That was the answer whenever anyone asked me how I was doing. I was stressed. I let my life and expectations get the better of me. The thing is that these weren’t even self-imposed expectations.
I guess that’s a little harsh. I was the one putting the stress on myself. I was the one having anxiety attacks over the fact I wasn’t able to cook. I held myself solely responsible for putting dinner on the table nightly.
The answer is so easy that it’s embarrassing. I spent the majority of my life under the impression that mothers do it all. They are responsible for #allthethings. They are the people who get up early with the kids, lose sleep when the kids are sick, and most importantly they cook and clean all by themselves. How did this happen to me?
I wasn’t raised in a traditional house. We had a live-in housekeeper for the majority of my life. The yard work was hired out to a local lawn service. No one expected me to do more than pick up things around the house and dust my own room occasionally. I cooked dinner because I enjoyed it. I baked constantly because it was relaxing. When did I become so stressed over sustenance for myself?
It happened the moment I got a title. That title was mother. It starts long before you’re looking at mom hashtags on Instagram, but it’s constantly enforced by what you see there as well. We hear constantly about how dads aren’t capable. We see mismatched children who are eating cupcakes for dinner, and we think oh that’s a total dad move. Is it? Does it matter? Truthfully, I don’t think it does on occasion, but I also don’t think it’s specifically a dad thing.
What started at my house during dinnertime?
I started to cry hysterically almost every night. I wanted to get dinner ready for the hour when my son needed to eat before turning into a Gremlin. I wanted to prep and cook it all. I wanted to do it because I thought I was supposed to do it. I thought that it was my responsibility. My husband worked all day so why couldn’t I get dinner on the table. The reason was a four letter word that started with b. You know the one, right?
I’m talking about the fact that inevitably my children would want to feed, from the only person capable of feeding them before their first birthday, at the exact time dinner was supposed to be cooked. The world doesn’t come with a manual for this. The world comes with expectations. It comes with other parents being judgemental. It comes with a social media timeline that only shows you other people’s highlight reels. I let this simple moment where I was providing major life-giving sustenance to one child define myself as a mother and a wife as if it were a negative. I let this happen by crying hysterically every single time my husband came into the room and took the dinner situation.
I call it the situation because it looked like this. It looked like half chopped vegetables with an eye on the stove going heating up oil that was ready for all the vegetables and/or meat to appear in it. It was sizzling. It was flour EVERYWHERE. It was a war zone. A war zone of my own creation. At the point when my husband would take over, I would snap at him. It was MY JOB. I was supposed to be providing the manual labor behind the meal. He worked hard and what did I do? I mean other than run my own business, podcast, and take care of two human beings all day.
That’s when I decided that my business needed to change. I needed to shift focus to deal with all the parts of life that were causing me stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. I needed to focus on creating a place for moms to lessen their mental load and deal with the inequality of the home. I’m not saying that because my home is in any way the kind of place where I’m not considered a strong woman capable of all things. I’m saying that because as a society we still depend on me to be the person holding it all together. I’m still expected on some level, although not by my husband, to be managing everyone’s calendar. I’m supposed to know what has and hasn’t been done as far as laundry. I should have the menu planned for the week. I need to be abe to tell you at the drop of a hat when my child’s next doctor’s appointment is…
Do you see how this is exhausting? Do you see how this is stressful?
I started to see the light. It was a long road to get there because I was still stressed and practically yelling every single night for the first 3 months of my daughter’s life. What can I say? I take a long time to get to the point of finding a solution for my problem.
So why did I decide to start Modern Mom Collective? I decided to start it because dinner was truly ruining my life. Dinner was just the first vessel for me to notice. It was the first moment when I realized I was trying to carry too much of the load. I was silently suffering because I didn’t know how to ask for help. When I realized the dinner problem, it was like a dam broke. It was beautiful because we were finally able to come up with solutions. We were able to become a better family. It also brought me here.
What does this mean? It means that I dream of a society where dads are thought of as capable and women can leave some of the burden weighing us down at the door. We can relax and realize that things will get done by members of our household without us micromanaging it. I also want us to create a space in our lives that don’t leave our sons and daughters in the same predicament. I want love and equality for all.