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.**

SEVERAL HOURS LATER…

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.”

Happy 8 Month, Frederick C III!

Sweet boy, I am all sorts of behind on your blog posts but I did remember to make your 8 month board and take pictures; I feel like that counts for something (maybe backdating this entry will help…let’s all pretend it isn’t 11/21)! And while we’re on the subject, this 8 month madness felt familiar so…I looked back and confirmed: we went through the same thing with your sister!

This (last) month, you started picking up food with your two little fingers! Your movements are both clumsy and determined. You sprouted some top teeth too but you don’t like to show them nearly as much as your flash those bottom teeth. All the better to eat with, my dear!

You are on the move now, army crawling like you have somewhere to go. No one would believe you’ve had all these infections and fluid in your ears! It doesn’t slow you down during the day but it does keep you up at night. We’ve tried our best to stay on top of it and although I hate to give you yet another round of antibiotics, I am proud of you for taking your medicine well!

This past month was a whirlwind and although it came and went quickly, you did get to enjoy your buddy’s 1st birthday party and some quick weekend trips with family. You light up rooms wherever you go and make this chaos easier with your easy going demeanor.

Happy 8 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 7 Month, Frederick C III!

I missed your true 7 month mark so what better day to celebrate than on the first official day of Fall? I’m getting ahead of myself but I cannot wait to share my favorite season with you! I have a feeling you will love the crunching leaves the best! And in honor of that, I chose your outfit today! You look like you belong in a baby American Eagle ad. Where’s your football? Why it’s stitched onto your shirt, of course!

This past month you seem to have grown exponentially! At your last checkup, your doctor even warned us that you’d be out of your infant car seat in a matter of weeks. 29 inches long. Your sister was still occupying the next size up so we had to make a flurry of purchases to get everyone sized into their next seats. I’m not complaining. You’ve gotten the hang of this sitting up thing which makes you so much easier to hold!

You. love. food. Honestly, same. Just today your teacher told me that you’re her favorite to feed because you are always excited to eat and you’re so neat and tidy when you do. I agree. I think you realize that months of spitting up was getting old so you’re treating us to the cleanest meals I’ve ever seen out of a babe.

And you’re happy. Easy going. You bop your little legs while you sit in your chair and you look around to take in all that you can see. You belly laugh for your sister (See the bottom left picture? That’s when sissy came into the room) and you snuggle deep into daddy. And momma? Well, you and I have a habit of drawn out bedtimes with books and your heavy weight on my chest. It’s bliss.

Happy 7 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 6 Month, Frederick C III!

I’m behind again but your 6 month celebration fell at the beginning of an amazing time in the UP so it felt right to postpone this post! It was your very first family reunion (held every three years) and it was well worth the wait!

You were the perfect little traveler through car rides and tailgate feedings, pack and play sleeps and pass offs. You changed hands over and over with a smile on your face, and lots of chatter and laughs. And your cousins – oh how they love you! They could watch you all day, holding your hand, announcing your next spit up, and interpreting your baby babbles for me (“He said he wants me not you right now”)!

At reunion, you met new family and you tried a new food: Banana! You LOVE it. You were fine with avocado and peanut butter but bananas are your jam! We can tell you’re getting a hang of the mouth movement required to eat and our fingers are crossed that this is the start of less “happy spitting.”

Over the past month you’ve also been getting so much stronger. You can sit with just a little help of a Boppy behind you and you’re holding yourself upright when held, straining to see your sister and dad. The alligator rolls are getting faster and faster too. We can barely catch you these days! Along with the transition into some 9 month clothing, it’s another sign that time is flying by! We love you, big boy!

Happy 6 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 5 Month, Frederick C III!

This is getting a little ridiculous, little love. Slow down! You shocked your family and your teachers with a new tooth this past month but to look at the pictures here, no one is surprised that one tooth so quickly became two! You are a constant pool of spit up and drool and we are oh-so-glad to have finally purchased respectable burp cloths. Those muslin burp cloths didn’t stand a chance! YUCK.

In addition to a new tooth, you also began to roll over from back to front, completing your cyclone of movement across the floor. You are so eager to move! In a continual state of kicking, wiggling and shimmying in seats, on changing tables, and in arms.

You took your first pontoon ride this month and although you are a smooth sailor in calm water, you’re not about having all that wind whipping at your face! You also celebrated your first annual 4th of July party at our house and slipped smoothly into sleep just before the first firework went off (early for the kids). You slept the whole time!

But our favorite part of this past month has been seeing your love for your sister blossom. She captivates you and you will arch yourself around from any position to see her or hear her. You love catching her eye for a smile and you are sure to reward her wild antics with your contagious belly laughs! It’s the best!

Happy 5 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Super Mom

Do you ever catch yourself parenting terribly? Like, you’re in a mood and you can hear the seething impatience in your voice? The sound seems to fall on deaf ears but you are hyper aware of how it grates your own while simultaneously deflating your child?

No? Yeah… me either.

Hear me out though. If I did, tonight would be one of those times. The evening came down to a battle of wills and my daughter is one tough nut to crack. She gives zero f’s about timelines and bedtimes and people pleasing. Why worry about that when you can spend an hour in the tub going underwater again and again and again as your mom speaks over you in an increasingly agitated voice? (Side note: I am well aware that this could be a useful skill if it was applied to the 8-week swim class we signed up for but, let me assure you, that hour is spent screaming and crying and jumping out the pool to find the splash pad while the teacher sighs and all of other parents pretend this has never happened to them).

I repeat myself. Often. Some days I can go all in and be present and patient and encouraging while I do it and some days it boils my blood. Tonight when I caught the blood rushing through my ears like a speeding train over the steadily increasing sound of my voice echoing the word “pajamas” for the 1,239,721st time, I flipped. I got up, walked out, and shut the door.

She cried. She begged me to come back and told me she was scared but I was so hot I went and did that completely cliche thing that moms do when they’re mad: I tidied up her mess in a room far enough away that I could’t hear her. Because caring for my child via her belongings while ignoring her makes me slightly less terrible, right? Mom guilt, ya’ll.

Dad came to her rescue and tucked her into bed and I… I sat down at this very desk to complete some studying for a certification I’m working on for work. And as I sat, my gaze wandered up to this beautiful cutout of a cartoon mom with a cape and the words “SUPER MOM” scribbled across the top. It’s colored in bright yellows and oranges and blues. It made it’s way home from school during Mother’s Day and man if I didn’t feel convicted about my attitude today, ya know? I am supposed to be Super Mom and I was definitely not super in these last hours.

Shortly after my moment of self reflection, her tiny steps tiptoed into the room and her big eyes looked up at me to tell me about something that was on her mind. She was expecting a chiding but I wrapped my arms around her and I told her I was sorry and I love her and I didn’t like the way I acted tonight. And wouldn’t you know it, her gaze wandered over to that same cutout and she told me:

“I love that A colored that picture for me. That’s Super Girl and every time I look at that, I think of my friend A from school.”

…well I’ll be damned.

Happy 4 Month, Frederick C III!

You little weed! You graduated into size 3 diapers and just started rolling over at the end of this month. You’re starting to sit up when we hold you but you show no signs of slowing down the spit up! Doc calls you a “happy spitter.”

In what started as an attempt to curb the constant soaked shirts, you tried oatmeal cereal and now we’ve added avocado and peanut butter to the list. Avocado is by far your fave – just like sissy!

We went to Traverse City to check in on grandma Shier and you attended your first Festival of the Arts to soak in some tunes. You’ve cashed in on our new Costco membership but thankfully you’re a natural in a shopping cart!

You’ve been sleeping through the night since week 6 and we were sure it was a fluke but you continue to show us every day (and night!) just how cool and easy going you really are.

Happy 4 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 3 Month, Frederick C III!

Three months flew by so fast I almost missed it altogether!

This was a big month of transition, Freddy. You mastered the art of sleeping through the night before you reached your first day at daycare! We have quite the morning checklist these days but you sail through the morning routine with ease. Your teachers already love you!

Your sister keeps an eye on you at school, skipping class to hang with the babies whenever her teacher will let her. I have to pick her up first so she can give me the full report on your day. You go for walks in the stroller, play with friends, and even had your first fire alarm drill! You slept right through it, of course.

You met quite a bit of family at Easter and loved being passed around from aunts to uncles. And your grandparents? Man, they sure do love you! The chaos and commotion doesn’t rattle you as long as it’s not a surprise attack!

You’re the coolest little dude and I almost feel guilty when I tell people about your demeanor but I can’t! We appreciate you, bud!

Happy 3 month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Currently Watching: Workin’ Moms

I watched it a few weeks ago but it has STUCK with me. This show is brilliant. First of all, and this is a bit of an aside, I have concluded that Canada and the UK are better than the US at producing content that matters. Workin’ Moms tackling pumping, Postpartum Depression (PPD), going back to work, the imbalance between men and women in the workplace in a way that is hilarious without patronizing. Bodyguard for giving us a look at PTSD in such a lovable character that you aren’t afraid of or pity. Those are only two examples but they’re crushing it.

Second: The main character Kate. She’s a successful business woman who is respected in her field. She has a normal marriage. She makes sacrifices in career and at home in an attempt to find balance but she’s not comedically failing at everything or winning. She’s one of the boys but also tries too hard and gets awkward sometimes. I love her.

Third: Frankie. She’s Kate’s friend. A realtor with PPD. Having read other reviews, I will agree that the depiction of PPD does wander dangerously into Postpartum Psychosis… but I process with humor and I laughed until I cried when her head was in the pool and she got up acting completely normal when potential buyers wandered into the backyard.

One of my girlfriends stopped by the other day around noon with a care package from our group of friends because they recognize that I’m riding the struggle bus. I considered pretending that I wasn’t home (where else would I be?) but I ended up answering the door with a big ol’ smile in my day-wear robe and pajamas like it was some new outfit I was proud of (thank God for friends who see you). In other words, I can relate to the image of jumping up out of the water to wipe the wet hair out of your eyes and flash that “Everything is fine!” smile. Nothing to see here, ya’ll!

Anyway, at one point in the show, Frankie received treatment for PPD. She stops nursing and the lactation consultant in the moms group warns her that weaning causes hormone changes that can lead to PPD. Frankie looks at her and says something like, “No, I already had that. It’s like chicken pox so I can’t get it again.”

Umm, hi.

Remember when I said I didn’t think I had PPD this time around? Well. Thank you, Workin’ Moms for teaching me that weaning causes hormone changes that can change that and also that PPD is not like chicken pox.

Do I get a prize? Because I am acing hormonal imbalance: 2/2!

More on that later…

Not Quite a Midlife Crisis

It’s not often that I write on consecutive days but, as it turns out, yesterday proved to be a very significant day in my life:

The start of my 2/5 life crisis.

I’m using 2/5 because that’s approximately where I am in life using Wikipedia to find the average lifespan in the US. Yes, I Googled it. I’m not old enough for a midlife crisis and yet I can’t shake this feeling that I officially closed out a part (i.e. a group of chapters) of my life yesterday.

Why? Two words:

Kindergarten. Kickoff.

Well, okay. It’s more than two words. It’s the fact that I non-ironically wore mom jeans yesterday (they really do help contain things) and only stopped myself from wearing penny loafers with them (Hello, comfort!) because I have a bewitched full length mirror in my house.

Yes, I’m serious.

Yesterday I caught the glimpse of someone’s mom in the reflection when I walked by. Explain that to me, huh? Who is she? What does she want?

Burn. the. sage.

I saw her and immediately swapped out my penny loafers for some leopard print flats. (You know, because nothing screams “youth” like a 30-something mom of two wearing animal print [**insert eye-roll here**]). It’s not that I have anything against the mom jean-penny loafer combo in particular. It’s just that combined with the words “Kindergarten” and “Kickoff” they take on a life of their own.

Up until this point in life, I’ve felt that I’ve been writing my story. I grew up. I graduated. I started my career. Even when we got married and had kids, I was still the sentence subject. But now my daughter is starting kindergarten in the Fall and I’m acutely aware that I’m becoming the object of her sentences. A character in her story.

And so it begins. The 2/5 life crisis. I don’t know why no one warned me about this. I don’t even know how I’m supposed to act. Is this when I start shopping at Forever 21 or does that come later? I’ve been listening to Billie Eilish on repeat. I think that might be appropriate but I don’t really know. I’m floundering here.