By Hannah Schenker
“I am the keeper” it begins.
“I am the keeper of schedules. Of practices, games, and lessons. Of projects, parties, and dinners. Of appointments and homework assignments.”
There is no doubt that parenting is a huge job, filled with endless and ongoing work: feeding, bathing, cleaning, organising. But beneath that, beneath all the things that need to happen, is the mental management. Knowing what needs to happen, when, and to whom. Typically it’s the mother who is unwittingly and unconsciously assigned all of these invisible tasks and it is a load that can be brutally exhausting, as one mama explored in her Facebook post. Cameron Reeves Poynter, (LuckyOrangePants) calls it being “the keeper”.
“I am the keeper of information,” she continues. “Who needs food 5 minutes before a meltdown occurs and who needs space when he gets angry. Whether there are clean clothes, whether bills are paid, and whether we are out of milk.”
“I am the keeper of solutions. Of bandaids and sewing kits and snacks in my purse. But also of emotional balms and metaphorical security blankets.”
“I am the keeper of preferences. Of likes and dislikes. Of nightly rituals and food aversions.”
Does this sound familiar? Of course it is not always the mothers who carry the weight of all these invisible tasks, but it does tend to go with being a woman and a mother. Remembering and anticipating all the things that will make someone else’s life run smoothly, that they will feel loved, that their needs will be met.
Poynter acknowledges that she penned the post in a moment of self-doubt about her mothering. “I started to think about the weight of all the information ― tangible and amorphous ― we keep for the people we love,” she told HuffPost. “My husband and boys are incredibly loving and thoughtful human beings and they do a great job of recognizing that most of the time. But sometimes we need to hear it.”
It can feel like a thankless job – precisely because they are “invisible, intangible” tasks. “They go unnoticed and unacknowledged until they are missed,” she says, which many will be able to relate to. “They are not graded or peer reviewed or ruled on by a court. And sometimes they are taken for granted.”
She finishes by telling the other “keepers” out there that she sees what they are carrying, she acknowledges it.
“I know the invisible work you do, which doesn’t come with a pay check or sick leave, is what makes the world go round.”
“I see you.”
“And I salute you.”