Recently I read an article on about a blogger who wrote an ode to herself (and other mothers) about all the mental checklists and resulting “invisible workload” that mothers alone seem to bear (as the article would have it).

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This guy was about to pound my brain’s control board.

My knee-jerk reaction was to compile my own list–as a father and working adult–and point out that I also think about some of these things in the household. Also, despite what some sociologists found, my “second shift” starts when I get home and the “third” begins when the kids finally go to sleep.

Then, I remembered what I tell my daughter when she is going to react: “Brain Flood!” This is our code for when our pre-frontal cortex becomes flooded with emotion, and we need to take a breath, recognize that flooding, and calm down before making any decisions. (Yeah, we’re nerdy like that, deal with it.).

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Sometimes I love the internet–it saves me so much time!

So I took a breath, and then wrote this blog post…and a list anyways. (But I swear, the payoff is after, please read on!)

  • I’m the one who notices that gas/oil status in the cars (she at least threw that bone to her spouse).
  • I’m the one who has to figure out if we need new struts on the car or if we should get a new bed because I wake up with back pain every day…and we can only get one.
  • I’m the one who notices when our tune ups are due or when our brakes need replacing.
  • Enough about cars! They’re only our means of getting around and living our lives.
  • I’m the one who notices our daughter says “sorry” way too much and I refuse to let her start down the path of internalizing that particular gender stereotype.
  • I’m the one who has looked deep at myself and am determined to not let my son be emotionally repressed and internalize that other particular gender stereotype.
  • I’m the one who notices when our credit card 0% balance transfer promotion is up, and will slide the remainder around so we continue not having to pay interest for the next set of 18-21 months.
  • I’m the one–as the sole income source–who tries to make myself indispensable at work so I have job security and can continue to provide a roof over my family’s head.
  • I’m the one who keeps a close eye on our monthly budget, and if we’re short on the “eating out” line item, I’ll make a PBJ sandwich and let the kids and mom get their meal on the road because it’s more convenient for them and means they all will be ridiculously happy with Chick-fil-A fries.
  • I’m the one who sells my extra hobby stuff-which at one time brought such joy–to bring in extra cash so maybe, just maybe, we can go on a real vacation for the first time in 7 years. Or pay our bills.
  • I’m the one who will wear a Disney princess tattoo (temporary) for my daughter and be proud to explain to my coworkers how bright her eyes were that we got “matching tattoos.”
  • And so on, and so forth.

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As I compiled my non-competitive list, I realized, maybe I missed the point. But after writing it down and taking that deep breath, I perhaps found some common ground:

There’s a crap-ton of mental work that goes on for any involved parent, or a working adult in a relationship without children. There’s also probably a desire to have that silent work be recognized by their partner as a way of respecting all the extra things we do, even if they’re not tangible. And I think that’s fair for both people.

(Also, I think all that extra mental work can lead to anxiety, which is pretty much an epidemic in our country, but I’ll save that for some other time).


Now I have to sign off and go thank my wife for noticing the crumbs we missed while cleaning up. And I should probably refill our toilet paper as apparently it’s a big deal.

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