When I was a single mom, sometimes all I wished for was someone to help think about “adult things” so that I didn’t have to do it all the time. I made every decision, had every worry, thought about every needed thing…sometimes all I wanted was for someone else to decide what to fix for dinner.
Then I wasn’t a single mom anymore, but the decision stress still seemed to remain. I couldn’t really pinpoint what it was, because Tyler was always super willing to help out and do anything I asked. So I just kind of resigned myself to it being an inner feeling in my life.
Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend shared an illustrated article, “You Should Have Asked,” that talks about the mental load women typically deal with. This was my lightbulb moment. It was like all the inexplainable feelings I’d had were there, and with pictures! Although I wasn’t sure I agreed with all the reasoning behind women taking on the brunt of the mental load, I did find it interesting enough to share with my male partner.
So I sent it over chat while we were both working on our computers at home. Tyler’s first response was, “It doesn’t really seem like a comic.” In which he meant, “I thought it was going to be funny.” And then we kind of left it at that.
The next week a few packages came in the mail to Tyler. When he’d explained what he’d ordered, my first reaction was, “Why did you buy those?” The padded floor he found for Arlo is one of those weird things that makes me cringe inside. The dish brush wasn’t the one we normally buy… His response to ordering without saying anything: “I was trying to take some of your mental load.”
And then I realized that part of my mental load is brought on by myself. Maybe for all the historical reasons in the article, maybe for none of them. Either way, I realized that it will take both sides to even out the mental load. Yes, Tyler can think about doing things without being asked. But I also have to accept the help as it comes. I can’t want executive decisions to be made without me, then be upset I wasn’t consulted.
If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. If you want help from someone else, you’ve got to accept it’s going to be their version of right. Is that what the Frozen song meant? “Let it go, let it go…”
I’m also learning to say “thanks” more. Not that everything needs applause and a gold star. But for me, showing sincere appreciation helps me see where the other person is coming from (aka, not be so cynical). So maybe I would not have bought the foam mats for Arlo, but it was nice to have the problem solved without spending the time to think of how. And for that, my brain is thankful.