The Curse of the Mental Load
I talk about "mental load" a lot, but this image really spoke to me today. This week I've been planning our family's summer. We finally feel comfortable sending our 5 year old to camps this summer (he's quite a handful in many ways). So I searched for summer programming in town, gathered all my info, made sure child care would be available, made sure that none of the drop offs & pick ups overlapped for either kid, made sure we could fit them into our budget, and made sure to space them out appropriately so that there was still down time, but busy enough not to get board and drive us all to insanity. *takes a breath* Not only did I plan them, I also created a paper and digital calendar, laying it all out to have handy for myself, the sitter, and the husband.
While I was doing that, I figured, may as well plan any summer vacations we would want to take. So budgeted for those, booked some things, and planned to visit with some out of town friends and family. I made sure to save room for some spontaneous day trips.
So what's left is to make my schedule/hours for the store and wait for David's schedule to make sure we actually have the right days off. Can you believe my hard work was met with some annoyance this week? *long sigh* I feel like some kind of calendar-making super hero! Does no one appreciate this? (It's color-coded!! Does this mean nothing?!)
Well, sadly, this is "the norm". I do it every month; you probably do too, one way or another. The difference this time was of course that I was planning the whole summer which is two months away and three months long. And what's more is that this is literally one tidbit of my responsibility. The day-to-day worries, fears, chores, etcetera are still there.
Yesterday I asked my husband what he would do without (me, and) the calendars I create and my planner. He said, nonchalantly, " I dunno, I'd probably just schedule less stuff." BLESS HIS HEART, YA'LL. He's an amazing dad & I love him, but sometimes I really wonder!
So yes, mental load is real. Yes, it is often exhausting. Yes, I will continue to do it day after day with the exception of short vacations (And, side note, when I say vacation, I mean one without kids. Vacations with kids aren't real vacations)!
Some days I'm mentally tired. Sometimes I complain or get annoyed with the weight of responsibility. That is okay. While my husband may never be able to find things that are literally right in front of him, my kids will likely grow up, move out, and no longer need mom to make their plans.
So, to the parents carrying the mental load: I see you. I'm proud of you. You are holding it all together. To the rest of you, Bless your hearts! What would you do without us?!
Written by Kelly Plair
South Coast Baby Company