I knew from the start that being someone’s mom would change everything. I was ready to be busier, more tired, and even more caffeinated. It was a given that being pulled in 12,000 directions at once would become the rule instead of the exception. But I guess I wasn’t ready for the toll of mom’s silent workload.
I wasn’t prepared to be a mom, the carpool queen, and a short-order cook who made six different meals for three different people. I didn’t realize I’d be the only parent capable of making appointments, buying birthday gifts, or planning playdates. Or that I would be the default parent. You know, the parent all children run to, regardless of whether another capable human being is within arm’s reach.
Expectations for Mom’s Silent Workload is Exhausting
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the chaos that is parenting. But what is emotionally exhausting is the expectation that I am the only one who can do just about everything. For example, I’m finally getting a chance to wrap up this article, not at my desk or during the time I scheduled to finish my work. No. I am sitting in one of those uncomfortable, round, backless chairs at my kid’s dental appointment, trying to balance my PC on one knee while jumping back and forth between this office and my other kiddo’s appointment in ortho down the hall.
So, why don’t I work on it when I get home? Because after the appointments, I go home to make dinner and help with homework. And after that, there’s wrangling kids into the shower, loading the dishwasher, and trying for the third time this week to actually fold the baskets of laundry we’ve been living out of. And, of course, I can’t forget that soccer starts again next week. Oh, and how could I forget the playdates need to be arranged during summer break? The mental checklist of what needs to be done, what our family has coming up, and what I put off until tomorrow is draining. Seriously – there isn’t enough coffee in the world.
Leaving Things for Others Means Mom’s Silent Workload Increases
It’s exhausting. And it seems like the older my kids get, the more chaotic life becomes. So, what’s a mom to do? Lean on my spouse? Empower my kids to take more responsibility? Yeah, well, it’s all good in theory. But the actual execution is an entirely different ball game. As any mom knows, you can leave everyone to fend for themselves, but it creates more work for you in the long run.
What’s more, on top of feeling run down and burnt out from mom’s silent workload, it feels like I’m the only one who struggles. Do other moms feel like they are about to lose their minds each time they run late to an appointment? Do they feel the overwhelming guilt that comes with having to say no again and again because they don’t have one ounce of energy left? I love being a mom to these kids, but that love doesn’t make me superhuman.
It always seems that this silent emotional workload falls on me. No, I don’t go into an office, but I am self-employed as a writer. But my spouse treats my work like it isn’t “real work.” Because I don’t report to a manager or corporate office, my work somehow means less than his. And, of course, his attitude isn’t limited just to the work I do that generates income.
Handling Home Managerial Duties is Heavy Lifting
Managing our family calendar and keeping a running list of what soaps, toiletries, and cleaners must be picked up at the store is work. And don’t forget, answering emails, scheduling appointments, and filling out paperwork all take time and energy. Any time I mention one of these mundane to-dos and receive a response that is somewhere along the lines of, well, doing that is sort of your job, isn’t it? Cue the intense irritation.
If becoming a mom and a wife meant I turned into my family’s beck-and-call person – it’s news to me. For once, just once, I’d love not to do all the things that my family thinks magically get done every day. What would happen if they all had to make their own dinner? Who would throw their dirty laundry into the washer? How would the pantry make it through a week or two with no one to restock it? When would they realize they’ve used the last roll of toilet paper? (Honestly, I laugh out loud thinking about that last one.)
I’m Just Asking for a Bit of Help
But here’s the most important thing, the essential thing I need my family to understand: The heaviness of mom’s silent workload wouldn’t feel so heavy if everyone pitched in a little bit. Even the littlest things, like someone else deciding what I should make for dinner or simply moving their glass to the sink when they’re done with it, would help immensely.
I don’t think I’m asking for too much. Truthfully, I don’t think any mom should have to get to her wit’s end before her family helps. So, to the spouses and partners reading this, take a minute to ask the mom in your life what you can help her with. Even if she seems to have it all together, I promise, she’ll appreciate the ask.
And to all the moms reading this, you aren’t alone and don’t have to do it all. Asking your family to help maintain the home, life, and chaos you all live in together isn’t a major thing. Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you should have to.