Sharing the Mental Load with Friends

More mindf*cks of motherhood

Nina Renata Aron

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

For a few weeks, one of my best friends is staying with us. She flew here from the east coast with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and after a year of semi-isolation, their energy in the house feels like a gift. They’re sleeping in my daughter’s room and my daughter is sleeping in my room. “It’s like we’re having a sleepover every night,” mine told me, as she stuck a bookmark in her copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret the other night. It feels like nature really is healing, as the internet would say.

But with a toddler in the house, the labor of motherhood is more visible. My kids are now 12 and 9 and they need me much differently and (some days) much less than they used to. The presence of a two year old reminds me of how it used to be: the cuteness and also the constancy, the snacks and naps, mini-emotional storms and tiny toys, the long stretch of afternoon during which one must submit to a certain ennui, cycling through games and songs. All day long, this precocious child makes us laugh, but the tiredness at the end of the day is bone deep. Yesterday, my friend’s daughter helped me bake, standing on a stool beside me in the kitchen, giggling as she slapped the bread, dough and I had a sudden thought.

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Nina Renata Aron

Author of Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love. Work in NYT, New Republic, the Guardian, Jezebel, and more.