Wow . . . three weeks since my last post . . . and today's topic perfectly explains WHY it's taken three weeks for me to write another post. Because I've been completely and utterly burnt out the last three weeks doing ALL the things (and please note, this is NOT a complaint . . . just an observation). Anyway, a friend of mine shared this article with me (You Should've Asked), and a lot of it summarized perfectly how I've been feeling. However, because I don't agree with all of the article, I'm going to write my own post drawing from it.
First, "You should've asked." Now, this question is not something I ask . . . I don't tend to ask for help. I tend to take care of ALL the things myself until I burn out and explode . . . like the pot of food on the stove. And granted, there is a part of me that wishes people would just help out without my asking. So women tend to be the managers of the household . . . as is their rightful place. After all, that's our role - to raise the family and keep things running while our husbands are out providing for us. And it is a beautiful role. (So here's my first disagreement . . . men are not underlings in the household. They are members and partners. They just have a different role in the household.) Besides, the managing role tends to come naturally to the wife in matters of the household . . . groceries; chores; bills; etc.
Now, this article implies that men should just know what to do without being told . . . which completely disregards the fact that men and women think and process things VERY differently. Women tend to think like a ball of string . . . ALL the things are connected . . . while men tend to think in boxes, i.e. one thing at a time. This means that if you ask your husband to get something out of the dishwasher, he'll get it out . . . but he won't necessarily think that this also implies he should empty and load the dishwasher. So women, we need to get better at vocalizing exactly what we'd like help with. And men, it would help if you would take notice of those things that we do ask for help so that you can do more without us asking.
Anyways, the fact that women of the household are constantly managing and thinking of all the things means that we have a mental load that never disappears . . . we ALWAYS have to remember. Men, this post is NOT intended to shame you or make you feel like you're not doing everything you're supposed to. Rather, it's meant to explain (hopefully) a little more clearly why your wives may be more exhausted than you expect when you get home. And also to keep you from showing up and asking why we're so tired when all we did was stay home all day. Don't say that.
We want your help, and sometimes we want you to pitch in and help with the chores. And I'll admit that it can be rather exhausting to come up with ALL the things I need help with rather than just doing it myself. But then I remember that I won't get any help if I don't ask. And if I don't ask, then I'll burn out. And my husband is very good at asking if I need help . . . although I don't tend to be very good at coming up with things that he can help with.
The second part of the "You Should've Asked" article that I disagree with is that men are refusing to take on their share of the mental load when they say "let me know if you need help." I think they just don't know what the mental load is like . . . they're programmed to handle things at work or in the office. That's their sphere. That's their role. And it is a good thing. Because that way we, the wives, don't have to handle all the work things. And managing all the household things comes naturally to us . . . after all, we are the ones at home. So rather than looking at this as a negative, look at the fact that they ask if they can help you out as a blessing. And be prepared with a few things they can do.
Third, I completely and utterly disagree with the insinuation that conditioning society to view women as mothers and wives and men as heroes, aka workers, is wrong. This is the way it SHOULD BE. Rather, our society today is conditioned to think that women should do it ALL . . . career; family; household. And that's where the discrepancy and frustration comes from. Because women are essentially asked to handle two full-time jobs (career and home) while men still only have the one. Now, if you choose (or need) to have a dual-income home, then you and your spouse should communicate, discuss, and adapt as need be to alleviate stress. But essentially, the solution to this "mind load" issue is about both parties gaining a better understanding of the demands laid upon each other and how they can help each other. After all, marriage is a partnership . . . and it will only succeed if both parties work together.
So I'm not sure if all of that makes sense . . . or connects properly. Essentially, the wife and mother manages ALL the things at home, and it's a never-ending list that keeps repeating in her head. And this is exhausting, in and of itself. Then you add actually DOING all the things on that list . . . and yeah, it's no wonder women are so exhausted all the time. So husbands, please understand the load placed upon your wives. Give them the gift of patience and understanding when dinner is late or the kids are screaming. Give them the gift of offering to help with a particular chore or asking if there's anything you can do. Give them the gift of a bouquet to brighten their day or a moment of peace as you wrangle the kids after dinner. And wives, ASK for help. While the household is your burden, it is not yours to bear alone. We've shifted away from a society where women had a support system in their small village. Now we must create that support for ourselves, so don't knock yourself down when you don't get everything done. Rejoice in the things you accomplish and move on.