Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

“I need to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home. Better get two. It’s amazing how fast the kids go through that stuff. I suppose that’s what growing kids do, though. That reminds me, they are overdue for their annual exams . . . I have to fold the mountain of laundry on the sofa tonight after dinner. Wait, no, it’s bath night, and we have to finish that science project. Do we have glue? I think we do. Maybe. Better add it to the grocery list . . . I need to start a grocery list. I can probably remember those two things—milk and glue, milk and glue, milk and glue. Maybe I better just write it on the back of this receipt. I can go to the store this weekend when the kids are visiting grandma. I still need to pack their bags. I can’t forget to send their allergy medicine. I wonder if there’s enough left to get them through the weekend? I’ll just grab another bottle while I’m at the store. I should probably get something for dinner, too. Spaghetti, maybe? It’s easy. But, I’m sick of spaghetti. I’ll just get McDonald’s on the way home? I’ll get the apple slices instead of fries—healthier, right? That will free up a little time to fold the laundry. Better toss another load in while I’m at it . . . ”

These are the thoughts that chase a mother through her day. The small voice that is ever-present in the back of her mind. It begs answers to questions, prompts reminders, and holds tidbits of information about soccer schedules and grocery lists. Some have called this the mental load, invisible to everyone, but heavy in its weight of expectation—and responsibility.

Its existence has been challenged by nay-sayers, who believe the mental load of motherhood is self-imposed. To that I say, maybe so. We are natural providers, caretakers, and protectors. It’s innate to our role. For that reason, most of us assume these responsibilities without even realizing it. One small thing here, another there, and before long our minds are filled with a million little things. Sometimes we worry, sometimes we ruminate, and sometimes we forget.

Midnight laundry, last-minute party favors, and overdue appointments with the pediatrician hold steady chatter in a mother’s mind. We place the needs of others above our own, leaving little time for ourselves, little time for our minds to rest. Evenings are spent making meals, helping with homework, and giving baths. We are always planning, and checking items off the ever-growing list in our minds.

We shoulder the weight of the little things not because we have to, but because we want to. Although this can be cumbersome, we don’t get angry or discouraged, but we are often exhausted. No one hears the whispers but us. No one feels the weight but us. This is why we are exhausted. This is why we can be fragile. We aren’t martyrs or control freaks, we just want the absolute best for the ones we love. So, we carry on long after our bodies tell us to rest, completing tasks and planning for what’s to come.

We aren’t too proud to ask for help when we need it, but the mental load isn’t something we can hand off when it becomes overwhelming. It doesn’t work like that. We will gladly share the tasks and responsibilities of parenthood, but the chatter of the mental load always remains, even if only as a whisper. Because mothers are the gatekeepers. We are the last line of assurance that everyone has what they need. We see what’s missing, even when no one else does—it’s our gift. So, we carry this load out of love, because we care deeply.

And we always will. 

You might also like:

To the Tired Mom in the Middle of the Night

I’ll Hold You Instead

But Mommy, You Were Too Busy

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here! 

We shoulder the weight of the little things not because we have to, but because we want to.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jorrie Varney

Jorrie is a registered nurse and mother of two. She writes about the reality and insanity of motherhood on her blog http://www.closetoclassy.com/. Jorrie loves to laugh and snuggle her babies as often as she can. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading

I Love You Even When I Say I Don’t

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter touch foreheads

“I love you even when I say I don’t.” These words came out of nowhere from my 5-year-old. I was standing in the bathroom with her (we still don’t like to go potty without mommy standing right there), and she wouldn’t look at me while talking to me. You see, my 5-year-old and I have been in more spouts than ever before. She’s found this new attitude in her first couple months of kindergarten, coming home with new phrases including, “No, I don’t want to–you do it.” It hurts my heart, makes me frustrated, and leaves me asking myself where...

Keep Reading

Big Questions at Bedtime Don’t Require Perfect Answers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child at bedtime

Last night at bedtime, my son asked why everyone has to die one day. The thought of my sweet 7-year-old grappling with the weight of such a question hurt my heart. He looked so small tucked under a fleece blanket, clutching his favorite stuffed panda. How could the same little boy who just started second grade wearing a space backpack stuffed with bright, wide-ruled notebooks ask such a thing?  Perhaps my children are more aware of the inevitability of death than other kids their age due to the passing of various family pets over the past few years, or perhaps...

Keep Reading

If Someone Needs a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Three kids with backpacks, color photo

“If someone needs a friend, be a friend” it’s the running joke in our family. My husband will say the phrase to our four kids when discussing certain life situations in a lovingly mocking type way. They’ll all look at me and chuckle. I giggle a little myself at the corniness of it. But I always add, “It’s true.” It’s a phrase I’ve used more times than I can count. To teach them all to be includers—the kind of kids who look for the kid having a bad day and seek to brighten it, the kind of kids who stand...

Keep Reading