatever the reason, though, does it have to be this way? Do I have to be the one to buy the ice cream or RSVP to the birthday party?
The simple answer is no. My darling, modernist husband is absolutely capable of buying ice cream and helping with homework; however, in the 6 years we’ve been parents, I really haven’t given him a chance to do it. My daughter is capable of gathering her own homework materials and filling out her own reading log. But, I take it on because it’s what I do. It’s what moms do, historically speaking, of course.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be this way, and, really, it shouldn’t be this way. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, 70% of women with children under the age of 18 participate in the labor force. So, not only are women working almost as much as our male counterparts, who account for 93% of the labor force, we’re also taking on the extra emotional and mental workload of motherhood after work hours because it’s what we do and what we’ve always done. But, again, it doesn’t have to be this way. I should’ve asked for help. I will ask for help. I am asking for help.
So, my challenge–for both myself and my mom friends–is to take at least 5 of those motherly to-dos on your list and delegate them. Renegotiate them. Your mental health deserves it. Your family deserves it. You deserve it.