The Physical and Emotional Load of Motherhood: Are Moms Partially to Blame for Mom-Burnout?
Are you as exhausted as I am from raising kids?
To the working moms: I see you- up at six in the morning after a sleepless night, getting kids ready for the day, dragging your ass to daycare then work. I know you spend your lunch hour running around so you don't have to do it after work (and more importantly, without any kids). I see you clock-watching so you can get to the daycare before they close, because not only do they charge you a shit-ton for being late, but they'll think you're a bad mom. I know that you're exhausted when you get home while you throw some Kraft dinner in front of your kids because you just can't deal anymore. And do they really need that bath or can you just get away with a wet-wipe wash-down?
To the stay at home moms, I see you too: up all night, dragging your ass out of bed to get the kids and your partner organized for day ahead because that's your job, right? You spend all day trying to make up for the fact that you don't contribute to the family's finances by doing everything for everyone. Getting a lunch break to do your errands sounds like a dream, amiright? Just going to the toilet by yourself is a milestone that you can't wait to reach. Maybe you're trying to get a side-hustle going during naptimes so you have something just for you, and that's more work than you imagined it would be.
Mom-Burnout is so real, but it seems like a lot of us are too afraid to talk about it. We couldn't possibly fall behind on curating a mom-life that looks perfect to everyone else, right? Keeping it together while we work 24/7, get no sleep, organize our homes, workout, eat healthy and keep people alive is easy AF when you post it on the 'gram. Even when we post #momfails it takes 20 shots to get a picture that doesn't expose our reality: the crap on the counter, dirty diaper on the coffee table or dishes in the sink.
Why Can't We Stop Pretending?
Is admitting that we’re physically and emotionally burnt out admitting that we don’t love our kids? Absolutely not. Does it mean that we hate our spouses/partners? Probably not. But what it does mean is that many of us are suffering silently because we don’t want to appear as though we don’t have our shit together. And if we start talking about the darker sides of motherhood, we'll expose ourselves for the stressed-out, unhappy women we actually are.
I will tell you right now that I am burntthehellout.
My oldest kid is now 28 years old and my youngest is 15. I don't always love being a mom and I've been super-honest about that. If you want to creep how I really feel about motherhood, click this link:
I DON'T ALWAYS LOVE MOTHERHOOD (AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO EITHER!)
I know so many mamas who are right in the thick of mothering young children. As a mom of teens, I'm happy to report that the physical exhaustion has pretty much passed, but there's a HUGE mental and emotional load.
When you have teenagers, you can’t drop the ball. In my experience, teens need access to their parents more than toddlers. When you have a toddler, it’s pretty simple to assess your kid’s problem and help them fix it. Not so much with teenagers… between an unwillingness to talk (while needing to talk) and preparing yourself for the anger that’s about to be unleashed on you, it can take DAYS to sort out a teenager’s problem.
I don’t think it really matters what stage of mothering you’re in: If you’re a mom, you're taking on most of the physical, mental and emotional load. No matter how amazingly supportive your partner is, it’s just a thing that moms naturally acquire, like menstruation and stretch marks.
But I think we can blame ourselves for some of it. Men are wired differently than women: they don’t “notice” things, they don’t naturally multi-task and they aren’t typically as nurturing as women… so how can we really expect them to innately understand? We can’t.
(Btw- I wrote another post about how men and women are so much different and it was polarizing! I took some heat from women about it. Click the link to read it:
HOW TO HAVE A HAPPIER MARRIAGE WHILE RAISING A FAMILY (HINT: IT'S NOT DATE NIGHTS)
We fought so hard for equality with the feminist movement, and I'm here for it. There are a lot of things that my husband and I are equally capable of doing. We can both work or stay home with the kids. We can both drive our kids to activities, make meals and clean the house. We are capable of doing a lot of the same things, but when it comes to diffusing the emotions of a teenage girl? It's on me. When it comes to talking about sex, drugs and rock and roll with the kids? Me. When they have weird bumps or bruises? Me. When it comes to the emotional load of knowing where all my kids are at every moment of the day? Me.
I don't think it's anyone's fault that I'm the go-to for our four kids. And if you find yourself carrying the bulk of the parenting load, I hope you don't resent your partner. Because most of the time, he's oblivious to how much you actually do for your family because shit just gets done. Unless he's just an asshole, then you should totally resent him.
Since you're already carrying the weight of your family on your shoulders, you may not want another damn thing to do. But you may have to sit him down for a little chat and start a difficult conversation.
Tell Your Partner.
Look- I have a real problem asking for help and if I know you, you're in the same boat. We're worried that we may seem weak or naggy if we ask him to do stuff...and he probably won't do it the right way anyhow. Also, how long will it take him? And isn't it fucking irritating that we have to tell him when he should just know what we need done? Maybe it's just easier for us to do it.
But here’s the thing- most men want to help us out. If we don’t specifically ask for what we want, they won’t just “sense” it. When we freak out they know we’ve had it, but they have no idea why.
People often ask my husband and I how we make our marriage work so well. The truth is that we've both had to use a lot of patience and acceptance to get here. And a lot of conversations about what I need him to do around the house. It hasn't been perfect: a few years ago I told him I need him to help out more with the housework and his solution was to buy me a Roomba. Not perfect at all, and that's where the patience comes in.
But I’m going to continue to work on telling my husband what I want and need, even if it makes me really uncomfortable. I love him and he needs me to speak up, to be patient and persistent.
Do you make these conversations a regular part of your relationship, Mama? Or are you partially to blame for your own mom-burnout?
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!