I’m tired, y’all. And I don’t mean physically fatigued. I mean I am mentally exhausted. I’m sure you know the deal — you’ve read the “invisible workload” articles — but more importantly, you live the reality. You know exactly what I mean when I say that I am tired of having a monopoly on all family information. Something I once took pride in has come full circle to bite me in my big ol’ butt: I am tired of answering everyone’s questions and frustrated that I can!
At some point, my husband and children came to the valid conclusion that Asking Mom was a much more efficient way of solving their problems than figuring them out themselves. I answer any number of asinine questions in a given day.
“How long should I heat this up for?” “What happened to my blue shirt?” “Do we need to return this paper to school?” “What chapter does he need to read to?” “When is her doctor appointment?” “Have you seen my belt?” “What time do we need to be there tonight?”
Here’s the problem, though: I can answer every single one of these (and many more). Once upon a time, I would’ve been proud of myself for being able to do that. It’s like a super power. Not so much anymore. Now it’s like this weight I carry around all day.
And listen, I have made very real steps toward resolving this problem. I created a digital calendar that I share with my husband. When he tries to treat me as his external hard drive by spouting out dates and information (“I have a faculty meeting next Monday”), I remind him to “Put it in the calendar.” He has no idea that I’m trying to reconcile that information with the daughter’s dance class, the boys’ Boy Scout meeting, and the dinner I’m fixing that evening — much less my own schedule! Maybe I should see it as a compliment that he believes I’m so capable, a belief my kids have, too.
They bring all their questions and problems to me. And like Rosie the Riveter, when it came to solving their problems, I was proud that I could do it! I took pride in my ability to independently fix the Lego model, to find the shoes, to recite the boys’ free dress dates for school. I was storing more facts and details in my subconscious than I even knew, and it was great … until it became overwhelming.
I realized that every time I successfully and accurately answered any of their questions, I was becoming an enabler to the habit. So when the kids would bring their questions to me, I started referring them to the other adult in the room — their dad. “Ask Daddy” became my motto for a while. And honestly? It works. Now I take a lot of mental vacations in the comfort of my own home. I respond to a lot of the questions with “You decide” or “I don’t have any secret information that you don’t have” or even a blatant lie of “I don’t know” because, dammit, I know exactly where you put your jacket, but I refuse — RE-FUSE! — to help you solve a problem that you are so capable of solving without my help.
But here’s the remaining problem: I still subconsciously store all the information. Without even trying, I can still answer every single question. I don’t know how to turn that Mom-setting off yet.
In the meantime, though … No more questions, your honor. My Mommy-brain is tired.