There's an awful lot of talk these days in my circle of friends and online acquaintances about the toll of emotional labour. Interchangeably called "mental load" "social responsibilities" and a myriad of other terms, it comes down to the mental and emotional energy expended by women, amplified if you happen to be a woman who is also a mom.
There's been quite a few comprehensive articles and even comics written about it lately, so I won't get into the whole deal (I'll send you here for some good reading on it). But I will give you a real-life example of what this looks and feels like for me at times.
There used to be a time when I would look forward to a monotonous task (like painting a wall or running on a treadmill for instance. I would use the time to do one of three things. Completely shut off, immerse myself in music, or do a silent deep dive into a problem (often, but not always, work related).
Lately though, these monotonous tasks are to be feared. This has become the time when my brain kicks into hyperdrive to think about, "all the things on all the lists!"
Today, after cleaning up all the kids toys and washing the gross food from under the highchair I decided to use the rare few minutes of "clear floor time" to vacuum the main floor. This task takes me about...15-20 minutes depending on how many times I need to shoo the baby away from the cord and outlet.
So, while I vacuumed, here's where my brain went. Enjoy the ride.
- "Maybe I should wash the floor since it's freshly vacuumed. But it might be hard with the baby. It's definitely overdue. Maybe I should book a cleaner. But the long weekend is coming up and it will be hard to manage the schedule to get the kids out the door while it's being cleaned. Let's think about this next week."
- "Oh! Here's the fridge calendar. Baby music class is tomorrow at 11:30. Damn, lately he's been having amazing morning naps, waking just before noon. Should I wake him earlier? Maybe I should wake him earlier first thing in the morning then his nap will be over sooner. Let's think about this tonight. It's not like he knows it's music class tomorrow. But I paid for it...hmm."
- "Back to the calendar. It's Thursday. Wine class night! Yay! And I already have chicken for the fam marinating ready for the BBQ. Shit. There's honey in that marinade and babies aren't supposed to have honey until age one. He's almost 10 months. Close enough? I'll feel too guilty. Guess I'll go to the grocery store later to get something else."
- "What time should we start the BBQ anyway? I want to leave early for class so I can study up a bit (tonight's quiz is on Pinot Noir, Gamay & Baco Noir). Dammit, why didn't I prioritize myself a take some study time earlier this week."
- "Niko, stop chewing on the power cord!" Wonder if I should drop the vacuum and just take him outside for a walk.
- Pass by the dishwasher, "oh, that's clean dishes...should empty that. Later. When the baby is sleeping, since one day he's going to lose a finger on a knife in there. Why is this baby so preoccupied with the dishwasher and toilets anyway?"
- "These kitchen stools are on their last legs. Literally. Falling apart. We should get new ones. So pricey though. And I'm on mat leave. Not a great time for big buys. Maybe we should cheap out on them for now. But then we'll be back in the same boat in a year. Whatever, think about this later."
- "That shelf by the TV is super dusty. Should wipe it later."
- "I wonder when the vacuum bag was changed last."
- "I wonder what kind of bag it is. Do we have more? Should I buy some? I'll have to look."
- "Oh hey we can turn the fireplaces on soon! Yay! Cozy nights!"
- "Ugh. Niko is in to everything these days. Maybe we should leave them off this year since I don't know how to baby proof them super well. Hmmm."
- "Plants look thirsty."
- "The lime tree still has flowers. I should pollinate them. It still feels weird. Maybe someone else will come pollinate them for me. Giggle."
- "Hmm that curtain needs to be fixed. Or replaced. One of those."
- "It's so sunny out. I should take Niko out in the stroller. So much guilt."
- "Okay, we WILL go for a walk. because we need groceries. And I need a cucumber because Danika's preschool has a Thanksgiving Day potluck tomorrow and I signed up for the lowest effort item possible."
- "Right, must remember to email preschool about the recent fee increase."
- "Ooo! A missing piece to the water table outside. Crap, the water table is full of water from the rain yesterday. Need to empty that so we can store it for winter."
- "Winter...both kids need boots and Niko also needs a snowsuit. Should get on that soon."
- vacuuming is done
Too tired to match this mom-life experience with a wine today. But since tonight's class is all about Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, let's go with one of those. They're dark and broody, like my brain today.