If there is anything that motherhood teaches you, it’s that the second you become a mother, you also receive the mental load. Moms know what I’m talking about. It is the endless list that runs inside your mind like the credits of a movie. The things to add to the grocery list, what you’re going to make for dinner in the upcoming week, how many loads of laundry there are left to do. Mothers are constantly managing this load, usually without any complaints, and it is exhausting. Now throw a global pandemic into the mix. It is a recipe for a mental health crisis if you ask me.
Even with supportive husbands and fathers, it seems in every relationship, the mental load falls squarely on the mother’s shoulders. Thoughts like, who needs to go to the doctor and when? Do we need more ketchup? Did I already buy ketchup and forget where I put it? Does anyone even need ketchup in the first place? And now it’s lots of; are we in a yellow zone or orange zone yet? Is the red zone happening now? Is the baby’s sneeze the ‘rona finally finding itself on our doorstep? Does my head hurt because I’m infected with covid or is it because I sleep 2 hours at a time? WILL THINGS EVER BE NORMAL AGAIN?
Managing the mental load is hard and asking for help is important. I’m guilty of never asking for help because I am a stubborn ass mule. I notice things that need to be done and just start doing them. Since I’m home all the time thanks to the health crisis we all find ourselves in, most of that time is spent thinking of things that have to be done. Worrying if people are going to start hoarding baby wipes again. Ordering everything for Christmas weeks in advance because it’s only a matter of time until it will be prohibited from entering a store. Hiding all of those packages so the magic of Christmas isn’t ruined for Charlotte. Trying to make the least normal time in our lives seem normal. Managing remote learning and taking care of a baby and working myself. The one or two days that Charlotte went to school were a life saver for my mind. Now that’s gone again, and in its place are her constant heartbreaking questions of when she will get to go again. She’s worried that Santa won’t be able to come because of the coronavirus. She’s planning a birthday party in her head that probably will not even be allowed to happen. So now I worry about her mental state on top of everything. Sometimes I think I’d like to scream as loud as I can for as long as I can just to feel something other than stress and dread. I know my friends and family feel the same. All of my mom group chats follow the same pattern. One of us has a meltdown per day, we talk each other through the meltdown and then repeat the cycle. We send memes to distract ourselves from what our lives have become. Thank God we have each other.
But, because we are moms, we carry on. We decorate for the holidays, we make plans to bake cookies and drink hot cocoa while listening to Christmas music. I told Charlotte Santa Claus can never get sick because he is made of magic, and he will park his sleigh on our pool cover as his landing space to deliver presents to our block. She decorated a tiny hot pink tree in her room that makes her smile every day. She writes her Christmas list over and over and over again, and I hope when all of this is over and she is older she remembers only the good parts of this mess. That’s the mental load too – worrying about shit that hasn’t even happened yet. I try to give myself some grace, to allow myself to ask for help and realize not everything has to be done the way I would do it. I’m a work in progress. But to all the moms carrying their own mental load, I see you. I’m always here to listen, to send a meme, to cry or scream with you. I also highly recommend a glass of red wine in the evenings, or even a blood mary at breakfast. Parenting is hard enough, but parenting in a pandemic is a whole other ballgame, so we do what we have to do to make it through the days. If there was ever a time to get rid of any judgment of others, it is now. Moms are in this together and everyone has their own version of hard. The good thing is, there is a meme for every situation.
2020, year of the mental load meltdown and the meme.