parent opinion

'I do a $120,000 job for completely free, and it's something a lot of mothers do.'

If you could twist the top off my skull and peer into my brain at any given moment (I’m so sorry, that’s really gross imagery), here’s what you would be assaulted with:

“Alfie’s and Teddy’s homework folders due back on Monday, Daisy’s on Friday; make sure reading gets done (NB: the reading NEVER gets done); Alfie has library Wednesday and Teddy Friday, or is it Teddy Wednesday and Alfie Friday? Either way at least one library bag or book is missing so I need to go to the shops and replace it.

While I’m there, the kids all need new jocks and socks; what are their shoe sizes again? Their school uniforms are getting too small too, so I’ll need to get to the uniform shop in that one half hour slot it is open every week during which I’m invariably working. I need to book the dog in for grooming, and then administer flea, tick, and worm treatment for both the dog and cat.

Shit, when was the last time I wormed the kids? Better go to the chemist too. While I’m there, I’ll get my prescription done. It’s my last repeat, so I’d better find time to see the doctor and get a new one. Oh, there are a couple of kids’ birthday parties this weekend too; must get gifts and cards and figure out where they are and which lucky bastard is stuck taking the kids. It’s bin night tonight; remember to throw out that BBQ chicken carcass that’s been in the fridge all week before we get salmonella poisoning.

Also, figure out what that weird smell in the lounge room is. How long has it been since I changed the sheets on the kids’ beds? Better do that. When was that phone bill due? Shit. And fill out those three sets of permission slips and email them back, and pay for those excursions.”

What’s the sexiest thing in the world? Sharing the mental load, of course. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

My husband once asked me why I’m always so angry, and this pretty much sums it up. If I’m honest, that breathless paragraph accounts for about one minute of my brain’s activity each day, and every other minute is just as relentless and probably (definitely) the reason I need that prescription medication. Parenting in general can be a thankless task, and unfortunately it’s often (not always, I know – not all men) the mothers who bear the brunt of the minutiae of daily family life.

Most people, whether they’re the secondary parent or not a parent at all think they’ve got a pretty good grasp on what parents do to keep a household and family running smoothly. A few loads of laundry, meals, ferrying to and from school and sports practice and you’re sweet.

Like most things though, you don’t know what you don’t know, and people don’t know what mums do until the mums stop doing it, and even then it would be difficult to list all of the things that have caused Mum to have a mini – or major – nervous breakdown.

Now I’m going to stop right here and point out for the sake of fairness that I am one of the “lucky” ones (I put lucky in quotations because as women, we shouldn’t have to feel lucky that our partners and co-parents are pulling their weight). My husband does a lot around the house – he cooks dinner, bathes the kids, gets them ready for bed, does laundry, and makes school lunches. Generally, he does his best to make my life easier.

But – and there’s a big ‘but’ – I find that while someone else is carrying out the actual tasks, the planning and management is the load carried by my mind. In a business setting, the person who is held accountable for the success, planning, execution, and closure of a project is known as a project manager, and this is a skilled profession. A quick search of project management jobs tells me that the average wage is around the $120k per year mark. If holding my family and household together is the project, then I’m the project manager and I’m doing it for nothing.

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GANG.

A post shared by Kelly James (@kelly.elizabeth.james) on

How often, as women, do we hear, “just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it”? It seems like the simplest solution for frustrated mums! Just tell your husband what you need him to do and voila! No more stress.

However, this ignores a very basic biological fact: Men have the exact same number of eyes and brains as women, and are more than capable of seeing and comprehending what needs to be done without being asked.

While asking doesn’t seem like a big deal, carrying the weight of the family’s needs is a huge responsibility – dare I say, burden – and that’s why it’s the managers in workplaces getting paid the big bucks, even as the employees do the brunt of the labour.

So yes, mums are angry. They’re bitter, and they’re burnt out because they’re working a skilled job and not only getting nothing in return, but no one even knows what they do.

Is it any wonder “burnout” is the buzz word du jour?

Do you agree that mums, and women, process more of the mental load than their male counterparts? Tell us in a comment below.

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