Are you on the brink of the mother 'load'?
I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, or since I turned 40, but something happened last year where this weird burning rage started in the pit of my stomach. Not like an “ARGH” out-loud-uncontrollable-rage, but sort of a ‘what is THIS?” kind of fury.
I realised that the rage, the anger, the fury was a lot to do with ALL the STUFF. All the stuff that we, as mums, juggle, balance, spin in order to manage and cope with family life. My husband is far from shit, but he definitely doesn’t spin the same stuff as I do. His head is not filled with a running commentary of lists and needs and anticipated questions for the whole family. Nor is it assessing risks, needs, desires from and for little people who can’t do it themselves. Not in the same way, anyway.
Mostly though, I realised that aside from when we seek advice about this darn juggle, we aren’t talking about how bloody UNFAIR it is, and maybe trying to find a solution to it. I’m not just talking about the perpetual internal lists either, I’m talking about the complete disparity that comes when we have kids and no-one tells us about.
That’s bigger stuff than the imbalance that lives in our homes. It’s the childcare struggle - working to pay someone to look after our kids. It’s maternity discrimination, its the glass ceiling, it’s the expectation that we’ll take the hit on our careers to have a family. It’s explaining to your employer again that yes, you do need to pick up your poorly child early from the childminder, or negotiating flexible working patterns so that we can drop them off at school in the morning. It’s the reality of condensing a five day week into a three day week to get some family/work/ life balance.
It’s single parenting, raising kids alone with meagre support from an ex. It’s the lack of network for a break to order your thoughts, or the overwhelming burn of having the whole responsibility raising kids solo.
And if your child is neurodivergent, the ‘load’ of seeking referrals, diagnosis and support can feel overwhelming against a system stacked and overloaded. How do you navigate a system you have no experience of - and yet time and again, it falls to mothers to fight for their children to have the support they desperately need.
From babyhood, the maternal bond means that we don’t shy away from our responsibility as mothers, but finding a sense of self against a backdrop of being needed 24/7 can be futile. In a society that thinks ‘self care’ for mums is a ‘hot warm bath’ is it any wonder that we are burnt out and on the brink of succumbing to the overwhelm of the mother load?