The weight of the Mental Load can impact your marriage by breeding resentment. And, despite the fact that the Mental Load moms carry is HEAVY, we keep shlepping it around–day after day. We carry the load because the alternative is often even LESS appealing.
Moms believe carrying the mental load is easier than nagging or fighting about it, AND sometimes we SECRETLY believe it is part of the deal.
The Status Quo of the Mental Load
As explored in my previous post, husbands don’t like to stray from the tasks that have been delegated to them by the default manager (you). For example: they will cruise right by that towel laying in the middle of the hallway (AKA the hallway towel drive-by) without hesitation.
But, you, on the other hand, will pick it up EVERY SINGLE time for one of three reasons:
#1: The Nagging Housewife
Moms are not only the CREATORS of the To-Do List and DELEGATORS of the list, but we are also the ENFORCERS. It comes with the duties of management, does it not? The buck stops HERE.
If we don’t make sure it gets done by someone, then we have to do it. NOT OPTIMAL. So, we enforce, i.e. remind, leave hints, beg, and if necessary, yell.
But, what about the stuff that’s not on the “LIST.”
As it turns out, constant additions (particularly small ones like putting dishes away and picking up dirty towels) trigger the dreaded nagging label. From what I can reason, getting the NAG label is the equivalent of becoming your husband’s mother. (Ahem, that does nothing for your sex life, amiright?) Again, NOT optimal.
Thus, we handle it ourselves.
#2: Fight or Flight
By constantly curtailing our “nagging,” or by limiting the things we delegate, we take on more and more of those duties. Those little things ADD UP. It can make you tired, irritated, feel belittled, and even depressed. With that combo, you’re like a ticking time bomb.
So, by the time that hallway towel drive-by comes around, you are ready to BLOW.
You’re left with two choices:
- Choice 1: Come out swinging, OR
- Choice 2: Pick up the towel
If you end up losing it over a towel, then it makes you look “crazy.” Because, chances are, you’re not going to be YELLING about how unfair it is that you are doing it ALL (again!).
Though the number of fights add up as the weight of the mental load increases, more often than not, you’ll pick up that towel, AGAIN. You’ll pick it up because you don’t want to be the crazy woman yelling at her husband over a towel. Sigh.
#3: Does the mental load legitimately belong to STAY AT HOME MOMS?
Finally, this brings us to #3. This is the one that makes this mental load stuff so tricky. We start to believe that it IS our responsibility. WHY? I think it’s because it happens so gradually. Like putting on baby weight.
It could start with your husband slowly stops picking up after himself or making dinner. Then, other little tasks stop getting done–unless you do them. The change in household dynamics was so subtle you have a hard time pinpointing WHEN it actually happened.
Like the baby weight, it sneaks up on you. BUT, you know it’s there!
As a Stay At Home Mom, I have asked: Is it my responsibility? Did I sign up for this? Was this part of the trade-off? Sometimes I’ve found myself wondering if I just white-washed all the shitty parts of the job, so I could be all beamy and proud of my choice.
But, let’s look at this logically.
YES, as a SAHM it is logical that we would be responsible for the lion’s share of the Mental Load. But, it’s NOT logical that a husband should stop all adult behaviors simply because they punch a clock.
TRUTH: Dads are taking advantage of this arrangement.
The agreement, at least in my house, wasn’t made with the assumption that all ADULTING could come to a HAULT if one of us stayed at home with the kids. The agreement was that one would go to work and one would stay at home. I don’t remember someone getting elevated to royalty status as part of the bargain.
TRUTH: I wouldn’t have signed up for that “deal.”
Many SAHMs (and all moms really) are suffering unnecessarily under the weight of the mental load of a household. I speak from personal experience.
But, logically, unless you agreed to it, OR there is a serious health issue, there is no logical reason for all ADULTING to STOP. (I love the idea of specializing instead of delegating like this mama does!)
Also, just because it’s hard to know WHEN AND HOW it started doesn’t mean you signed up for the current state of affairs. Coming to terms with the fact that the obligation belongs to BOTH of you is necessary before anything can change.
So, you need to ask yourself, what team are you on? #TeamIt’sAllOnMe or #TeamShareTheLoad.