Managing The Mental Load Of Motherhood and Modern Life

Managing The Mental Load Of Motherhood and Modern Life

It’s been a while. I know. I’m sorry. I’ve just been trying to stay afloat. That’s all. There are no exciting updates, no news, no trips anywhere, nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s just been that overwhelming feeling recently of not keeping on top of life. You know how it is? The fridge gets refilled, but the laundry gets forgotten about. You know? One step forwards, two steps back. And I know what you’re also thinking, “girl doesn’t have a (proper) job”. I KNOW. Honestly, and this will make no sense to anyone but myself possibly, but I swear I was more organised when I seemingly had less time. Yes, I worked full time as well as everything else, but I also more hot cups of tea available. Coincidence? I think not. Besides, I do WORK now. It’s just 99% of the time the work I do is behind the scenes of family life, and obviously unpaid. And it’s abit bonkers because in any other scenario, if I was anyone else I would be paid. Not much perhaps, but something’s always better than nothing. Even paid work as a freelancer has taken a back burner since the beginning of 2018. Because, seriously, LIFE. It’s the mental load. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the mental load, there was a BRILLIANT comic go round a while back. And my goodness was it relatable. I mean, it’s called You Should’ve Asked. Need I say more?

Anyway, not to throw heaps of shade at my husband – or indeed any man – but I am, at age 29 years and 11 months, succumbing to the mental load. And if ANYONE, not pointing any fingers, tells me that I should have just asked for help / support / a team mate / a hand etc then there miiight be an issue. Well there’s no might about it actually. We have an issue. And I know, I know. I’m just at home with the kids. WHAT have I got to complain about? I can just write a few more lists. After all I am the project manager of what we shall somewhat grandly term Abbey Family and Properties Ltd. Oh and I do happen to love a list (so much that I wrote about them. Weirdo.). But I am top of the pecking order around here. Sort of. At least, as the PM I should know everything that has been done, needs doing, needs replacing, need adding to a list, crossing off a list, or outsourcing (including recruitment of said outsourced service provider).

Ironically I do actually hold a qualification in project management – what feels like a relic from a previous life at this point. Which it’s own twisted way proves the point of this entire mind meltdown altogether. A professional project manager is a well respected job. Well respected also, often, equates to well paid. I’ll try not to focus too heavily on the monetary element to this. But I will just make one ever so quick point. I am working in a business model whereby the most under of underlings (the micro-managed small children) get paid for their chores. I do not. And, let me just gently remind you, I am at the top. I’m Le Grande Fromage as my dad would say. I’m the MANAGER (insert a gold name sign here please). 

Spoiler alert: there’s no gold name sign

Oh but wait. I’m also the do-er. As in, I plan, I manage, and I do. Even when I don’t, I do. Abbey Family and Properties Ltd is an equal opportunities employer – hollaaa – and my male subordinate (hi husband!) shows excellent initiative in the area of washing up. I really can’t fault him. Except that he can only complete his task if the Head of Acquisitions (hello, yes that’s me again) has ensured a never ending supply of tools required to complete the task. So even though I don’t (often) have to get my hands dirty, so-to-speak, I do have to keep in close contact with the Head of Housekeeping. Luckily that’s a very easy relationship to manage because guess what…? ME AGAIN. It is no miracle that household sundries just appear. Although, even writing that did make me think about this viral vid. Alas there is no magical self-clearing coffee table here either. 

If you read the comic I linked to earlier in this post about the mental load issue (and if you haven’t you absolutely should), then I’ll stop right now. I’m not going to write out every last little thing I think about and do and how my husband doesn’t. Unless instructed to of course. Because that’s not helpful. Aaand it’s also all quite familiar and obvious to my largely female readership. However, I will say this. BS (that’s before Singapore), when one of the plates dropped – when my brain had reached mental load capacity – and something was forgotten I was FAR more forgiving. I felt everyone else was FAR more forgiving too. Doing a 2am dash out to the 24 hour Sainsbury’s petrol station for toilet roll / calpol / tomorrow mornings brekkie was almost a badge of honour. Like, LOOK at how busy I am. LOOK at how I’m doing EVERYTHING. All these plates are spinning, and even when it goes tits up I STILL HAVE A PLAN. Because I’m Super Woman. Super Mom. Super Wife. I felt like I had to be absolutely frazzled to be seen to be doing A-okay at life. It’s all a bit mad, isn’t it?

Whereas now, with my fairly nonchalent approach to homeschooling, and frankly non-existent approach to domestic chores, I’m a whole lot less frazzled. My vitamin D intake has shot up, but for some weird reason, so too has my levels of self criticism. I thought it would be the other way round. I thought balmy sunshine, lazy afternoons at the beach with my kids and watermelon saturation would leave me a whole lot more kind to myself, about myself. I mean it sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? But there’s no 24 hour Sainsbury’s petrol station here. When we’re out of toilet roll, we’re out of toilet roll. And who’s fault is it for not keeping on top of household essentials? The Head of Housekeeping. ME. And when the chain of command breaks, who is it that is ultimately answerable to the client? The Project Manager. And who is the PM? Yep…me. It’s never-ending, and it’s also enough to make me wonder, “is it time to get a “proper” job again?” Am I just not set out to be a modern stay at home wife and mother….?

 

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