The invisible mental load on mothers

Best ways to comfort a sad person
Photo: Collected

Most of motherhood that is glorified — the process of giving birth, breastfeeding, the sleepless nights — is visible. What if we say that this is only the tip of the iceberg? The invisible and infinitely more extensive workload frequently goes unseen by the world and is most often, the root cause of why mothers feel tired all the time. We call it the mental load and all mothers can relate.

Imagine a modern couple. They have their chores divided equally, they spend quality time together and everything runs seamlessly without either of them feeling overburdened. They decide to grow their family because how hard can it be, right? Wrong! The workload skyrockets and suddenly no one is sleeping, everyone is tired and the house is still a mess.

Once the laundry is folded, and the last bottle for the night is prepared, parents can finally hit the sack, yes? While that may be true for fathers, the day is far from over for mothers. In fact, the next day has already started.

Mentally, a mother is listing out all the things she needs to remember to do the following day — stocking up on baby supplies, looking at the vaccine card to figure out the next date for baby's shots, ordering corner protectors because the baby might bump their head on the dresser, and so on.

She may be planning her day so that she can have a maximum number of things done before the baby wakes up. She might be looking for newer onesies online because the one baby is wearing seems tighter around the middle. She may be looking for sweater deals in late summer because baby clothes are expensive or she may be planning a balanced meal for baby's lunchtime.

By the time a mother is done, her mind is begging to be emptied. She wakes up the next morning just as exhausted, much to the surprise of her husband.

The list above is by no means exhaustive. In fact, it does not even scratch the surface. Think of an older child and a mother will be rolling an entire calendar in their minds, planning out school admission dates, family vacations, and so on. This is not even counting emergencies — contingency planning will take another article. Or book.

Husbands, while supportive partners and the most wonderful fathers, can often overlook this massive burden that mothers carry alone. To them, the message is loud and clear. If you see the mother of your children looking a little frayed around the edges, do not ask. Look around for what needs to be done, and do it. Friends, do not leave a new mother alone. Come bearing her favourite food — and possibly a notebook!