Motherhood seems like a vacation for non parents. I mean what do you have to do? Raise a child. How card can that be? Right? Well …. WRONG. Motherhood involves an immense workload that can only be seen when you stop doing it. It’s invisible but so damn stressful and exhausting.
It’s those worries that are a constant in your head. Those sticky notes in your handbag so you won’t forget to actually breath and keep yourself alive. It’s those n in your phone reminding you of birthday parties that require presents, wrapping presents, keeping in touch with parents, remembering children’s names (their mum’s and dad’s names so you won’t end up having your address book filled with phone numbers corresponding with this and that’s mum instead of a normal contact number). It’s constantly thinking and planning.
It’s those emergency trips to any store that opens first thing in the morning because you need to have nose spray, couch remedy, Nurofen and Vaporub cause you heard your little one breathing differently last night and you don’t remember when you opened the last bottle so why risk it. It’s those constant worries about not running out of milk or fruits, yogurts and all snacks that your little one likes.
The invisible workload of motherhood is immense. Who changes the summer clothes with the warm ones without even other knowing? Make sure your child has clothes that fit and are appropriate, shows that are not small cause their foot grew overnight, jackets for rain and jackets for extra cold days, socks and underwear that are not too old or look worn off. It’s those days when you wake up so early in the morning that the moon is still up and you want to make sure her toys are differently arranged so she won’t get bored of them, those mornings when you already arrange puzzles and Lego in the living room and are ready for a day filled of pretend play, a day with a smile on your face and enough energy to last for the next twelve hours.
It’s those mornings when I wake up at six am so I can have a coffee alone and squeeze a workout in because I know for sure I won’t do it later on. It’s those mornings when I have to remember to read gas and electric meters and pay bills, when my phone beeps to remind me I have to pay rent and I need to do it right there and then because I don’t want to forget. It’s all the hoovering and tidying up ten times a day. It’s all the appointments you have to keep track of, school visits and applications, preschool celebrations and home works. It’s all that keeping up and making sure your child is not running behind others. It’s keeping up with the new standards and trying to make teaching fun while you wonder why your not even four year old needs to know all letters and how to spell their name and form words.
It’s the feeding three times a day and in between trying not to lose your patience when your child asks for something and refuses it the second she sees it in front of her. If your child suffers with something pile up that stress as well. My one has dermatitis and I need to always check all laundry detergents and cleaners, make sure I am not running out of any of her creams in case she flares up for some unknown reason. She has blepharitis so I need to remember to wipe her eyes twice a day, try all eye related drops/creams/ointments and sprays in the hope of a miracle. It’s the dentist appointments and haircuts, childcare, filed trips or nursery picnics, parents night, age appropriate toys/books to replace the already old ones and all of the things that everybody forgets about.
It’s the constant worry when you check your child’s breath three times a night because she has a cold, it’s picking her up at three am and dozing off on the sofa while your neck is stiff and arms hurt. It’s those wake ups in the middle of the night just to cover her because you know she tends to throw away her blanket and you don’t want her to be cold.
It’s the constant stocking up on toilet paper, soaps, shampoo, shower gels, creams and deodorants, tooth pastes and brushes. It’s replacing old items without even asking. It’s that new set of tea spoons or the new milk cup, the periodical replacement of water bottles and straws, the new tea towels or bath mats, the replanting of house plants because you seen their roots are coming out of the soil.
It’s the window cleaning, doors and mirrors, sinks and toilets and bath tubs. It’s all those little things that you don’t think about but notice when they are not done. The hob and oven, fridge and cupboards.
It’s the emotional workload, the one that consumes us. We anticipate who needs cuddles and kisses, who is not feeling well, who is the one who needs to be left alone to figure things out on their own. We are the ones teaching our children empathy and kindness, we try and channel their anxiety, help them when they are frustrated and teach them how to behave.
It’s the constant planning and scheduling.
I recently read somewhere about a study showing that a mother’s workload equals two full time jobs. It was about stay at home moms and not working moms. I do two days at work and the rest I am home with my daughter so I can definitely say that I have more than a full time job and I’ll be a liar if I’d say it’s easy. I don’t relax when I am at work, chatting with colleagues. No. That would be nice. But nothing is a vacation for a mother. Not even a proper vacation.
Whatever it is you are struggling with know that you are not alone. There is always a mom out there running the shops to buy an outfit for the school play, one that buys glue for a school project due first thing in the morning. There is a mom out there running to buy wellies because she just realised the old ones are small for the little one and it’s raining season (aka ME today). There is always a mom out there struggling to keep it all together, trying to find the energy to answer the million questions a toddler will ask on daily basis.
For every moment you want to scream and shout, know there is another mom out there feeling exactly the same.