Parenting is Exhausting
Written by
Julie mertines
February 2020
Written by
Julie mertines
February 2020

I admit: when I sit down at my computer to imagine today's entry, and automatically typed Parenting is Exhausting, I thought, immediately, shouldn't every blog entry be titled thus. Parenting is exhausting, in its details, and repetitions. We all know this, intimately, it's the invisible element of our lives, it's even too boring to mention. It's the rising from bed, dressing quickly, opening the Campbell's soup-for-lunch into the waiting saucepan before even sticking the frozen waffle in the toaster, every morning, because a part of one's brain has been commandeered and is waiting patiently to do this, like all the charger cords that rest, plugged in, waiting for their cell phone or bluetooth or what have you, taking up energy all the while (though the environmentalists among us do remind us to take these cords from the wall when not in use, to save all that wasted energy). That's my brain, though, wasting energy as it waits with information to be used, almost automatically throughout the day, for all those events that we do without thinking, and which, in the end, make us so tired.

Shall I for now on title all my entries Parenting is Exhausting, with successive numbers?

In some very early writing I did on motherhood and parenting, I simply kept track of and then listed all the items I moved in the course of a day, breaking down all the acts of parenting into their elements. Think diapering: open the wipes box, open the drawer, remove a diaper, lift the plastic bottle of baby powder, squirt, place it back on the table, and so on. The idea was to quantify we were so tired, by bringing back to the fore of consciousness the many acts we do unconsciously.

At various times in my eight and a half years of being a parent, I have taken my to-do lists, those messy scrap pages filled with things that will never be crossed off, and placed them in the box of papers that only occasionally becomes a scrap book. (Note to casual homemakers like myself: it's fine to have a box. You don't have to scrapbook. It's not necessary, really. My mom and dad have a big old cardboard box of my childhood photos, and you know what, it's fun to rifle through it, picking up random photos every so often. You don't have to scrapbook unless you like to, want to, and can it without feeling stress. Really.) These to-do pages, as much as anything, bring back to me the texture of my days: birthday presents to be bought, milk and groceries to procure, phone calls to doctors, dentists and the reminder to call around to find a sports camp that has a decent number of girls enrolled: these are the thread of my days, the small labors that stitch my family life together. They are also what makes me tired, and lest I forget the connection--that family life takes time and it doesn't just happen and that's why I'm so tired at the end of the day--I keep a to-do list every so often, tuck it away for memory's sake.

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