I’ve always been good at hide-and-seek, but I never thought I would be so so good at hiding in plain sight.
As mothers, we are our children’s world, and when they are young, most have tunnel vision aimed in our direction. Any step by us outside of their field of view, well, it’s purposefully thwarted.
So, if we are continually being noticed and almost stage five clinger-esque watched by our offspring, how could we feel unseen? Sadly, very easily.
Numerous articles have been circulating on “the mental load of motherhood,” and I, myself, have even written about it.
What every article points to is the often invisible pressure from the less obvious tasks that we mothers are responsible for which help to keep the day-to-day family machine successfully operating.
But since most of what we must do requires unobserved methodical planning, mental energy, and emotional exertion, nobody notices; except maybe other mommas who can relate to the cognitive stamina necessary to keep a family afloat and (mostly) happy.
While I can hear my male critics avowing that they, too, feel the pressures of parenting, work, and marriage, let’s make clear that no one ever said that they don’t.
However, the difference is that more often, men are willing to voice their needs (boys night, date night, self-care time) and both demand and make time to satisfy them.
And — while not all — a lot of women, though they can decipher when they feel overworked, underappreciated, and basically off-balance, feel shame in wishing for or requesting any type of “me time” that could remedy their emotional, and in some cases, physical instability.
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I was hot and then cold, and my body ached.
I couldn’t get comfortable.
My co-sleeping 2-year-old, per usual, was right beside me.
I woke up, and as it turns out, I had a fever.
I took a fever-reducer, drank some coffee and proceeded onward with my morning routine.
I got myself dressed and ready for the day, and I woke my three children to help them do the same.
They ate breakfast, they brushed their teeth and off to school they went.
I didn’t come home and go back to bed as I should have.
I didn’t just lay on the couch and watch TV and rest.
I came home and immediately started checking stuff off of my to-do list because, well, there is no shortage of to-dos, and if not done today, they would just be waiting for me tomorrow.
The problem with the “mom boss” mentality that many like myself adhere to, is that we can literally lose ourselves — our fun-loving personality, our zest for life, our humor, and occasionally, our good health. If we don’t stop hiding our true, exhausted, and periodically feverish selves behind the face of a woman who feels guilt and shame doing any less on a given day than she could do on one of her best days, we’ll be in trouble.
I may not be up for a lively game of serious hide-and-seek with the kids later this afternoon, but one thing I know for sure is that I won’t be hiding in plain sight anymore.
In my high temperature-induced state, I’m committing to myself to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy “mom bossing.”
When you run yourself into sickness because you won’t stop go-go-going, that’s just dumb.
Alternatively, when you pay attention to the signs from your mind and body to slow down, that’s not only smart, it’s quite literally life-preserving.
We must stop hiding in plain sight.
We must stop hiding from our spouses that we are sometimes tired and rundown.
We must stop hiding from our kids and our friends that, for any length of time, our energy tank is low or empty.
We must stop hiding from anyone who is concerned about our mental or physical well-being by pretending that “it’s all good” all of the time in wonderful, of-course-I’m-blessed-to-be-here Mommyland.
And, we must stop hiding from any mental or physical malaise, thinking that in doing such, means it’s not there, or that it’ll easily disappear.
And, since there’s an excellent chance that this evening, my munchkins will desire a pre-bed good ole’ game of you-can’t-find-me, I’m going to spend the rest of my morning taking care of me, so that later I can have some heart-fulfilling fun with them.
If you need me in the next hour, I’ll be on the couch — guilt-free.
This story originally appeared on @jthreenme on Facebook