I spoke a sentence today that rang all the bells for me: I said, “I am in a perpetual state of confusion.”
As soon as the words left my lips what followed was a chorus in my head of ah-ha’s like you’d hear in the audience of the Oprah show.
Specifically I’m confused about a whole whack of things like what’s for dinner, which day is hockey, where the kids are next week, and whether we’re out of cream or not? Did we order groceries already and what’s the time slot for pick up and did we pay the hydro bill and did anyone empty the vacuum this month?
But seriously: What the hell is for dinner tonight? Did we already decide?
This state of confusion is an extension of the state all of us Mom’s are in. It’s — cue the dramatic bass notes — the mental load.
Two definitions if I might have lost you…
Mental load: verb The constant buzz in all the Mom’s heads; all the thinking about doing and planning and doing and next week and next project and WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
Another definition in the form of a comic if you’re so tired you need pictures not words: comic
#RealTalk: The mental load is so real I can taste it. It’s hanging in the air, sitting on my shoulders, and keeps me up at night.
There’s always something (insert exaggerated eye roll). Another task and another project and whether I’m doing the task, assigning the project, or enjoying the fruits of the labour, I’m exhausted about it.
So, what can we really do about it? Or, is this just a state we’ll be in ‘till we die and our graves will read something like: SHE RAN A GOOD HOUSEHOLD AND WORKED, TOO.
Here’s my new mantra: Let Go. Let Dad.
Once upon a time my Mom was a woman running a household, running a business, and working nights. She was the inspiration for 80’s movie about female empowerment and had a perm to go with it.
She worked all day with her kids and took us to her day job and then after that she made dinner for my Dad and then went to her night job.
Then one day she had a breakthrough (or possibly a breakdown!) and she quit making dinner. Did my Dad know how to cook then? Nope.
It took exhaustion, an ah-ha moment, a breakdown, a breakthrough — I’ll bet the former, for my Mom to shake her head and question herself: Why am I trying to do it all?
It makes me wonder how many Moms are assuming control, taking all the mental load themselves, and then crying in the bathtub about it?
Assuming control means you are not letting go and creating some space for Dads to rise up. You’re not asking for help and you’re drowning.
In the case of my Mom and Dad, you bet my Dad rose to the challenge. Sure, we ate mostly Hamburger Helper and we had some memorable disaster meals but he rose to the challenge and was a better Dad for it. It was another 90’s sitcom set-up: Mr. Mom.
Managing the mental load that us Mom’s are faced with today starts with Letting Go and Letting Dad. Question yourself, am I assuming control in this situation or can I share it?
Let Dad In
When I find myself in assuming control mode and I’m overwhelmed by my own mental load I make a point to Let In my husband and it goes something like this:
- I word vomit my mental load on my husband. I literally tell him every single thing I am thinking about, worrying about, planning, and doing. (Then he takes tasks, jobs, and projects accordingly.)
- I compartmentalize the things I do not need to think about right now and I point at them with calmness, “I will think about that tomorrow, next week, or later. Later is my mental junk drawer or;
- I write down the word vomit and compartmentalize if no one is around to listen and help
Burning ourselves out, sacrificing ourselves for our children and out of principle isn’t noble it’s dangerous. It seems easier to just do the work and do it all but it’s dangerous, too. It’s not sustainable and it sure as hell won’t make us happier.
By not letting him in we can condition him to feel useless which in turn will make him act more useless until you’re in an unyielding cycle of frustration and uselessness that will last for eternity until you smother him in his sleep. Just kidding.
Save yourself! Let Dad suffer with you!
Photo Credit: unsplash-logoNaletu