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Women + Mind Work = We Need A BREAK

It has been one of those days. The kind that starts out with some real what the hell moments and just keeps rolling down hill as the day goes on.

Let me preface this with the fact that I started the day out already running on empty. I’m an introvert and NEED down time to refuel. I’ve learned over the years it isn’t just a want or something I desire and get as a treat once in awhile. It is an, I become an overwhelmed, crabby, my family doesn’t want to be around me anymore, kind of a person.

Case in point: as my daughter came running out of a bouncy house tonight (I had promised I would take them, even though I was exhausted) I asked my husband if he would please help (in a desperate and likely condescending tone). His response? Yes, you can help - by leaving. He was smart enough to say it under his breath but he said it nonetheless. Ouch.

How many other women out there are feeling this? A deep level of exhaustion from always being needed, from our kids to our work to our husbands to our… fill in the blank. And all we truly want is a quiet moment alone to regroup. To take a few deep breath in solitude without a to-do list a mile long.

As I spent some time yesterday with my girlfriends (I’ve learned that my life also REQUIRES time with my besties so that I can get the nurturing and support I need to keep going) we talked about an article that one of us recently read about women taking on the brunt of the “mind work”. The mind work is the organizational details of running and managing a family or a household. It’s the day-to-day details (are we low on toilet paper? do the kids have food for lunch? when are they due to visit the doctor? dentist? what’s for dinner?).

According to Ellen Seidman, author of a poem about this exact dilemma, men’s minds don’t work in this same way. Now I honestly haven’t studied this issue but I can tell you from my own experience and that of my female friends, this is a hard truth. Most of the men in my life don’t worry about the babysitters for date night nor do they plan the details of the much needed date night.

After having a meltdown from reaching my limits of what my brain can actually handle for daily details, my husband will often say to me, “you never asked me to (pick up dinner, buy milk, scrub the toilets)”. No, I didn’t. Because I have been hoping and praying that one day, you will share the burden of the mind work and will also see what needs to be done without being told.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband does a fair share of the work around the house. He does laundry, scrubs floors, and bathes the kids. And, he doesn’t always need to be asked, sometimes he will just do it.

So, why do I feel the need to share this? Because, after having a really rough day, I just want my husband to understand. To see that I’m not trying to be a bxxxx and that I’m not mad at him. I’m just completely exhausted. I go from being needed all day long to coming home and realizing all the things I need to manage in order for our lives to seemingly go on smoothly. But the reality is that under the surface, it is anything but smooth.

I know I chose this life; to be married, to have two beautiful and amazing kids. I want all of it, the messiness, the busyness, the I want to pull my hair out or go hide in the bathroom for an hour days. I love my life. I know I am blessed beyond measure.

But, I also want to be real. I want others to hear me say, this is hard. Some days it’s REALLY hard. And on those days I need some softness. I need nurturing and care. I need those around me to put on their kid gloves and treat me with tenderness and understanding.

I don’t know if the men in my life will ever understand why I stress out so much about all the mind work and I don’t know if I will ever learn how to truly let it go. I know my yoga practice has helped me break many of the patterns and repetitious thoughts in my mind. I have learned through yoga to recognize when I am reaching my limits and need some self-care but I don’t know yet if I will be able to release myself from the daily details of managing my full life.

Until then, I’m treating myself with kid gloves and tenderness. I write this as I’ve reached my peak and am shutting the world out for the evening and going to bed (at 8pm). I know tomorrow is a new day and I will likely wake up feeling relief. I guess my husbands advice was spot on after all.

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