You are exhausted after an intense day (in general, your days are always intense) you get into bed dead tired, but your mind is still working: reviewing everything you did that day and everything you stopped doing. If you are very tired you take a mental note of your earrings, if you are not very tired and you are a new mom like me, you run to point them to your agenda so you do not forget (just as surely you forget something).
The next morning, the same thing: you wake up thinking about the thousand things to do for the house (shopping, menu, cleaning, arrangement, paperwork) and for your family (homework, sports, agendas, communications with the school, with other parents and several other things) including their emotional needs. You go out to work, to do your things, but always with these earrings in your mind. They are there when you lie down, they are there when you get up.
All these pending that surround the care of the home and the attention of all living beings that inhabit it (including pets and plants), all this unpaid and intangible work (which always falls on women) are known as “invisible work”. A job that while well-done nobody notices (but, the second that something fails if they notice) is known as ” mental load”. A burden that inhabits the minds of all women and becomes heavier once we become mothers.
And why does this mental burden become heavier with motherhood? Because we want it or not and despite the fact that there are more and more fathers involved in the upbringing of their children, the bulk of the responsibility and direction in parenting rests with us mothers. We are the ¨CEO¨ of the home company. We are the ones who constantly think of all the pending and logistic organizations that we have to do for the children and the house. For example, as I write this I look at the time and think: it’s almost 2:00 pm I must pick up my little girl from school, bring her home, take her to the pediatrician. Choose warm clothes because the DOC is cold. I see the clothes a little girl, it’s time to check everyone’s clothes and see what they have left for the change of season. Same shoes. I have to go, Low to arrange lunch (from the weekly menu that I already organized on Monday) and I see that several things are over, so I have to go back to the supermarket. I go after doc. I’m leaving with my other daughter, I have to coordinate her new therapy schedule too. I take a moment mother-daughter, I do not want to resent me. Oops, then I’m going to miss my oldest son. Impossible today. Morning. I accompany him to tennis and take the opportunity to coordinate my daughter’s birthday invitations and advance my charming earrings …
And so all day, every day.
This is a mental burden. Having under your responsibility the administration, coordination, planning (and even) the execution of activities, events, invitations, medical issues and educational and emotional needs of children and the home.
Our partners can help us and of course, they do. But, we have to tell them how, when and where. And, many times, it is so heavy and complicated to have to give so many instructions that we prefer to save the process and do without your help. This is how Emma Clit describes it in her comics, if we were in a corporation we would be the “project leaders” and our partners would be our subordinates. Well, in the end “the home project” is our responsibility. And because of that, they don’t do anything extra than we specifically asked them.
And this is the reason why talking about the mental burden of motherhood is important because it exists, because it weighs and because, as always happens when you are promoted to project leader, you stop having time to execute the project actions because you do not You can do it alone. But, we mothers cannot afford not to participate executively in the children’s project. We must do it, although the mental burden is heavy. Although it is not shared, even if we need help.