‘He offered to take it off my list. ‘Oh,’ I said. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t grateful.’: Tired mom talks difficulty of shifting ‘mental load,’ despite husband’s willingness to help

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“My husband and I discuss the mental load regularly.

There are always going to be things that are ‘mine’ because they scream at me so loudly when I’m home much more than he is.

There are also things I don’t keep track of.

My brain is drowning lately. I’m forgetting things. I semi-forgot our anniversary – which is odd.

Our most recent conversation involved the grocery shopping. I didn’t ask – he offered to take that off my list.

‘Oh,’ I said. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t grateful. That sounds awful. His intentions were so pure.

And then I remembered: The task isn’t the mental load at all.

Shifting the mental load is not picking up some groceries.

Because the mental load is remembering what’s not written on the list when I’m there, passing on the list, writing the bloody thing.

The mental load is remembering the soft plastics for recycling, the reusable bags.

The mental load is remembering what the girls like in their lunchbox, what they didn’t eat this week when I unpacked it, and whether we need new lunchboxes.

The mental load is doing the shopping in a way that impacts family time the least: a Friday morning when one is at school so we have weekends for family time.

The mental load is doing the shopping in the presence of at least one child, remembering the shoes that were most successful last time, the time of day that suits her lunch.

The mental load is meal planning – and some of us know how complicated that can be with small ones.

The mental load is knowing where things are in the shop and which aisles to skip altogether because I’ve been so often.

The mental load is knowing the budget and sticking to it, leaving things for next month sometimes – financially, and so there is room in the pantry. And remembering those things next month.

There’s probably several more. But on autopilot, it’s impossible to hand them all over.

So, no. As much as I’m super grateful, I don’t really want you to do the shopping ‘for me,’ childless on your way home from work when it’s getting kind of late, while I stay at home and look after the hangry children. And I text you and say: ‘Darn it, grab take-out too.’

Thanks though.”

mom sits on her couch holding a cup
Courtesy of The Post Natal Project

This story was submitted to Love What Matters  by Zelma of The Postnatal Project. You can follow her journey on  Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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