Every weekend is the same. We let our kids lounge around in their PJ’s and stay glued to their iPads until we drag our sorry asses out of bed. Then we caffeinate ourselves and feed the kids, do some chores around the house, and attempt to start our day. Aside from holidays, special occasions, and family gatherings, we keep our weekends fairly open and flexible, which is generally a good thing.
That is, except for the part where the burden of planning any and all of our activities falls squarely on my shoulders.
Here’s how the morning planning conversation generally goes:
Me: “Hey family, what do you want to do today?”
Family (wrestling each other and/or immersed in a video game): “I don’t know.”
Me: “It’s a nice day. How about the park?”
Family. “I don’t know.”
Me: “Oh, should we see what’s playing in the movies?”
Family: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Hey, how about mini-golf? Remember you guys said we should do that once the weather turns nice?”
Family: “Uh…I don’t know.”
And this goes on and on and on until I end up painfully milking the kids and husband for even an ounce of preference, and then come up with a plan based on that—along with the weather, when people are likely to be hungry, how much time we will have for each thing, and making sure that we will get home by bedtime.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like my family doesn’t have opinions on everything under the sun. Each one of them is strong-willed in their own way, and definitely makes their needs and preferences known. But when it comes to the real-life, practical stuff, or anything that involves making decisions about how to spend their time, it’s a big fat blob of indecision and indifference.
Generally, everyone seems to go along with my plans for the most part, and I get why that makes me #blessed, and why I should be grateful for that. The problem is that being the chief planner and decision-maker of my family is freaking exhausting and I basically hate it most of the time. Yup, I’m resentful AF, and I have no problem saying that to anyone who will listen.
Here’s the thing. Maybe I wouldn’t be so annoyed and exhausted by this role of mine if it wasn’t one of the many invisible mental/emotional tasks that I am burdened with. Like most moms, it’s not just the fact that most chores and childcare tasks get funneled back to me, almost by default.
It’s the endless thoughts, decisions, and planning that I have to hold in my head that really get me. And it’s not just planning what we’re going to do that day. It’s about having a sketch in mind for the week ahead, for months ahead, for entire freaking seasons and years ahead.
And it’s all that on top of ensuring that the nitty-gritty details of our lives are in order. You know, making sure that my kids always have their favorite snacks on hand; that their permission slips are signed; that they wear the school shirt on the day of the walk-a-thon; remembering who will need what doctor or dentist appointment and when; and the list goes on.
But it’s the emotional burden of it all too. It’s that I keep everyone’s hopes, needs, desires, and fears in my head along with everything else. So when I’m out there making decisions about what we’re going to do that weekend, I’m thinking about what would be best for everyone’s moods. I’m thinking about what would push their boundaries in a good way, enlighten them, teach them something.
It’s a beautiful thing to be tuned in this way, to be entrusted with so much of the emotional lives of my kids and husband. But I do wonder if I am doing them a disservice by being the one who holds so much of it in my head and heart for them. I wonder if I should stand back, and let go more, even if all hell breaks loose for a while and nobody gets off their butts and nothing gets done.
I’m just not sure I could handle the havoc that would ensue if I stopped being the manager-of-all-things and chief decision-maker of my household. I don’t know if I have the emotional or mental space to deal with the fall out of that. But maybe if I weren’t in this role in the first place, that wouldn’t be a question. It’s an endless loop of fuckery, isn’t it?
As you can see, I definitely don’t have all the answers. Like many of you, I love my family to bits and would do anything for them. And I do everything for them. I am the one who will decide if we are going to go to the movies on Friday night, and also the one who will pretty much make every major life decision our family faces in the next 15 years.
It’s my role. Maybe I choose it. Maybe it choose me. But I’m tired of it. I resent it. And I think it’s okay—and necessary—to say that.