Published by MacKenzie on April 11th, 2023
I recently shared in my TheraMama FB group a short story of angst. It went something like this:
I had a fun work event at my office yesterday afternoon. I got home a bit later than I’d expected and my husband was just getting my daughter’s dinner together. Our daughter (6) has ADHD and cannot stay on task for the life of her. So any meal or task is not as easy as one would think. Needless to say, the fact that it’s 6:30PM and she is just eating dinner, still has a homework sheet to do for tomorrow AND has to take a shower all in the next hour is NOT how I wanted to re-enter home life.
As we were dishing out consequences for my daughter’s less than desirable behaviors at the table and the ticking by of the minutes, I made note to my husband (in private) that part of this was on him because he didn’t follow the schedule. This turned into a bit of a disagreement, in which my husband accused ME of being the issue, that things were just fine until I came home and he was only 9 minutes late getting her to bed. Well, pin a rose on your nose!
After further assessment, I concluded that maybe he was right.
Well, at least partially right.
Eh, probably not.
This story started some interesting discussion in my TheraMama group and got my mind spinning.
Monday I checked in with my Psych NP and asked her two questions. One of them being how I know if I need to increase my medication. Silly question, right? I was asking because of the second question being directly related to the stress, overwhelm and anxiety that overcome me when my household isn’t functioning well. And I’m the only person who sees it that way.
We laughed a little and she kindly reminded me that motherhood is a second full-time job. We identified that, like many other working moms, I don’t have much time between work and going home to recoup some of the emotional and physical energy that I just used throughout the day as a Therapist. When I get home and have to be all the things for all the people, it’s a bit more than one person can handle.
Welcome to “The Mother Load."
I'm not sure I like this space at all.
My NP went on to paint the picture of the 50s and 60s with the wife in her heels and apron having cleaned the house all day, cared for the children, ironed the sheets and she greets her husband at the door with a drink and newspaper when he comes home from work. Then he gets to go sit down and relax after having worked all day. And she’s still caring for the children and cooking, etc. While I reject how this era treated women, is this where it all began? Is it a conscious mindset that my husband has? Is this a societal issue rather than a nurtured way of behaving?
Is it truly an unrealistic expectation of women that their husbands share the physical and mental load of caring for the family and home?
How do we get our partners to understand that we are rejecting the position of House Manager Of All The Things? How do we get them to step up without having to ask or remind? How do we begin to unparent our adult child…our husband?
Back to my story. When my husband told me that things were “fine” until I got home and I brought the anxiety with me, I was super pissed. Partly because maybe he was right and partly because I’m super resentful of the things happening in our home causing me this much anxiety that I have to take anxiety medication. I don’t expect him to follow the same schedule as I do or to fold the towels the same way I do. This isn’t a “my way is right, yours is wrong” situation. As long as it gets done, that’s all I want at this point. But I don’t want to be the only one who does it.
I often wonder if it’s ridiculous of me to have expectations like this. I fantasize about the day when my husband looks around the room and sees that something needs to be picked up, or the floors need to be vacuumed and just does it. Without me asking, reminding, or starting the process myself and he swoops in to “help.”
Is it really so far-fetched for me to not want to be the only person who can think ahead about what might be needed for this event or what time we should leave.
Or what we’re having for dinner, even if we are going out to eat.
Or if the dog needs anxiety meds.
Or if our daughter needs to go to the doctor.
Why does all of this fall on me!?
I talked through this with some colleague friends and they had an excellent point. One, I can “accept” that this is just how my husband is and move forward. Or, two, I can encourage him to think about our roles in our home differently.
I choose number two. Obvi.
One colleague friend sent me this comic that is brilliant:
And then I happened to find this guy who is just amazing and really gets what I struggle to put into cohesive sentences. Check him out: https://www.youtube.com/@JimmyonRelationships
The amount of stress this situation is causing in my marriage is ridiculous. I’ve encouraged my husband to watch Jimmy On Relationships and he asked me which ones in particular.
All. Of. Them.
We watched the one about it not being about the dishes and he had the audacity to ask me what else he isn’t doing, if it’s not the dishes.
Figure. It. Out.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love my husband. We have been through so much together and we have a good life. But as life goes on, new stressors enter our lives, it gets to be too much for me to do on my own. I don’t wanna. I reject this idea that I am the Cruise Director or House Manager and have to write things down. No. I’ve got ONE child and two fur babies. That’s all. The other grown up in my home needs to grow up.
Like me, you may be wondering what in the hell was the point of this blog post?
Lol, maybe it was just my way of processing things. Maybe it helps to know I’m not the only woman who is dealing with this issue. My clients have been talking about it more. My friends also struggle with it. Maybe you’re dealing with it as well.
Maybe we can support each other through the muck.
All I know for sure is there is one common denominator.