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Local mum of three asks: what mental load?

For Mother’s Day, Mamamia wants to promote gender equality by encouraging women to #LowerTheBar for themselves and others. The standards are so high for mothers and the ultimate cost is women’s mental health and wellbeing. That's why you'll notice something different about the stories on our homepage today. To draw attention to the underappreciated reality of being a mother in 2021, we've written satirical stories using headlines that would never, ever be written. Ultimately, the message is that mums are held to an impossible standard, and this Mother’s Day, we should give them the ultimate gift: kindness. You can read more about   Mother's Day at Mamamia here.

A local mum of three has been left confused after a series of recent conversations with friends. 

While her peers have sighed about what they call the 'mental load' - of child rearing, maintaining a household, keeping track of important dates and events, and the day-to-day minutiae of life, which seems to unfairly fall on women - Maria, 37, can't relate.

"I don't get it," she told Mamamia. "Raising three children of three different ages in three different classes with three sets of activities is quite simple, really."

She explained that her oldest daughter Willow, 8, plays soccer on Saturday mornings, and it's no trouble taking her to training during the week, as well as washing the team's jerseys. Maria also knows all the names of the other kids on the team, and all their parents, too. 

"Sandy is the one with the blonde hair who is a lawyer as well as a mum of two," Maria said, before whispering, "her daughter is terrible at soccer so we cheer extra loud when she gets the ball and doesn't fall over."

When asked about her ageing parents, Maria remained calm, expressing that she simply visits a few times a week to check in and help them with anything they need. "My older brother Graham isn't quite as involved," she said. "But that's to be expected. He's very busy with a family of his own."

Maria also works part time, while her youngest is in childcare. "Balancing work and motherhood is no trouble," she explained, her left eye twitching ever so slightly. "Sure, the kids get sick. Or don't want to go to school. Or split their head open on the playground in the middle of the busiest work day I've had in a decade. And the school continues to call me first, no matter how many times I gently suggest they call Greg on the days I'm working. But, you know, you plan around it!"


During our 14 minute interview, Maria's phone lights up 162 times with emails, phone calls and Whatsapp messages. She asks if she can have a moment, and I overhear her tersely saying into her phone: "No, Greg, I haven't organised your costume for Cathy and Bill's themed 40th. Because I have forgotten what the theme is and I've lost the invitation. And I'm not certain the party wasn't last week. You can go as a clown like last time... yes I know the theme is historical figures but I don't have time for this. Bye."

She returns with a slightly broken smile and I notice that her shoes don't match and she's missing an earring. 

"So basically I don't know what this whole 'mental load' thing is about," she concludes. "I have no trouble whatsoever doing it all. The kids. The extra-curricular activities. The job. The cooking. The cleaning. The washing. The dog. That bloody dog. The lunches. The pick-ups. The drop offs. The birthdays. So many birthdays. Why does everyone need a birthday. 

"But it's fine. Sure, there are invisible tasks I spend my life doing that no one ever thanks me for. And several areas of my life could really constitute a full-time job in and of themselves. But I thrive on it. The mental load is a ridiculous thing to complain about. 

"Anyway, I have somewhere to be." 

For the next 26 minutes, I watch Maria look for her car. She can't find where she parked it. And just before she drives off, I'm sure I see her check that no one's watching and quickly type 'the mental load of motherhood' into Google.