A brilliant illustrator and author recently depicted what the primary parent “mental load” is on a daily basis. While I do not live all of these depictions, I live many of them.
The mental load of rebuilding the health and well being of a child is as exhausting as teaching the newest tiny humans how to nurse. Oo doesn’t have hunger cues. (Common Celiac problem.) She also has low muscle tone in her core due to malnutrition, so it physically hurts her to sit upright for long periods of time. (This explains why she always asks to sit on our laps to eat.) She prefers to stand to eat, which also makes sense now that we have some answers.
When she gets hangry close to a meal, I spend a lot of mental energy encouraging healthy foods. I also need to be aware of her fiber intake for good digestive health. I also can’t offer her a thousand options, because she will have to navigate this world without them. And still during all of this great negotiation I have a hangry unreasonable tiny human, who is just mad. I spend more of the mental load keeping her calm enough to eat. I spend my own mental load navigating land mines.
I have to teach her to sit (aka stand) and eat food, again. I have to teach her that when her body feels angry, it’s because she is hungry. Then I have to tell her that only the foods in her lunchbox (when we are out) are available. I’m now spending a lot of my days talking about calm bodies. I spend a lot of my metal load keeping bodies calm, because car seat straps, and wet bathing suits are hard for an SPD tiny.
She has a physical next week, and we need a weight gain. She also had blood in her stool yesterday, and the GI nurse basically said welcome to Celiac. So, I’m learning, and it’s a lot of my mental load.
You can stop reading at any point, but apparently I have a lot of topics to cover.
I quit bedtime, again. This mental load is to huge for one person. I’m focusing on the healthiest foods, screen free living (although we went to the movies, failing) during oppressive humidity, running her new found energy, keeping her calm for camp at school camp (another new), and making sure her days are perfecto, while practicing all the great OT. #slideone parentening. I can’t do bedtime. So she currently gets to lay on my lap after teeth brushing and stories. She falls asleep in 7 minutes or less, I’m calling it a win.
She still remembers. She tells me everyday “I didn’t scream today.” I want to say sorry. I want to apologize for her feeling like complete garbage all of the time. I have already apologized for all the yelling. I worry about the impact of unhealthy first years. I worry about how our struggles will affect her future.
I walk a daily battle field desperately trying to figure out what is reasonable, and what is Celiac and SPD.
Oo proudly carried her own candy into the movies today. The poor teenager at the counter tried to stop us, and I just said she has Celiac. The teenager let us pass without issue. Then she had a meltdown about movie popcorn.
I challenge a world, the whole Catholic Church, and family that struggle with this reality so therefore dismiss it as untrue. As a result, I’m left with the mental load.