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Taking Care of

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Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

Throughout January, I found a tutor for my son based on recommendations and chats with several candidates, then scheduled a time for him to go, scheduled a cello class for him in addition to his other clubs, paid for all clubs including daughter's dance school, found a vet—again based on recommendations—and made various appointments for the furball currently occupying my lap, got my daughter into her eye hospital appointment and then took her to choose her new glasses, took the puppy to his various vet appointments, bought puppy pads and puppy toys and puppy food and trombone sheet music book and new ballet shoes to replace the lost ones and organised a bulk purchase of child-size fishnets for the upcoming dance competition. I would say this is in addition to the usual stuff of getting everyone to school and various clubs on time and making sure we have food in the fridge and cleaning supplies and clean clothes, but all the stuff I did this month are the usual stuff. When there are two kids (and a new puppy) in the house, there's always something. Piano grade exam, dance performance, school trip, doctor appointments, bank documents and insurance documents and manuals to file, and, of course, handling whatever the house wants to throw at you: leaky tap, radiator bleeding, loose footboard in the kitchen.

I'm incredibly privileged. I don't work in an actual job with deadlines and bosses. We have enough so we can hire help, so there are a cleaner and a housekeeper who do a fantastic job coming into our house and keeping it neat and saving me so much time of doing laundry and scrubbing bathrooms. And yet, I fit this daunting list of stuff around my writing time, and that is stressful. It may be more stressful for me than for others, and it's certainly more stressful in times when I'm dealing with high anxiety levels than when I'm not. But it's always stressful. I worry about getting all of it done, not forgetting anything (wait, do we have a sitter for tomorrow?), and the best time in which to get things done: is it better to have a full day or errands or to do them bit by bit, half an hour a day?

I tell you these things, not for the sympathy or the oneupmanship, but because I'm trying to make a point. Running a family house is a full-time job. Making sure the kids' needs are met, and the daily logistics are in order takes work and time. I'm far from the first one to point that out. And it's called invisible work for a reason. The only time you ever notice it is when something goes wrong. When you're late for school, or you didn't pay the bill in time, or it's seven pm, and we realise the fridge is empty, or we ran out of toilet paper.

Lately, I've been experiencing the double whammy of feeling so low that some of the stuff go wrong (mostly dinners and getting to clubs) and then feeling useless because I didn't get these things done, which doesn't help with the depression. There's the voice in the back of my head that says, what's the point? If you're not doing your share, what is the point of you?

I need to stress that this is not the "mum who takes care of everyone but herself" trope. I take care of my self plenty. More than most moms I know, actually. I run, do yoga, and see a therapist and a chiropractor regularly. And I've been struggling with that, as well. It takes so much effort just to keep me going, I'm not sure it's not time to swap for a new model. If only life worked that way.


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