Mental Load

My husband and I talk about mental load a lot. Mental load refers to the non-tangible tasks needed to run a household. It includes things like remembering what needs to go daycare each week and what needs to come home, knowing what assignments are due, what books need to be returned from the library, and what special themes you need to dress your kid in for school, who is due for their next doctor appointment or dental appointment and which kid sizes need to be changed out for the upcoming season change or growth spurt.

We talk about it as a couple so much because we’re at odds about how the mental load is distributed in our household. My husband feels we have a 50/50 split because he does a ton of the physical household tasks. But you just read that the mental load isn’t physical. You can probably see where this is going…

I feel the split leans a little heavier toward me. Or a lot heavier? (It’s a lot heavier.)

Case in point: I tried to delegate some of my mental load to him this past week regarding a schedule change with my daughter’s afterschool program.

Me: “You need to inform her teacher and the secretary if you change her afterschool schedule.”

Hubs: “Okay. Can you send me the secretary contact?”

Me: “It’s should be in an old e-mail I copied you on.”

Hubs: “I can’t find it.”

Me: “You’ll need to look it up on the school website. That’s what I would do.”

Hubs: “Okay, I’ll take care of it.”

Hubs: **Walks away from the conversation and immediately forgets my transfer of the mental load to him.**


My phone, right after school ends: “RING! RING! RING!”

Me: “Hello?”

Secretary: “Hi, is this Meg? We have your daughter here. She’s saying there was a schedule change?”

Me: “Oh, yes. My husband should’ve contacted you and the teacher.”

Secretary: “We didn’t receive anything. We just want to make sure she’s where she needs to be.”

Me: “I’m really sorry about that and I appreciate you double checking! She’s okay to go ahead with the change.”

Secretary: “Okay, we’ll send her along.”

Me: “Thank you!”

Secretary, knowing I usually e-mail these changes ahead of time: “My pleasure. Do you mind you contacting us next time there’s a schedule change instead of having your husband contact us?”

Me: …

Secretary: …

Me: “Yep. Yes. I can do that.”

Life Hack: Man Cold

The man cold is the phenomenon that occurs when a man catches a mere common cold and reacts as though he is near death. He’s really sorry but he can barely breath right now. His whole body hurts. His teeth hurt. His scalp hurts. It’s like every hair follicle is inflamed or something. He knows it sounds crazy but he just really needs to sleep this off for a while. You’ll be good with the kids, right?

To a passerby, he appears to be mildly congested and would probably benefit from sitting up off the couch long enough to let gravity aid him in blowing his nose. But that passerby would be wrong. This is the worst cold he’s likely every had. It’s been years, at least.

So he sleeps. And he puts his feet up. You have the same cold but you’re not the lesser sex so you handle yourself like an adult. You pride yourself on how much you accomplish with sinus pressure compounding work and life pressure. You aren’t weak from some virus. You, my friend, are strong.

If any of the above resonates with you, I need to tell you about this light bulb moment I had over Thanksgiving break. I HAVE HACKED THE MAN COLD.

This Thanksgiving break, I experienced my first man cold. I got hit with a virus and swore I had strep. It hurt to swallow. I had body chills and body aches. I gargled salt water. I took pain meds. I refused to talk. We ended our Thanksgiving break early so I could go home and crash hard… for two days. For two whole days, I didn’t care how stressed my husband was with managing both children. I rested. I slept a ridiculous amount of time. I put my feet up.

And in two days, I was 95% better.

That’s when my husband’s man cold hit. I felt guilty about my two days off so I jumped in to relieve him of parenting duties and took the night shift with the kids. I pushed myself to make up for lost time and my cold started creeping back. It is now 11 days since my sore throat appeared and and I’m still dealing with it.

You see, what I learned is that the man cold is not a sign of weakness. It’s a conscious decision for rapid recovery. If we would’ve thought it up ourselves, we would’ve called it “self care” but instead, we mock men. We’re over here extending ourselves and our sickness while our men bounce back in one day and we congratulates ourselves over it! We think they must not have been that sick but it’s only because we’re on the other side making ourselves worse!

These men aren’t needlessly helpless. They’re calculated. They’re smart.

It might take me more than one man cold to get the hang of setting aside my guilt for long enough to make a full recovery but I’ve got to tell you that my husband is in for a world of hurt. I am no longer patting my back the next time we both get sick just to watch him recover quickly. We’re about to go halvesies on this!

It’s not his fault that I’ve been a fool about the road to rapid recovery but, as often occurs in marriage, he’s still gonna pay for it.

“Sorry, bud. You had the last man cold. This one’s mine.”

*This post is an exaggerated account of my husband’s colds but a serious account of my epiphany. I’m going to start a petition to end man colds. I will no longer be tricked by this social construct. #mancoldsarejustselfcare #womenneedmancoldstoo

**Also, I’m still rocking head congestion and my self-editing skills are in the gutter. Forgive me if I half-sentenced this whole post. I swear I used to be able to string together enough words to make a complete sentence.

Interview with Freddy Jr.

Freddy Jr. (aka “husband” / aka “dad”) has been unanimously voted the family MVP today. The votes were cast after reviewing the past three weeks of family events, culminating with today’s impromptu nap with the kids. This act allowed Freddy’s wife to nap by herself without interruption and ultimately sealed the vote.

Let’s hear what he has to say about his new title!

M: How does it feel to be the family MVP?

F: It feels pretty good. Did I go above and beyond today? I mean, yeah… I did. But mostly I just answered the call of duty.

M: Having a newborn and an almost 5-year-old who needs a lot of attention is a lot to manage alongside a full-time job and your wife’s changing emotional state. What keeps you going?

F: Umm…this is intense. [Pause]

A few months ago I challenged myself to write out my personal mission statement. It has given me so much guidance and personal accountability in my work life and personal life. Ultimately in this season of life, I’m striving to be a balanced man. At the end of the day, I just want to be a good husband, dad, and employee. And I have a lot of people counting on me.

M: How do you feel this newborn phase is going compared to your first time around?

F: So much more chaotic… Freddy is an absolute gem! He is so calm, content, and happy which makes it very easy to take care of him. However, the pure nature of having two children just makes it feel like everything is in the air at all times.

Freddy III is heard tooting in the background. Freddy Jr. pauses and cracks a smile. The girls start laughing.

So crazy…


At this point, the interview is paused. Freddy III needs to be changed. Freddy Jr. leaves to change him.

When he returns, dinner needs to be cleared, one child needs to start her bedtime routine and the other needs to eat again. His daughter Emma ignores all requests to get ready for bed, instead choosing to practice triple axel jumps in the kitchen.

Soon the whole family is gathered in the baby’s room. Freddy Jr. is teaching Emma how to do cartwheels while his wife feeds the baby.

Daddy and daughter leave to brush their teeth. Although she has managed triple axels and cartwheels without injury, something occurs with Emma on the walk across the hall. Crying can be heard.

The interview resumes 58 minutes later.


M: The timing of those interruptions felt staged. That’s what you meant by everything is in the air, isn’t it?

F: Yes, precisely.

M: If you could choose one thing to change about this phase, what would it be?

F: The time of year… More fresh air would be a “breath of fresh air”. [I] can’t wait for spring!

M: How about your favorite part of this phase?

F: I have an appreciation for how quickly everything else in life can just slow down. Having a newborn in the house has a way of shifting priorities. I no longer have time to sneak out for a quick bonfire, walk the dog, or even keep my driveway perfectly clear of snow. Just the basics.

M: That’s your favorite part about this phase?

F: Huh? What was the question?

M: What is your favorite part about this phase?

F: Hm, I must’ve gone off on a tangent. My favorite part is smelling my son’s head! Duh!

M: Thanks for taking the time today. Wanna watch an ep[isode]?

F: Yes.

An Overnight Work Trip and Two Kids

It’s official. I have kids. Plural.

I don’t exactly know what I expected but so far having two kids looks like my husband doing all the things. (Thank you, cesarean section for rendering me nearly useless as a partner but keeping me undeniably alive not once but twice.)

He manages all the things with minimal complaint and impressive restraint until he is temporarily freed for an overnight work trip and I finally get a taste of parenting two alone.

I’m two weeks postpartum and have been off pain meds long enough to know that I can survive without them. Progress.

I’ve scheduled a lunch date with a girlfriend to distract me from the evening to come. (Okay, she called me and I happily accepted. I love my girlfriends.) She comes over to catch up and meet the newest. She brings açai bowls. They’re delicious.

Before picking up my daughter from daycare, I take my son to run some errands. I park next to the cart corrals each time so I don’t lift him too long. He’s heavy but he sleeps.

I pick up my daughter from school and she shows off her little brother to all her of her friends. I introduce him to the teachers. One of the women helps me carry Emma’s car seat out to the car. My hands feel full (literally and figuratively) but I’m handling it.

Dinner time goes off without a hitch and we even find time to play Candyland and put together a puzzle before bed. I’m basically a super hero.

Both kids are in bed by 8:30 PM which is earlier than my husband and I have been managing together (#blessed). Having not much else to do (combined with a deep loyalty to my husband which prevents me from watching ahead in our Netflix series), I go to bed.

At the 1 AM feeding, I reach for something on the baby’s book cart. The cart is metal, on wheels, with three grated tiers. It’s repurposed from another room in the house; we have too many bookshelves already.

I forget about the open water bottle. Its contents chug-chug-chugging all over the books serve as an unwelcome reminder.

After a few choice words, I conquer my freeze-reflex, put down the baby, and grab some towels. Several books need to be wiped down. The floor is soaking wet. I recognize that this episode would have destroyed me the first time around but I’m feeling even-keeled and postpartum anxiety isn’t consuming my thoughts. I’m grateful.

At the 4 AM feeding, my daughter wakes up crying. She wants to sleep in my bed. I’m tired so I oblige, patting myself on the back for making it this long though I know I’ve set us back. She waits for me while I feed her brother. She talks the whole time.

Morning comes and I try bribery to get her dressed. She dillydallies. I renege on my bribe. More tears are shed but we finally get out the door. I grab the full trash on the way out for a quick stop at the garbage can. It’s icy but I can’t tell because of the snow. I fall.

Inside, I grab some ibuprofen, anticipating incision pain, and my daughter grabs a Band-Aid for me. I feel bad about reneging on my bribe so I issue a new one.

All in all, I’m pretty proud of myself for making it this far without any breakdowns but the house will stay a mess. Even super heroes need a break.

Life has been a little hectic lately.

Life has been a little hectic lately. In the last 7 weeks or so, I have worked in inordinate amount of overtime. Do you still call it overtime when you’re a salaried employee? Not just a few late nights here and there or a few early meetings but multiple days’ worth of time. Leading up to our project launch, I was in the office for a 14 hour Saturday backed up to a 17 hour Sunday and back in by 7:30am on Monday (but only because I slept through the 6:00am scheduled start).

I have never before and hope to never again experience the kind of exhausted, not-enough-eye-drops-in-the-world, mental/physical/emotion strain of that kind of timeline for a project launch. Take it from me, you should never attempt to launch before you’ve completed your mock launch activities.

But my project team and I did it. We’d been preparing for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software implementation. We were already using a previous version of the same software but instead of looking at this change as an upgrade, we pulled out all of the data that had been erroneously entered over the past several years and sifted it out. We remapped table keys. Restructured business processes. Rewrote code and reports and work instructions. And despite a few misses that we’ve worked to clean up over the last two weeks, this project has been considered an overall organizational success!

But can we zoom out a little?

I’m exhausted. Still, almost two weeks later. My husband, who pulled all of the weight of family life during this period, is now fighting off his first illness of Autumn. My house is full of tiny fruit flies from a misplaced can that wasn’t properly recycled during my usual cleaning routine because, well, there was no routine. I worked out this past Saturday (taking it slow) and it nearly killed me. Fast forward half a week and I pulled a muscle playing with my daughter; my body is wrecked. And my beautiful little girl wants “Momma, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Momma. Did you hear me calling you, Mom?”

We’re all a little drained from the chaos. And to be honest, there’s no way we all would’ve made it without these things right here:

  • My Tribe
    • Friends who continue to pour into me when I go dark. Friends who continue to text or Snap without a response. Friends who send flowers to work for encouragement.
  • My Husband
    • Who allowed our roles not just to flip flop, but to completely shift onto him. Who put his career behind mine for a period. Who bit his tongue – a lot. And who continued to encourage me even if he felt like I should be waving the white flag.
  • God
    • For putting those people in my life. For continually tapping me on the shoulder with scripture or songs about being a light or a door for others to experience his goodness. For keeping me from completely morphing into a troll at the workplace.
  • Whole30
    • For categorically denying my desire to stress eat. For minimizing the impact of skipped meals, small meals, or late meals on my system. For giving me the energy that I needed to make it through a 17 hour shift at all, let alone without getting sick immediately following. For giving me something else to commit to when the project felt all consuming. For teaching me ways to cope without food.

So really, this post is a gratitude post for those things that kept me going. At work, we passed the project launch, cleaned up the few misses, and we’ve already started sliding back to normal. But me? I’m changed. I’m exhausted and more experienced and more filled with gratitude. It took overtime and high stress and looming deadlines to remind me that my focus is really on people, and that includes me.

Thank you, tribe and Freddy, and God, and Whole30, for shaping me during this time. For showing me grace. And for teaching me about my priorities and the balance that leads me to my best me.

Without you, I am a lesser me.

The Family Teeter Totter

How do people balance married life with child(ren)?

I’ve been going at it for three years now and I don’t think I’m very good at it. They say practice makes perfect but everyone in my family keeps growing and changing. The second I think I’m on to something, I run into a wall or trip and fall flat on my face.

Do you remember what it feels like to be spontaneous?

I dream of being spontaneous but married life with child(ren) seems to be full of plans. Calculations. Routine. Expectations.

Do you want to go out with friends? Are you leaving your family at home while you’re out? You can’t bring your child but what about your husband? You’re leaving your child at home? Is married spontaneity worth $40+ to you to find a sitter? You want family spontaneity? Have you packed the snacks? Has she had her nap today? What time is bedtime?


I don’t know if it’s healthy to live a social media life different from reality. The best pictures, biggest smiles, softest light. It all seems so perfect.

A lot of people I know are in an unhappy phase of marriage right now or are making plans to end marriage. I’m not naive enough to believe this is true for everyone but I think this social halo around family life makes the unhappy phases seem permanent. They’re stifling and we feel like there are few people to reach out to because everyone else is doing so well.

When we speak up, we feel like naysayers. Negative influences. Outcasts.

I had a friend tell me the other day that her boyfriend was so easy to get a long with and I scoffed. They’d just started dating and I thought back to that time. When it was easier. When we were on our best behavior. Our own bank accounts. Our own schedules. When our time together was chosen and treasured in a way that marriage dulls.

I’m not trying to say that family life is terrible. It’s incredible. But incredible doesn’t mean perfect. Family life is hard. Incredible. Beautiful. But also hard. Fred and I talk about wanting a better marriage a lot and we’re constantly talking about ways to raise a lady. A healthy child. A contributing member of society.

Are you going through a hard phase right now?  

Fred and I are working our way out of one for no reason other than life happens, it happens quickly, and it usually skirts expectations (and so do we as human beings – even if we love each other!). It strikes me that we don’t typically talk about the hard times when we’re in them. We often talk about them when we’re clear on the other side. Happy, so we can be an inspiration to others. How alienating is that happy message when you’re in the trenches?

Can we please start normalizing unhappy?

When I have written about marriage in anything less than a glowing light in the past, I have received feedback that people I know are talking about the well being of my marriage. Not to me but to others. We call that gossip and it isn’t a sign of care. If you care, you’ll ask me directly how we’re doing and I will tell you that Freddy and I are capable of weathering the hard seasons of marriage for the incredible seasons. We know that seasons are a reality of life and that the harder seasons make the good seasons sweeter. We are not divorcing; we don’t even talk about it so please calm down and let me be real about what it takes to be married and raise a family.


A Mile A Day: Day 18

I missed a day.

My husband was traveling and due to a communication error, I planned to walk after he got home at what I thought would be 8:00pm. He got home around 9:30 or so – after the sun had set.

I live in a great neighborhood but we don’t have street lights or sidewalks and my walk takes me away from places where I would seen. I could have easily grabbed a flashlight, my reflective gear, and my dog – but I didn’t. I had a funny feeling and I just listened to it.

I’ve been in the starting stages of a cold or allergies or Whole30 flu so maybe that was my funny feeling… but maybe it wasn’t. And after taking out some misplaced frustration toward Freddy, I’ve decided that it’s okay to miss days when intention tells you that you’ll do something and unforeseen obstacles tell you that you won’t.

That’s living, isn’t it?

But today? I’m getting my mile. And I’m adding to it. My new, perfectly-fitted bike arrived last night and I aim to take it for a spin!

A Mile A Day: Day 13


What. a. day!

In the morning, I took the birthday bicycle to the bike shop to get properly fitted. The surprise gift from my husband was essentially a big gift card; he arranged for me to come try out a few models before completing the deal and although I loved the matte black, I ended up with a steely blue that fits oh-so-right and keeps the pressure off my bogus right knee.

We celebrated the fitting at a delicious Bosnian restaurant. It’s that’s been on my list for a while so the impromptu stop was a very welcome food break. After a splitting some gyro-styled fries and a spicy gyro sandwich, we headed home in time for some relaxation and my daily mile.

That’s when the fun really began.

It was date night. My birthday date night, to be exact. And despite asking Freddy to pick anything for our date night except going out to eat, he told me a few weeks ago that we were going out to eat.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the news. In fact, every single one of my friends heard about it leading up to the night (a reminder that I need to quit running my mouth about minor things). But by the time the evening rolled around, I was just excited for sunshine with my beau!

We started driving and he told me he had pushed back our reservation largely because I love chatting with our babysitter and we talked through the first reservation. He was so cool and collected about it. “No worries. We have plenty of time now. What do you say to grabbing a drink before dinner?”

Sounds great!

We pulled up to a cider mill that I had mentioned earlier in the week. There were some white table cloths at the stand up tables outside, white and turquoise balloons, and a beautifully set long table so I turned to Fred and said, “Are you sure they’re open? It looks like they’re having a private party.”

“It does looks like that. They’re open though.”

“It’s okay,” I told him. “A guy just walked out in a tank top and shorts and he does not looked dressed up. Oh, the open sign is out. We’re good!”

We walked up the steps toward the door and I swear I saw my sister’s reflection through the glass. My sister happens to live over 2 hours away and was currently in a southern state in the US so my mind went racing into how that person looked so much like my sister and then how that person was my sister and why would my sister be here without telling…


My sister, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my parents, my friends from college, my friends from church, Freddy and my friends, my people. They were lined up in front of the bar with party hats and noise makers for me!

I had a quick thought that I might burst into tears and Kim-Kardashian-ugly-cry in front of everyone but the fear of being ridiculed for life was enough to keep me semi-locked up. And if I had gotten to have drinks or dinner surrounded by my people, it would have been enough…but it was so much more!

That beautiful, long table that was filled with place settings? In each napkin was a menu, pre-selected with the most delicious foods. At the top of the menu was written “Happy birthday, Megan!”

I celebrated my 30th with friends and family under the sun, drinking delicious cider and eating delicious food, and being overwhelmed with these people’s love for me and my love for them.


Thank you.

Thank you to my wonderfully planned husband who surpassed all expectations and loved on me in such a tangible way this week and weekend. Thank you to family who traveled from opposite ends of the state or even from several states away just to spend the evening with me. Thank you to my dear friends who mingled and meshed over donuts and prosciutto, apples and blue cheese, bratwurst and hot mustard, spring hash, and banana cream pie. And thank you to those of you who wished you could have been there in more than spirit. You are so deeply loved.

Resolute in 2016

The New Year always holds promise for me. Isn’t there something wonderful about reaching the end of a calendar and opening a brand new page, new agenda, new possibilities?

I’ve made a few resolutions this year, as I do most years. Drinking more H20 didn’t make the list this time but Meatless Mondays did. As did replacing more household items. They’re little resolutions but they have a big family impact. Because whether he likes it or not, my resolutions are very much Fred’s resolutions.

Which got me thinking, “Does Fred have any resolutions?”

So I asked him.

His answer surprised me; he said this:

Love my wife better.


What about our marriages?

Can I be honest?

I mean completely, nakedly honest?

I think we need to talk about something. Something that has fallen between the cracks as the march against Mommy Wars and the parade of BuzzFeed truths has taken over our lives as new moms.

I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground lately, searching for rumblings that this heaviness on my heart is a common thread among us, even if it’s just a few. It’s hard to pick out, but I think it’s there – that quiet hum of fearful acknowledgement.

Can we talk about our marriages?

When I pictured becoming a parent, I pictured long nights. Stressful cries. Loads of laundry and dirty diapers. An isolation of sorts, or was it superiority, over becoming “mom” – the one who nourishes in a way that no one else can. I pictured myself in a role that only I could fill, but in the same way, I also pictured my husband right by my side. I pictured us as this daring duo of exhaustion and love. Tired smiles shared across the room. My hands-on hubby and me.

Us against the world.

But “us against the world” easily becomes “us against each other.” It happens when it’s not my turn to get up in the night and there’s no way I’m doing any favors. Or when he expected that I’d do X while he was doing Y. Or when I realize that I’m not even sure how to press the reset button anymore… because it used to be at that corner table at that delicious restaurant over a bottle of red and a few hours of shared plates and laughs but it moved… and I’m not sure exactly where it is right now but I know that it’s not there because hours away from home and a fat bill at the end of the night just doesn’t sound right.

I’ve started reaching out over the past few weeks. Tentatively searching for some sort of sanctuary among friends. For accountability, having spoken a fear out loud and been challenged to conquer it.

I worry about my marriage.

I worry that we’re losing sight of our friendship as we focus so singularly on our beautiful daughter. We made an honest vow that we would not put her above our relationship. God first. Spouse second. Children third. It was honest not because we’ve honored it but because we meant it with such earnest belief that it could be done.

I’ve read article after article about the things they should’ve warned me about before having a baby but feel as though I’m suddenly met with this echoing abyss when I ask about our marriages. Are our marriages okay? Will we begin to perform this double juggling act by muscle memory? And how do I push reset when our favorite places don’t hold the same appeal?

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s one of those off-days in marriage that can be fixed with an overpriced bottle of wine. I don’t have one definitive answer except to say that I’ve been praying for my marriage. And so has Freddy. And we’ve been asking our small groups to do the same. And some of our friends. Because I think our marriages are worth it. They’re worth giving over to God and asking that he would make his presence known in our lives and use this period of new parenthood to strengthen the bond that he himself has blessed.

New moms, I pray that God would use our marriages as a testimony of faith. Use our marriages to bless others. And I hope that even if you haven’t experienced any stress in your marriage – in that husband and wife portion of your life – I hope that you can join me in my prayer or say one for me and mine.

I’d love to do the same for you.