I’ve heard this talked about so much lately. On podcasts, in books, during conversations with friends, it’s everywhere. The “invisible weight” that we as mothers, as women, as caretakers carry. It’s been around for decades, but something we’re just beginning to talk about.
And while I wholeheartedly believe it’s true, to be totally honest, I really don’t like this narrative.
And I know exactly why.
It touches a nerve deep within me. Because I told myself this SAME STORY FOR YEARS.
I carried that “invisible weight” around with me, proudly, for years. I would talk about it, complain about it, think about it. Obsessive over it. It was MINE, the badge I wore proudly, and I was gonna let you know (subtly and not so subtly) every chance I could.
Can’t you see? Don’t you know? Look at all I’m doing, with this weight on me, There’s no room for anything else…
But the truth is. I put that invisible weight there. I did that. And deep down, as much as I complained about it, I think in some twisted way, I loved it…..
Because it’s WHO I WAS.
It was deeply ingrained in my identity. And without the “invisible weight” of motherhood, being a wife, caring for our home, family, friends, you name it, I’d be left with just me. Space. Time.
And that, my friends, was terrifying. It was easier to carry around the invisible load, to stay in my own suffering, than to step into the unknown.
Or to step outside the unspoken rule of womanhood.
As women, we’re taught to carry our “invisible weight” PROUDLY. After all, that’s what a “good woman” does. How selfless she is, is touted and praised. Self. Less.
We are silently taught from the generations before us, and we, as women today, continue to feed the problem.
We, women, put this weight on each other. And we don’t even realize it.
About a year and a half ago I did something most mothers probably don’t do. I handed two kids over. Mentally. To JP. Who after all, is surely just as capable as me.
It was an experiment. I had hit my breaking point. (The blessing and curse of four kids) And I thought, what if I try setting down some of that invisible weight? Would the world end?
So I did the one thing a “good mother” is not supposed to do, I asked for help.
I asked JP to carry the mental load for two of the kids. And I mean, ALL the things. The doctor’s appointments, the teacher conferences, the worrying about activities, and friends, about whether the lacrosse jersey is dirty and what time practice got changed to. I gifted him half the load
Yes, I was still their mother in every way possible. I still sat and read bedtime stories, made lunches, and wiped away tears about friends, but I now had someone else who was thinking about ALL the things that used to be just mine alone. I was no longer the stopgap. WE were now the stopgap.
The weight got lighter. My shoulders thanked me.
So naturally, I sat down even more. I gave JP the summer. Mentally.
He planned the schedules, the camps, the forms, the worrying about who was getting where and when. And I just showed up (I mean, maybe I did a little more – but you get the point).
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me uncomfortable. And I may have mumbled under my breath more than once about how I would have planned things “differently” (listen, I’m a work in progress).
But I handed it over. The weight once again got lighter. I was slowly freeing myself.
Yet, this is something I share with caution. Even now. When other women innocently ask me about my kid’s “summer plans”, I pause before saying, “actually I don’t really know, JP figured it all out”.
My brain can only hold so much is not really an excuse anyone is interested in. I see the confusion reflected back at me as I share my honest response.
Not knowing “it all”, planning “it all”, or doing “it all” is the cardinal sin we women don’t dare break. But I’m no longer playing in that game. I’ve set my “invisible weight” down. For good.
I share this with all of you today not because I want our partners to become the keepers of our calendars (although wouldn’t that be glorious?), but because little by little we ALL need to set our “invisible weight” DOWN.
Not to free ourselves – but to FREE EACH OTHER.
That is the beautiful season we are in right now. To give each other permission to rewrite our stories that no longer include these invisible loads we’ve been carrying for generations.
We like to believe that we have autonomy over our choices, over our identities. But in reality, we are so deeply affected by how we were raised, what we were taught, and what we see around us.
While we may not be able to change history, we can certainly recognize the role we’re all playing now in continuing to make our loads heavier.
And it starts with radical awareness that at ANY TIME YOU, ME, WE CAN set it down.
One by one, by setting down that invisible, heavy load, we free each other.