I walk into the house after eight hours of internship. I brush sweaty, freckled child cheeks with a quick kiss hello and I’m off. I begin emptying back packs and carrying soggy, musty towels to the washing machine to begin a load—how can they smell so bad after only one use? I empty lunch bags, mine included, and load the dishwasher with seemingly endless containers sticky with residue. I make sure to get the AM dishes in there too, you know, the ones that were left haphazardly in the sink from the chaos that is morning. If I leave them any longer, the dried food glued to their sides might become permanently affixed. With empty lunch containers in front of me, I immediately begin to repack them for tomorrow. Some random child calls from across the room; she doesn’t want that sandwich, she wants a different one—the kids have barely looked up from their post-camp television haze to acknowledge my presence, yet they sense that I am doing lunch wrong and promptly put a stop to it. I usher one child into the bath and as I turn on the water I’m acutely aware of the fact that I haven’t gone to the bathroom since lunch. I try to go but absentmindedly sit down on naked child who has beaten me to it and now the opportunity has passed. I head across the hall and gather the requisite uniforms for campers attending two different camps. I’m lucky, it’s picture day at both of their camps so I only have to remember this fact once—two different picture days and it’s a guarantee that at least one of them would not be wearing the required camp t-shirt. A blood-curdling scream comes from the tub; I think maybe she’s gotten shampoo in her eye. I run, dropping the clothes on floor of the hallway. When I get there, I realize it was just her rallying cry. She’s very proud that she has shampooed, conditioned, and gotten out of the tub to dry off all by herself. Upon closer inspection I realize she actually hasn’t, that half of her head is still covered in shampoo—I let it slide. I continue on my way, there are still so many things to do…
Run to the supermarket, we’re out of… everything.
Drop off the dry cleaning.
Pack Man’s lunch.
Pack Lady’s lunch.
Pack my own lunch.
Get to class on time.
Is it early drop off for camp today?
Don’t forget to call the auto body shop to order new tires before you have a massive blowout on the highway.
Pack camp bags—does she swim twice tomorrow? Better toss in two suits just in case…
Wait, go back upstairs, you forgot it’s stuffed animal day and you need to pack Carrotty Bun Buns for her.
Get your own school assignment finished, it’s due soon.
Sign the kids up for Fall dance classes.
What day of the week is it?
“MOMMMMMMM, can I have some water?”
Get back on that school assignment, it’s still due soon.
Sunblock the kids.
Prepare to run group tomorrow at my internship.
Speaking of internship, am I doing a decent job, because it kind of feels like I suck at this.
When was the last time I walked the dog? Was it today?
Return library books.
Pick up ant traps, it’s getting ridiculous in here.
Go back to the hardware store, you forgot the Draino.
When was the last time I ate a meal sitting down?
“MOMMMMMM, there’s no more toilet paper!”
Is the air conditioning working? Better call for an appointment before the next heat wave.
“Man, eat your dinner!”
Double check that Lady’s play date is still on—am I dropping her off or is she getting picked up?
Shit- unpack Lady’s camp bag so you can put labels on all her clothes.
Go to internship.
“MOMMMMMMMM, can you help me tie my shoes?”
Do it all.
Do it all with perfectly flawless skin.
Do it all without cellulite, while looking hot in those jeans.
Do it with manicured fingernails.
With a stylish outfit on.
While getting a nutritious dinner on the table every night by 6:30.
With a smile on your face, a skip in your step, and without missing a beat.
What any mother can tell you is that this is just a fraction of what runs through our minds daily. It’s called The Motherload. It’s intense and it’s a bitch. It’s the never-ending mental list that streams on a loop in our heads, always. It’s our theme song- our anthem- the beat to which we march. It’s with us in the shower, at the dinner table, at work, on line at the CVS, when we are driving, even when we are sleeping…or not sleeping because The Motherload is keeping us awake. It’s a million tiny balls all up in the air at once; if one falls, they all fall, raining down heavily upon us leaving us battered and bruised.
I have been crushed by The Motherload lately. With the recent loss of our babysitter coinciding with the start of my graduate internship and summer school—a time when my satanic professors feel It’s important to cram 15 weeks of work into just six short weeks. And as much as it pains me to say this, I have brought part of it on myself. I told my husband that I didn’t need a new babysitter until the Fall, that I would be just fine for the summer with work, school, and the kids all by myself.
What the fuck was I thinking?
I was thinking I could handle it.
No, I was thinking I should handle it.
There is a significant difference.
As mothers today, we are made to feel we should do it all. We can have that fantastic career, thriving social life, happy, seamlessly operating home, and lovely, well-raised, children along with our sanity completely intact, all tied up neatly with a bright red ribbon. Somewhere, some little voice in a remotely accessed corner of my brain screamed, “You don’t need any help, you should be able to do it all!!!”
This, my friends, was where I was wrong, because I can’t do it all on my own, not without being leveled by The Motherload.
Mothers unconsciously carry so much of the load and I fear it’s because we feel we have no other choice. However, I’m beginning to see that the harder I work, the less I should be doing. I need to unload, to give up on the idea that it all must get done, done well, and done by me.