There has been a lot of talk around the interwebs lately about a mother’s “mental load”, thanks to a comic called “You Should’ve Asked”.
The comic, which details the overwhelming daily grind of a woman’s mind as she manages a household, work and a family, has triggered a light bulb moment for women all around the world.
It makes us realise there is a reason we are so darn exhausted. Why we feel distracted and slightly anxious all the time. Why we feel like there is never truly time to stop as the endless to-do list hangs over our heads.
The comic talks about the gender inequity in most partnerships when it comes to the management and running of a household. About how it is not a genetic thing, but social programing that means women shoulder the majority of the mental and emotional burden of getting a family through each day.
As a sole parent, I have no one to divvy up this load with. The leaking toilet, the car that needs a service, the kids’ school forms, the medical appointments, the parent teacher interviews, the bills, the educational and emotional wellbeing of the children… they are all my responsibility.
But if I am completely honest, the majority of that fell to me during 17 years of “partnership” anyway.
And that is the key word here, isn’t it? Partnership.
Most women I know don’t want a white knight who will come in and take over everything.
Most women I know are perfectly capable of doing everything, just as they are doing right now.
But the point is, if they are in a partnership they shouldn’t have to be doing everything.
Women haven’t fought so hard for equality to take over the world, regardless of what Beyoncé says. We’ve fought hard to have an EQUAL standing.
We tell women they can have it all – but at what price?
We work, we have children, we make a home but (in most cases) we want to do this with our partners. Not for them, not in spite of them. With them.
This is not to say that men do not work hard or that there aren’t men who do their fair share. However, overwhelmingly women report feeling they carry the bulk of responsibility when it comes to managing the family and household.
I’m not sure where the answer lies.
I, for one, will be raising my boys to know the value of partnership in a relationship. Teaching them that everyone in a household contributes to the running of it. That it is important to be responsible for yourself, as well as knowing how to support the ones you love.
And I will be teaching my daughter that being a woman and a mother does not mean taking care of everyone and everything. That it is ok to be a strong, independent woman and still share the load.
That is what partnership should be all about.