My Take on Emotional Work

Confession time. When I ran yesterday’s post with my favorite links, there was one I didn’t share. It’s this, via Shutterbean (best lists on the Internet, IMO), about emotional (or mental) work.


Ah, there it is again. We’ve seen it before in this post, and this book (which I wrote about here and Everyday Reading just posted about here). Lemon Stripes just ran a post on emotional work today, too, which I found just before I posted this! Everyone is talking about it. What many women have been feeling bogged down by for so long finally has a NAME. And if it has a name then it helps us start having more productive conversations with the people we need to talk to about it. We do a lot of emotional work. Here is some of mine. (Please read this as a statement of facts, not as complaints.)



In our household, I

  • Respond to invitations
  • Make sure we visit each of our families
  • Make the travel arrangements to make that happen
  • Order all supplies for the house (cleaning products, diapers, lightbulbs, lawn bags, batteries, etc. And there is so much etc.)
  • Meal plan
  • Grocery shop
  • Go through the mail and pay all the bills
  • Pick up and dropping off the dry cleaning
  • Do the laundry when the hamper is full, when the towels start to smell, or when I can’t remember that last time I changed the sheets
  • Schedule doctors appointments (yes, for all 3 of us)
  • Buy clothes (yes, for all 3 of us)
  • Make sure our cars have their oil changed, and get serviced when need be

Here is one thing. I am no one’s paid employee. I am a stay at home mom, and often the one closest in proximity to all these tasks. That doesn’t make any of them any more fun or exciting, but it does often make me the default person when it comes to executing.

But here is the other thing. I do a LOT of these tasks because I’d rather do them my way. I read and loved this from Erin Loechner earlier in the year.  Erin’s post is about what we’re doing for ourselves and ourselves alone. Because here’s where this all gets tricky. You or I could absolutely delegate some of our mental work. But we’d have to be a billion percent willing to let it go. Let it go. Turn away and slam the door. The tasks we delegate would not be done the same way we would do them. Nor would they be done on our timelines. Because if we’re truly giving them up, we’re no longer talking about ourselves anymore.

Dear readers, this feels like a lot of rambling. I guess what I’m saying is that I do like the subject matter these posts have brought to light. But I don’t like all these blog posts being like, hey ladies, isn’t THIS exactly how you feel? Are YOU managing all the mental work in your house? You should probably yell at your spouse tonight. (Okay, that last part is more implied.) Read the posts for yourselves. Think deeply and critically about the way your household runs. And then make choices for yourself.

IMPORTANT PS – The very first person who ever introduced me to glimmers of this concept was Gretchen Rubin, in a book I love beyond most others, The Happiness Project. Gretchen is vehemently against nagging. She’s got lots to say about the topic here, here, and here.

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