Finally, all three sons in one room. It’s been months. The deep laughter and humorous barbs make me smile. How did we FINALLY get to the place I’d always pined for? When did the “Please, grow up!” statement become reality? When did the maturity hit? I’m perplexed because we didn’t change anything- we just kept on keeping on. And I prayed ceaselessly for years. I wanted so badly to be a good mother and see them to adulthood. I also wanted them to eventually be friends. Had God noticed my MENTAL LOAD?
Recently, a coworker introduced me to the term “mental load.” It’s when a person makes mental notes of things or people needing attention. This certainly captures the hurricane swirling inside my head at any given moment. It’s the “to dos” that are unrecognized by other members of the unit. It could be as small as future appointments to make, mental grocery lists, emotional concerns about another, upcoming birthdays/events, or repairs needed to a paint job. Apparently, I do too much of this. However, it is real and appears women carry this load most.
My husband says I worry too much and that I’m going to have a heart attack. Well, I haven’t had one yet! What he calls worry, I call concern. I’m hyper aware of others and their perceived needs. Perceived, of course, because I have yet to master mind reading. Maybe my personality type makes me overly empathetic. But, hey, I could be a sociopath and that’s not good either. And I’m the one noticing tiny details and nuances. Maybe we are a perfect match? I don’t know but I would love to shut off the perpetual “to dos” in my head.
Seeing all three sons sitting (!) at the table together today chatting is something that started occurring only recently. For some reason, they interacted in passing fragments for two decades or were in a pile on the floor. Now, three humans with albeit humorous words have taken over and I love, love it!
My mental load might ease up in one area with this newfound pleasure but takes over like a V8 engine when it comes to their relationships and future plans. Peace Corps, anyone? Cross country relocations? Can I get an amen? Mamas will always be concerned with details of their childrens’ lives no matter how many times we hear, “It’s really none of your business.” Haha, go ahead, try to make me disinterested. But please, for the love of God, do not stress me out!
There have rarely been times when I have been totally and completely blindsided by my offspring. Since I had become so conditioned to strategize, I always felt the best possible outcome would ensue with the least amount of negativity. I became so accustomed to this mindset, I literally divided my day into quadrants- morning, afternoon, evening, and night. I micro -managed each detail so I might feel the tiniest bit in control.
It was farcical to be so type “A” when I lived a perpetual play date (triplet boys) that could go wrong at any second. Sure, I could plan but something was always bound to pop up.
One such afternoon, the children were all together at a friends’ house. They were having a fun time playing and there were about 5 of them. Our girls were in charge since they had reached babysitting age and could easily access us moms who were two blocks away.
It was a welcome break to see friends myself and get to visit. We were at a local tapas and wine store sipping and chatting when our cell phones began blowing up. Apparently, one son had gone upstairs to hang out and decided it would be fun to play on the phone. This resulted in cop cars WITH BLUE LIGHTS FLASHING to dash to their house assuming there was an emergency. One son had curiously pushed “911-111-1111” on the phone just to see what would happen. The cops asked where the parents were and they told them, “At the wine store drinking wine.”
Not only did our friends get highly embarrassed that cop cars pulled into their Main Street house for the world’s speculation, but we moms felt no parenting awards were coming our way either.
One morning, one of our sons told us he was too sick to go to school. Knowing there was no immediate sign of illness, I decided to take him to the pediatrician to squelch any lingering questions of the contrary. We saw the doctor who gave him a clean bill of health and a direct pass back to school. (When you have 4, you have to be creative to avoid future endeavors.). But being the softie parent that I was, I decided to ease the pain of returning him straight to school by detouring through the local Sonic. In the drive thru, he ordered and we could audibly make out sniffles and a crackling voice through the speaker. When we arrived to the window to pay, the worker had red eyes from obvious crying. I asked her what was wrong. She said her family member was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and had a short time left to live. Eyeing our son, I said that we would pray for her and her family member and that we were so sorry for her bad news. She thanked us and we waited for his order. Once we were alone, I remarked to him how important it was that no matter where he was or what he was doing, he needed to be ready for God’s call to intercede and pray for people. Without missing a beat, he turned to me and asked, “Do you think they need any prayer at Burger King?”
My husband told me when our boys were little that we were not glass vase people. What he meant was that we cannot decorate with anything other that leather, cement or wood. When I put glass anything out as decor, the over/under on it was maybe 3 days. I have found lamps with cracks, vessels in shatters and one interesting item was the picture frame with photo minus all glass. That was easily unnoticeable for a few weeks. Occasionally, the odd item would go missing and I would ask about it and get the most blank expressions from my family.
When our triplet boys were 2 years old, they had nap time. It should have been called “what can we collectively accomplish to blow mom’s mind time,” however. I had their 3 cribs lined up but apart and I would shut the door. Thinking they were apart and couldn’t bother one another, I went to lie down too. What I never could have anticipated was them rocking and rolling their cribs across the floor until they touched so they could all flip into one crib. I heard a loud crash and ran into the room only to find the curtains and all hardware ripped out of the wall piled on the floor. They just looked at me like, “What happened?” Those angelic, little faces were as surprised as I was.
Financially, we’ve had a flat screen punched after a Wii gone wrong game, a chandelier busted from indoor football and the most expensive double paned, window replaced. Those are just items I can remember!
To this day, when I am shopping for our home I try to anticipate the reality of living with whatever it is. It may be beautiful or interesting, but if it’s not durable, it doesn’t make it through the door.
If you, like me, despise the above saying, then you will easily understand me. I absolutely believe there IS a higher power and have come to know him as Jesus. Yes, He most certainly WILL give you more than you can handle. It’s His means to draw you closer. It’s not to disregard your surely, evolved abilities, but to salvage those in overwhelming, unbearable circumstances. I learned this tough lesson when I, Katie, Miss do-it-all, over-achiever, was given natural, identical triplets 3 months after my mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s and while I was raising a 1 year old. My sister said God did this to get my attention because that was the only way. I beg to differ. I think God did this to bless my husband and me and to teach us. Now there has been a cost: loss of prior beliefs, less invitations and others, but they pale in comparison to the life lessons we’ve gained. Maybe you have a similar story from a different perspective. Maybe you were blessed with a special needs child (greatest nod from God I can imagine) or you have endured a trial that has left you more aware of what really matters. Maybe you lost something that opened your eyes to something greater. I don’t know, but I do believe we all can learn from and gain perspective from one another. That is why I decided to do this blog that many friends say might help someone else.