There's been a lot of talk about emotional labor in the news lately, thanks to forthcoming author Gemma Hartley's viral essay on the topic. Hartley pointed out how maddening it is to be a woman and tasked with the responsibility of carrying the invisible weight of our family's worlds on our shoulders. From big picture stuff like doctor's appointments and giving medicine, to smaller things like knowing which bathroom is out of toilet paper and which kid has outgrown their clothes—it all falls on us. So, when the invisible burden of emotional labor was at long last revealed to the the public, moms all over the world let out a collective, "Finally!"
And then ... crickets.
Seriously. Nothing seems to be changing to unburden us of all this back-breaking emotional labor, and I'm honestly not convinced it will get better for us women anytime soon.
Don't get me wrong, I think the tide will turn and shift eventually and I can already see that my daughters aren't going to live life the way I've lived life. Just last week, my oldest daughter remarked that she wanted to get married so she would have someone to cook and take care of the kids for her (which I consider a total parenting win), but for us moms living in the thick of raising kids, working and trying to keep up on laundry, I'm just not sure I see a good way out of it.
My husband and I have had endless amounts of dizzying, around-in-circles conversations about the mental and emotional load that I carry as a mother. Instead of igniting any real change in our lives, those conversations just leave me more exhausted than ever. I can't fix emotional labor if I'm still busy raising awareness about it, right?
Going around and around over the subject has left me feeling like it's never going to happen.
Going around and around over the subject has left me feeling like it's never going to happen. I'm not sure if I will win the fight against emotional labor during my lifetime or if it's even possible within the social constructs we live in right now that seem to still be set up for a world to be run behind-the-scenes by women.
Although it can incredibly frustrating to live through it right now, the way I look at it is like this: We are the pioneers, the suffragettes of our generation, fighting to pave the way for a better future for our daughters. We might not be able to completely solve this problem right now in the middle of just trying to survive motherhood and marriage, but we are making a difference simply by starting the conversations with our partners and showing our girls that it doesn't have to be that way, i.e., "Daddy's doing the dishes tonight."
The road is long but we are still taking steps forward, whether it feels like it our not.
Hopefully, our children will live in a world where no woman will have to fight to be recognized for carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. We might not win the war in our lifetime, but our children, building off the bridges that we have worked so hard to construct, will be able to start life on a more even playing field.
That's something to keep fighting for—even when I'm shaking my head over being the one to buy toothpaste yet again.