The weight

On the weekend I opened my pantry and could no longer stand the sight of the shitfight that was in front of me. You know the drill: corner pantry that you can’t see into properly, a pandemic and an over supply of tinned tomatoes, things pushed in front of what is behind, wedged until the whole thing is no longer useable. I bought the organiser thingys from The Reject shop at the start of the pandemic in March and yet, here I was in September unable to even contemplate starting the task because: I DON’T WANNA.

It’s a shit job that requires sorting, cleaning, throwing out, removing the stuff you don’t want, each tin from 2010 a reminder that you should be on top of these things, how did I let this get so out of hand, why is this MY job and responsibility and I DON’T WANNA.

I posted a photo of all of the shite on my bench and kitchen and got so many messages from other women saying YES! THIS! These are my thoughts. That is my shit. It’s so nice to feel not alone in our middle age rage isn’t it? I mean really, who can trust someone with a tidy pantry and storage systems? Instagram has a lot to answer for.

That shitfight of a pantry was just a physical example of my mind and was actually a very useful tool to show my husband how I felt. I do believe many of you too screen shot it and sent it to your husbands too. It’s not that they are useless – I have a wonderful, supporting loving and hands on partner and yet still? I am exhausted from the mental load that sits with me every single day.

I have spoken about this stuff before in this post and this post and this one. And even this one. There are podcasts and long form essays written about it every week – one quick google of “mental load women” will bring up a myriad of opinions on the matter. But after that quick instagram story I was reminded just how big of a thing this is for so many of us every single day. Maybe even moreso now with the pandemic and home schooling for many of you as you have had to take on the role of educating as well as your work not to mention all the other stuff that comes with being a Mum in 2020.

You see, for me, on any given day here are some of the things that cross my mind:

  • Worrying about the Kinder in school, why I haven’t pushed her as much as the other two, should I have held her back, will she be behind
  • The middle kid because I don’t worry enough about her and maybe I should be
  • The teen any everything that comes with that
  • The beauty myth and am I leading the way with a healthy outlook on weight and body image and beauty for my three daughters
  • My own health and inability to stop eating carbs and why I don’t consistently exercise
  • My hormones and peri-menopausal land I am heading into
  • My endless work worries and budgets and finances and have I ordered too much, will I sell stuff for Christmas will it be too busy and I won’t be able to keep up with it worry about my BAS and tax
  • My blogging work and if it will ever be back and will I ever get a paid job again
  • My relationship with Rob
  • Am I having enough sex?
  • Will he leave me for some new young thing one day because I am pretty revolting
  • His grief and mental well-being
  • The kids grief and mental well-being
  • My parents and their health
  • Budgets and finances for school fees/home
  • Planning and buying family gifts, sending them off, reminding everyone of important dates
  • School notes and planning
  • Medical appointments: making them
  • Getting the dog groomed and sorted
  • What the fuck we will eat for dinner
  • The endless washing piles and baskets
  • The cupboards that need cleaning and sorting
  • The garden, weeds and lawns that need tidying
  • Getting stuff around the house fixed
  • Checking in on friends and family to see they are OK
  • Trying to find time for me to read, learn, be creative, be me

It’s A LOT YOU guys. And as I said, this is merely the tip of an iceberg of worries and concern. There is the physical demands of the work: the washing and the cleaning and the cooking of the food, the supermarket shopping and actual hard labour of it all and then the mental weight that comes with all that.

I’m not looking for a medal or a parade in my honour for all that I do. In fact, I often have a perplexed partner who will want to do more and says that I don’t let him and do I continue to work on ways to lighten the load from every member of my house, and while that works for a little while, sometimes I then have the job of managing THEM to ease me…is it a wonder that it might be easier for me to just unpack that dishwasher with seething resentment than asking for 67th time for help?

I think the hardest thing about all this “stuff” that sits with us as women every single day is the invisibility of it all. No one sees this, no one thanks us, no one tells you that this is even a thing until you are in the thick of it and think “OH MY GOD IS THIS WHAT IT COMES DOWN TOO” and “NO WONDER MY MUM WAS SO ANGRY ALL THE TIME”. It’s our lot in life as women. Like bleeding once a month. Like waking to the baby as your partner sleeps through it. We just suck it up and get on with it because what else is there to do.

Somedays I am ok with that. And other days, when I am cleaning out the pantry and spill caster sugar on the floor from 2013, I am not. Some days when my husband asks me about sending his niece’s birthday present (that I reminded him of because I write it in the diary at the start of the year with a reminder a week BEFORE that that we will need to send a present in the first place) I might snap. And it’s not because of that one thing specifically, it’s because of the 820 before that you didn’t even think of, or see, or know about because it sits ON me. The weight and the invisibility of it all wears you down. And when they think “woooooahhh Nelly! You ok? Got your period?!” that you might walk out the door and never come back again because WHY THE FUCK IS EVERYTHING MY PROBLEM ALL THE TIME.

But you don’t.
You might go and have a little cry.
You might go onto social media for some support from strangers.
You might text your mates a stupid meme.
You might catch your breath before getting back on with it.

Because you love everyone and you are just tired and maybe need a slice of bread with extra Lurpak and a coffee and of course you’ll do it because you love them.

Here, let me.

Is it any wonder men find new younger, improved and perkier versions that don’t have the weight of 10 years out of date caster sugar and who want to have sex with them? Don’t they realise that sometimes we look at ourselves, hear ourselves and think with loathing that I never thought this is who I would be either? Bet those young ladies haven’t caught vomit in their bare hands to save the carpet.

Women, YOU. There, reading this. I see you. I see all those things that you weigh on you every day. I see the beauty of your stretch marks, your greying hair, your hairy legs. Your humour, your unconditional LOVE for your family and partner and your endless patience. I feel your rage, your frustrations and your anxieties and worries. I salute you and your empty washing basket. I see your mopped floor and I say WELL DONE. We are doing it, you are doing a good job. We’ve got this. And to all the women before us, my Mum, my grandmothers. Thank you. And for my daughters, well, I hope somehow it will be easier for you. Somehow things will be a little different, I mean we have come some way, so maybe there will be hope for you too. I can’t wait for the phone calls in 2040 saying “I know darling, it’s bullshit.” I’ll come and fold your washing for you.

How are you feeling today?
Are you overwhelmed by all this shit too?
How’s the state of your pantry?
Are you ok?

Comments

  1. Belle Bizjak says

    Thank you, I needed this today

  2. I cried reading this.it is my life.Thank you for your honesty and sharing.i want you to write a book start a movement.
    Anything to ease the invisible fog that surrounds and at times smothers us.

  3. Oh Beth! Man! I’m just past the start line of being a Mum (my hefty 5mo baby is breastfeeding as I type) and I FEEL this. I really thought I was an enlightened woman and knew all about the mental load and I just didn’t (typical disclaimer that my husband is a fab human and is slightly oblivious rather than lazy).

    We locked our guy’s daycare place in last week and guess who is already getting all the emails? Also, I guess I am the default purée maker and fashion consultant for a wiggle kettlebell. Didn’t factor that in… Far out! Good thing I only have another 20+ years of this ahead.

    • Sorry hun, it doesn’t go away when they grow up. They might make less mess in your environs but their needs and problems (and joys and hopes) will always be yours!

  4. My husband rang my at work yesterday afternoon because it was his turn to cook dinner. To ask me what to cook and what ingredients he should use. I was FILLED with rage! Am I the only adult in the house (I am not – there are 4)?! Am I the only person who can google? Just figure this shit out yourself for once! Don’t talk to me about it! Don’t make it my problem too! Just do it! (I don’t think that’s what Nike meant, but I think it’s a better slogan). So yes, Beth, you are not alone! So tired of it.

    • Yep. My husband very rarely cooks. I mentioned last night that he could literally throw stuff in the slowcooker and come back 10 hours later. Of course, it’s now up to me to find a recipe and buy the ingredients. May as well do it myself. The rage is real. And I hate that. I hate being angry ALL THE TIME. And hiding that anger. And I don’t even have kids.

    • You husband cooks? I need to upgrade.

  5. Thankyou Beth, just ThankYOU!
    You’re not alone either 😊
    Xxxx

  6. Wow, I’m teary too even though I’m through the little kids / school kids/ teen kids. My kids are happily partnered, we have 2 gorgeous grand babies and we’re recent empty nesters and still very happy together. The mental load doesn’t diminish it just switches to other things. Older parents, retirement, kids, yes still kids.

  7. All of this, and the comments too. It’s a lot, it’s relentless, it’s just….I dunno
    I too am almost an empty nester, while the load has shifted it hasn’t really lessened. Just new shit has moved in to fill those tiny pockets of space.
    Cheers Kate

  8. YES!!! So much yes! All this.🙌🏻
    My husband says to let him do more- but then I have the mental load of reminding him, checking his done it etc. Just easier to do it myself.

  9. Oh Beth I sit hear and weep with familiarity at all you have just written. It’s real. It’s shit. It’s mumhood and we are all in the trenches.
    Thank you so much for every single sentence you type. You are balm for my exhausted soul. Onwards. X

  10. As I sit underneath a feeding baby, with a toddler jumping on the bed next to me, a pile of washing to put away, another pile of washing to put in the machine and as I catch a whiff of my underarm and remember I really need to shower soon even though I have so much else to do but it’s already 10am, how am I still in my pyjamas. . . Ahhhhhh. I needed this today thank you Beth.

  11. Well done Beth for being so real and expressing it all so eloquently. It’s exactly how we all feel and as a women who worked full time and has adult children we have the addition of worrying about all our grandchildren and how their parents ( our children) are coping with it all, reminding myself not to throw that judgemental look but actually support them in whatever capacity I can. Also reminding myself how grateful I am for everything I have been given. I love this saying I read somewhere ‘ Each of us is the love of a thousand generations.’ I can imagine all the sacrifices made along the way for each of us to just exist. Anyway keep focused and above all love with all your heart.

  12. Ps- now I understand my pantry was always a shit fight.

  13. This resonated with me as it did the others! Thank god for you putting the words to all of our story so that we can understand why we don’t feel like we are winning. Why it feels like such a slog most of the time. Thank you, I needed to know that its not just me and that we are all just doing our best, all the time, even with out of date sugar and hairy legs. xo

  14. Thanks Beth, this is me too right now, you manage to capture it all so perfectly. And my pantry is in desperate need of attention. x

  15. Tamara Crowe says

    Thank-you Beth 💛

  16. Oh Beth. It’s like you have seen the contents of my mind. Thank you for putting it into words xx

  17. OMG this is everything! thank you for saying it in such a lovely way and without one swear word well done! To know we are all not alone, that it’s not just me who goes WTAF pretty much everyday. Wouldn’t have it any other way though and damn lucky kids are cute that’s all I can say! xxx

  18. Thanks this is awesome and so eloquent. I can’t face my pantry and keep hoping someone else will deal with it. It’s my day off and so far I have done 3 loads of washing, dropped son to school, walked dog, made biscuits, checked business and applied fake tan because I noticed my legs were the same colour as my blush shoes. And its not yet lunch time. Hang in there. This is our lot xx

  19. Thank you thank you thank you – just what I needed today!

  20. Your posts are a bright spot in the day. Thank you.

  21. Those f***ing corner pantries … who the hell ever thought they were a good idea. Some seriously good writing there sister .. yes to it all

  22. Thank you for this Beth.
    We see you too xxx

  23. Beth, I love coming to your blog and reading this post today… man I get it. And being a mum to three daughters as well, I have the same thoughts. Bless you lovely for getting the words out. So many of us can relate. xx

  24. Thank you for seeing us 🤯 the inner rage and resentment is especially strong when you’re a long time (15 years in…) step mum without your own bio kid.

    It is the epitome of “thankless”

    I have all the responsibilities and none of the authority and get none of the credit.

    I feel better now after dumping all of that 😂

  25. I took a screen shot Beth. I was like Yes!! THIS is what I’ve been trying to explain. I was going to send it to my husband but then I realized I was too tired for a discussion on what I don’t ask him to do more. It’s because I have to do the thinking before the asking!!! That’s the point!!! So I went on with folding the laundry. You’re brilliant Beth. Thanks for adding blogging and instagramming onto your list of things to worry about because it really makes a different team people even if they’re half a World a way x

  26. Beth did you write this about me? I swear every word you have written I resonate with. I turned 42 on Monday and got my first ever fucking hemorrhoid. Hello mid life crisis, and don’t even get me started about the cream that fell out of the fridge door last night because some child of mine didn’t put the lid on it properly. I had to clean up!! Lots of for fox’s sakes were ranted.
    We hear you and we are all here with you. 😘

  27. Oh my gosh!!! Beth, how did you learn to read minds so well!!!
    So glad to read I am not on my own…. Life must go on & so does the march!!!
    I don’t often have time to read your blogs – always watch your Insta stories though. Much love to you & yours xx

  28. All the emotions right now reading this! Thank you and I see you too mama x

  29. Oh thank you for this Beth, I have never felt so seen! xx

  30. As usual put so eloquently Beth. I live with 2 teenage boys and a husband. I literally do EVERYTHING! I hear you all. Right now I want to run away and teach them a lesson about how much I do but can’t go anywhere ….covid and mother’s guilt!!!

    • I broke my ankle 2 weeks ago, my husband and adult son are on a J curve learning about all the stuff I do, but more so than that it’s all the thinking, planning and remembering that they are now having to do.
      My son asked me yesterday if his white running top had come through the wash yet….I just looked at him and said I haven’t been in the laundry for 2 weeks, how would I know? FFS.
      Cheers Kate

  31. Bawling my eyes out reading this😭 Thank you for putting this in to words! I see you too and salute your mopped floors!

  32. The beauty of having 2 kitchens is you can hide stuff in the second one so the first one looks pretty good. Meanwhile my wardrobe is a bit chaotic. I can hear the disarray calling my name to sort it out. I’m
    Finding it increasingly challenging to keep home and hearth as pristine as I’d like because work is insane In terms of volume , Subject matter and stress. Emails have ruined Everything because you have to be available early til late at night and you have to catch up on weekends . I often think
    Back to the glory days of maternity leave where there was no commute, no clients, no time costing every six minutes… I love the domestic stuff but the work stuff is intense and with working from home it’s seeping into the fabric of my home life which is not great. Anything under 45 is very young. God speed with the mental load xxxxx

  33. All three of my now adult children have thanked me when they left home for doing everything and told me that they didn’t know that adulting was so hard. Although I was disappointed that I didn’t make them do more, it’s satisfying that they now realise that it is bloody hard work and things don’t just happen.

  34. I have two teenagers and have raised them for most of their lives on my own. I often think this is easier because I never feel that my other half should do more, help out more etc, it’s my responsibility and that’s it. No grudge to hold. I still remember the mornings when I juggled two toddlers, lunch bags, nappies and milk bottles while he watched the news with a cup of tea. So much more infuriating!

  35. I’m with you Beth – have seen ‘Fair Play’ by Eve Rodsky recommended multiple time so am reading that currently (on holidays). Problem was that seeing the problem – the universal mum’s, women’s problem of how big the never-ending load is – in writing, filled me with even more rage. Husband offered me a nap. !!!!!! (even more infuriating when I actually really needed it and slept for 3 hours – 2 and 4 yo boys over here)
    Am going to try and implement the fair play system in my house, fingers crossed it lightens the load. Stay strong!

  36. Amen sister. The mental load is real AND I need to tidy up my shit fight of a pantry… 🙄

  37. That’s the best RUOK post I have seen. Thanks for sharing and ‘seeing’.

  38. Beth! This post, your wonderfully written words are so true and timely. I write this laying in bed as I had surgery to both ankles this week and wasn’t able to walk. My angel Mum came to stay to help out and I have watched her become me, cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, driving kids to sport training and I’m seriously exhausted just watching her. Husband and 3 boys are very competent but the mechanics of keeping a family running always fall on us. I also have a business I run and also do work for my husband. All that I can do and I love my family and my work but the mental load is the rage maker. Thanks for seeing us all, I see you too. Xx

  39. Thanks I now feel normal and not flooded.. and no I don’t feel ok and couldn’t care less about my pantry
    Thank you so much for being brave and putting this out there

  40. Yes! And thank you Beth for writing this, it’s exactly what I needed today. After watching SBS Insight with Kayte and Kim starring, this morning I got up to exercise the peri-menopausal crap out of my head and body. Hear me ROAR! Cheers to Friday!

  41. THANK YOU Beth, You have a wonderful way with words AND see the picture so clearly. You gave me the laugh I needed.
    Can we say that the balance in the scales is the unexpected moments of a spontaneous bunch of flowers, an unexpected card – written just for you, a surprise tale of ‘happenings’ at the dinner table – and perhaps one day – a little grandchild saying ‘I would like to sit next to Granny’.
    Keep up the good work and thank you again.

  42. Okay, this is sweary but it’s not a rant, it is delivered with calm xx. My best advice to anyone is not to make lists of everything. Lists like that of course make anyone have an anxiety attack and want to curl up on the floor and cry.

    Do what you can to keep people safe and fed (with whatever the fuck we want to feed them), if the floor doesn’t get mopped who cares. It does not mean your house is a tip. If cupboards don’t get sorted who cares? People can sort OR NOT SORT their own cupboards. People can make their own choices. If they don’t care their own shit is a mess then that’s fine. That’s what doors are for.

    Let/ask people do things and If they do it wrong, who cares (unless it’s folding towels in which case get your shit together family). Let some stuff go and the list is smaller. We don’t have to do every fucking thing. And with that, I leave you to go fling 10 bags of chook muck all over the garden. Because no one else will do it. I never said I had perfected my system… but I try. 🙂

  43. Yep. All of the above.

  44. Best blog post ever. Thank you Beth.

  45. Beth – reading this has made my week! Thank you x

  46. As always, I love your writing. Perfectly captures the weight of the mental load.

  47. Great read 😍 it was like you are in my head. Thanks for all your posts, honesty, recipes and laughs. I follow you everyday and it’s the best. You are doing a great job 😍

  48. Thanks for this Beth! I find the pantry clean out so stressful, mostly because of the guilt over the uneaten food I have to throw away in the process….

Speak Your Mind

*