It is 8 pm and I am tucked in bed, ready to sleep for a few hours before my dear daughter starts insistently requesting that her pacifier be put back immediately into her mouth- exciting times!
Although my brain is still taking its time to recover from pregnancy+giving birth+taking care of a new born +going to work+being a woman+being a friend, every night, it still manages to generate a mental list of all the things that need to be thought of and done around the house.
This list of things is… intellectually uninteresting! It is as sensual as imagining Prince Andrew sweating on the dance floor.
I’m thinking about: replenishing the toilet paper, what to cook for the week, the bills that need to be paid, and everything else you can think of that comes along with adulthood/being in a relationship/living in one’s own flat … with a man.
You don’t even need to have a child with someone to have been given the blessed privilege of handling the mental load in this “equal” partnership.
It is a gift to our gender.
The mental load
The mental load concept, as introduced by Monique Haicault in the 80’s, explains that we women are still the ones taking care of all the domestic chores, as we remain in charge of the list of things to do.
Hence the name: the mental load.
Our brain is overloaded with the mental to-do list of: buy tablets for dishwasher, do the laundry, put the bin out – the one for the plastic and not the paper!, – call the cleaner to change the day, check with nursery what kind of present we need to buy for the 10 kids, Oh and we need to bring the cat to the vet- sh@t that was supposed to be done two months ago…
All this while our other half sits, observing us as if we were getting anxious, antsy and overworked over these little things; things they feel amount ultimately to nothing.
-“What is the issue? It will be done,” is the often-heard nonchalant response of the ones for whom society has deemed it acceptable to be hairy below the eyebrows.
Each time this sentence passes the lips of the man of my dreams, I remain silent for a few seconds. The issue is that I thought of it. The issue is that I had to think of it. This and the thousands of other little things.
So, before some men start screaming hysterically and saying that this article is offensively feminist: Yes, our beloved partners today will help us if we tell them what to do.
We are sincerely so blessed with the modern men we have that they have agreed to execute whatever we tell them to do. And we are thrilled that in our current century, we can remind them of what they need to do via WhatsApp, by email, by messenger, by text or simply by calling them.
So what are we women complaining about? Isn’t it our dream come true: we can order them around, quality-check their work, and stalk them!
All while they can comfortably snooze or walk down the street lightly like a dandy, twirling around his umbrella (I live in the north of Europe), knowing that nothing more of importance needs doing…or else we would have told them to do it.
And that is my whole point: we are still left with the burden of recalling all the daily unsexy chores AND having to plan and dispatch the tasks.
We have become our own mothers
Now, let’s clarify one thing: I am not a feminist. Actually, I hate this word; I hate the movement as it belittles men in order for us women to find our voice. I refuse to do so. However, it does not mean that I cannot still point out the inequalities that remain in our societies.
This unfair unequal mental load keeps us awake not only because of the stress that it generates, but as well because of the realization of what we have become; what we had always swore we would NEVER become: our mother, the typical mother moaning in the back of your head or on the other side of the door or on the phone: I told you to do that, don’t forget to do that…Gnagna gnagna- French way to say blah, blah, blah.
And it is weird, but once we engage in “these” practical yet unfulfilling conversations, our actual voice undergoes changes. As if the delivery of the topic was not annoying enough, the sound of our vocals becomes even more irritating. It rises higher and higher in pitch and we start articulating each word in a very patronizing manner to the extent that we can hear, from time to time, our partner pronounce the following words: “You are not my mother.”
But ladies, non, we are not their mothers. We are women living with a man.
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