Written by Jess Raubenheimer-Free
Mothers are, more often than not, the default parent. We're the ones that shoulder the majority of the load when it comes to raising children. We remember when the baby woke up from their last nap, when their vaccinations are due, how old they are (yes, I truly don't think my husband would know this without me telling him), when their birthdays are, what they like (and don't like) to eat, what their friends' names are, what their friends' parents' names are, what their teacher's name is, what day they need to take a shared lunch.
The list is endless, I could spend this entire blog post listing the things mothers need to remember and you'd be reading for hours.
Add to this already staggering mental load remembering when the dog needs to go to the vet for his shots, when your husband has his optometrist appointment, what day your mother-in-law's birthday is, remembering to buy a present for your niece's birthday.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? Add to all this working a full time job. Remembering deadlines, requirements, managing 5 different pieces of work all at once. Working with external stakeholders to make projects succeed. Managing internal stakeholders and their needs.
I've just described a list of things that I have had to remember in the last couple of months, and that is just a small sample. I'm the default parent. No, scratch that, I need a more epic title.
I am the keeper of the keys. The rememberer of the things. The organiser. The boss. And some days, I need a break.
Recently while out for a walk with my husband and 5 month old baby, I suddenly had the thought "I need a break". Cue the mum guilt. How could I possibly want a break from my gorgeous child!? She is my pride and joy, the light of my life. And I want a break from her? Well no, not her. From the mental load and the responsibility.
I work full time while my husband is using the second half of the 22 weeks of parental leave we get here in NZ. Even before lockdown, I worked from home. Which means I'm still here to be the rememberer of the things.
Now don't get me wrong, I love that my husband is spending time with our daughter during this time. He is a wonderful father and does a great job. But even he'll admit, he's shit at remembering stuff. So naturally that falls to me. If I didn't remember things, I'd have an overtired, hungry baby at the end of the day when I finally get a chance to spend time with her.
When I'm not working, I'm mum. Full time. There is no me time. I kissed me time goodbye when I pushed my baby out.
And you know what, I'm totally okay with that. But sometimes I do feel like I need a break from all the remembering. From the constant conversation going on in my head. From the worries that permeate my every waking hour. From the anxiety I feel around my daughter's development (she's doing totally fine btw). From thinking about what's for dinner tonight. Or what I need to add to the grocery list.
I'm learning to be okay with my desire for a break. To not feel guilty or feel like I shouldn't want it. Now I just need to take one.