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My husband has approximately three things he adds to our household grocery list:


  • His shaving cream.
  • His shampoo.
  • Shower spray. (Don’t ask about this one. He has an obsessive thing about the glass shower door.)

That’s it.

It’s not his fault. Not really. I make note of the rest of the 8,000 things a family of four requires because it falls squarely under the duties of CEO of our household—a position I never interviewed for, yet I rose up through the ranks to find myself in, sometime between the day I got married and the day I popped out a second kid.

I stay home with the kids, which means I am the default day-to-day manager. Nevermind that I also work, it just happens to be at the kitchen table. So while I attempt to craft the next viral essay on the hilarity of momhood, I’m also trying to teach my kids how to craft a homemade paper mache pinata.

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This is 100 percent what is happening right now. See?

As moms, our minds are always going. Going fast. Going in a million different directions. Going away. Going.

And it’s not just the children and the shopping lists we manage. It’s all of it—we think about the cleaning, the cooking, the organizing, the planning, the dressing, the gift-buying, the brushing, the laundering, the caring about the everything.

If you are lucky like me, hubs is happy to pitch in. Mine shares carpool duty and manages bedtime. I have never cut a blade of grass or taken out the garbage. He is known as “Lord of the Dishwasher.”

But, even though he handles certain chores, there is always me, magically elfing behind the scenes—managing the stuff that makes his duties possible.

I tell him what time to pick up the kids and who has what practice when. Without me, there wouldn’t be dishwasher pods or garbage bags, and there certainly wouldn’t be toothpaste for brushing or new library books for bedtime stories.

This, my fellow moms, is why we are tired. Not because we don’t have help or get enough sleep—well, there is that.

But there is also the fact that mom brain is a real thing, and if you’re nodding along with me—congratulations, you, too, are suffering from it.

That endless running to-do list is called the mental load. It is heavy, and in most families, it is carried by the mom.

The notion of the mental load is beautifully captured in all its glory in this cartoon by French comic artist, Emma. Her depiction of the struggle entitled “You Should Have Asked” nails this idea that for the majority of households, women are constantly managing and keeping track of all that needs to be done.

In the cartoon, when things go haywire in the kitchen, the husband points out he was there to help. “You should’ve asked!” he says.

But, do we really have to ask?

In short, yes. So, go ahead, add “Ask for help” to your to-do list.

Susan Walzer, a sociologist at Skidmore College, published a research article in 1996, called, “Thinking About the Baby,” that confirms some truths in Emma’s cartoon. Walzer interviewed 23 couples who had recently become parents and found that women do, in fact, carry more of the mental load.

Noting that, even when their partners helped out, women are the ones who noticed what needed to be done in the first place.

At no point is this more clear than when I travel for work. Before I hop on that plane I pre-pack lunches, I buy and prepare easy dinners, I do all the laundry, I lay out clothes, I write down the schedule. I make all the plans that I won’t be a part of. When hubs travels, he just kisses us and leaves.

The burden of this self-inflicted mental load is mine. I’m the one worrying, thinking, planning. But honestly, if I did none of this, he would be fine. The kids would be happy.

He might feed them donuts and nuggets, and they’d dress themselves in a cacophony of colors, but the world would keep spinning.

But I return, and hubs rejoices. The heavy baton of mental load passes back to me: manager in residence. Balance (or imbalance) is restored as I resume my position lying awake in bed making mental lists and taking note of every dirty sock and empty ketchup bottle.

That, dear mamas, is why we’re all so darn tired.

This article was originally published on Simplemost.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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