Let’s begin with something simple like a list of necessities for the house. My husband has always added only these items – his own toiletries, and shower spray. I can’t really blame him because I usually write down the other bazillion items we need to keep the four of us functioning smoothly. But this is because the role of running the house seems to have been given to me by default from the day of our wedding.
I work from home so I just ended up managing all the things we need to get by in our daily lives. Every day, I try to write some article that will take the internet by storm while also teaching the children things like finger painting and origami.
All mothers have a thousand different things going on in their heads at all times, and the kids and the groceries don’t even make a dent in their list of things to do. The house has to be kept clean, food has to be cooked, life has to be planned out and organized, kids have to be dressed, gifts must be procured for every occasion, laundry needs to be done, the rugs need to brushed down, and on and on and on.
There are of course some men who are more than willing to help out. My husband drives the kids to school and puts them to bed, mows the lawn, gets rid of the trash and cleans all the dishes. But he wouldn’t be able to do all this if I wasn’t micromanaging at the back. I have to keep track of when he needs to get the children and take them to their different activities, make sure that we have dishwashing soap, plastic bags for the trash, change the tooth brushes, refill the toothpaste and even make sure that there are new stories to read before bed.
And this, this is what wears all mothers out. Our brains are always running, running, running. We have a checklist and the more items we tick off, the longer the list gets. This is called the ‘mental load’ and it’s been portrayed perfectly by Emma, cartoonist. Her work is called ‘You Should Have Asked’ and it perfectly shows how mothers have to keep an account of all the things that are necessary for the household to function smoothly. Emma’s cartoon points out a very pertinent question, why do mothers always have to ask for help?
A study conducted on new parents at Skidmore College conclusively proved that it is mothers who have to bear most of the mental load. Though some of the husbands were ready to help, they never bothered to find out if something had to be done till their wives specifically pointed it out to them.
This is clearest to me when I need to go out of town for my work. I have to plan out meals for when I’m gone and leave them in the fridge, wash all the dirty clothes and put them out, leave a detailed list of instructions, and pretty much plan out everything, even though I’m not going to take part in any of it.
When my husband has to go out of town, he simply gives us all a kiss goodbye and boards his plane.
I know that I take up this burden myself. Nothing would stop if I didn’t make all these plans. True, the children might have to live on cake and fried chicken but they would think that that’s the best thing ever. Life will go on as it always does.
But when I come back, my husband is overjoyed because I shoulder the entire burden once again. I stabilize the household and spend every spare minute organizing, organizing, and organizing.
This is why we mothers are all just completely exhausted.