Woman juggling multiple tasks all at once

Many years ago, when my husband and I took on the challenges of raising a family, I knew that life would become busier. There would be lots of cooking and cleaning and laundry, carpooling and parent-teacher meetings and assorted ‘stuff’, and I would have to learn to stretch a dollar a little further. I expected all this when I signed up. What I did not expect was that I would eventually morph into the reluctant dictator of a small, unruly nation.

“A benevolent dictatorship is a theoretical form of government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power over the state but is seen to do so for the benefit of the population as a whole.” (Wikipedia)  As a mother, think about your life. Ponder the myriad of things you, your family members, and the world around you, hold you personally responsible for. Ask yourself…

HAVE I BECOME THE RELUCTANT DICTATOR OF A SMALL, UNRULY NATION?  If one or more of these situations applies to your family, the answer is likely YES:

1.Look around your house. Is there an appliance or furniture item that you did not save for, shop for, and purchase?

Because in my house, I buy EVERYTHING except the fun stuff (aka video gaming systems and sports equipment). This explains why I seem more concerned than hubby when a swarm of 11-year-olds want to drink pomegranate juice while dancing around the sofa, or when a teenager takes our $200 Ninja blender to school for a fundraising “Smoothie Sale” and casually forgets to bring it home.

2. Think about family vacations. Are you responsible for planning every holiday?

And by ‘planning’ I mean… hours spent finding cheap airfare, hotel deals, and discount tickets; rooting through attics and closets for vacation essentials, buying and borrowing the things you can’t seem to find; and of course, putting arrangements are in place to keep the pets alive while you are gone.

This explains why I am a bit grumpy on the morning of departure when family members roll their eyes at my request for ‘help’ putting luggage in the car. It also explains why I am less-than-thrilled with camping and skiing, since these holiday ‘plans’ also include selecting the best pots and pans to take with me, and having a grocery list prepared so I can shop quickly when we reach our destination… my fellow vacationers become quite antsy when I take too long gathering the ingredients for cooking meals.

3. Ponder the things hubby and the kids (including those ‘kids’ who are now old enough to drive a car, drink alcohol, and vote) do around the house. Are you the director of all household tasks?

Do the other people in your house describe cleaning up after themselves as ‘helping out’? Are there any ‘chores’ performed in your house that were not assigned by you, are not monitored by you, and are not at least occasionally performed by you because it’s just easier.

4. Consider the outside world. Are you ultimately held accountable for the actions of all?

Over the years, I have been spoken to by school representatives about the clothing choices of my children and have been sent multiple notes and emails from teachers scolding me for homework they have forgotten to complete. I have endured multiple talks from my mother-in-law about things I should do to ensure that my husband (who owns his own company) sleeps more, eats more vegetables, and ‘deals with’ his bad back.

And, in a recent turn of events, I have been held responsible for my grown daughter’s procrastination and inability to reply to texts in a reasonable amount of time. (Both she and hubby feel these behaviours are rooted in her childhood and may have something to do with me not assigning her enough chores when she was young)

5. Are you afraid of what would happen if you ‘stepped down’ from office?

This was a big problem for Fidel Castro. Sure, there may have been a time (many, many, years ago) when I craved power and my ego fed on compliments about my cooking, my ‘lovely’ home, and my well-behaved children. But that was a million casseroles and PTA fundraisers ago. Now, what keeps me running is more the fear of what will happen if I stop.

I’ve gone away on business trips… and when I get back the crisper is still full of apples and there’s a stack of empty pizza boxes by the composter. I genuinely believe that my family members would develop scurvy if I left for more than a week.

I don’t know how any of us can be extricated from our all-encompassing responsibilities.  If I had even a vague idea, I would totally be writing a book on the subject instead of a blog post! Have done a few google searches using the keywords ‘benevolent dictatorship’. A lot of them seem to wind up assassinated or drummed out of power but I can’t see this happening to me. Am pretty sure there is no one else plotting to take on my position.

For now, I believe we mother-dictators have no choice but to continue working for the good of our citizens, and accepting both accolades and ‘blame’ with as much dignity as we can muster.  Oh… and we can drink wine… there is always wine!

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Author: Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli is an entrepreneur, marketer, content consultant, and author of “Making Words Work”. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to Kim’s popular newsletter. Every second Wednesday, she shares practical writing tips, timely insights, and resources to make your work easier and your content better. To learn more about Kim, visit her website.

10 thoughts

  1. One day I told my family that I was going to quit doing everything that they expected me to do. I made it clear that I was not on strike for better conditions. I said that the job of running everything was a nasty job and I did not want it any more. This resulted in my husband taking his dirty clothes to the laundry. My children wore their clothes inside out when the got dirty. Take out meals were brought in daily. The kids loved that. After a couple of weeks we ran out of toilet tissue. Nobody seemed to know where to buy this and I gave up and kept the mothering job for many more years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG, Kim. Now I’m a nervous wreck and I’ve only read about your responsibilities. I think there should be a special degree awarded to mothers who do it all and go unlauded. And, a special new virgin created to watch over each of you who are saints yourself.
    “Nuestra Señora de Demasiadas Tareas”––Our Lady of Too Many Tasks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear you, and I agree on every single point. As for #5: I was in the hospital, unscheduled, for 10 days. Since I was sick before I went into the hospital, the house, including the bathroom, had not been cleaned recently. When I returned after 10 days, the house (and the bathroom) had still not been cleaned – and worse yet, not one single person in my family had thought to change the sheets on my bed. I was so woozy I could barely stand, but I had to change those sheets before I could lie down. Annoyed the heck out of me. Lesson learned? If you’re a mother, don’t ever get sick.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Preaching to the choir sister! Once every 2-3 years I ‘go down’ with the flu. It has to be something involving vomit because I power through everything else. Anyway… I have actually had to send texts to hubby downstairs pleading for water, soup, etc. Otherwise, I am simply left up there on my own, listening to the sounds of my house falling apart but unable to do anything about it. Don’t get me wrong. They all love me… but they love the dog too… and I am pretty sure he would die of starvation or dehydration if I wasn’t around to fill those bowls.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I can totally relate….and we don’t even have children – just cats! For example, today I have stripped and made the bed (washed and dried all the bedding yesterday), cleaned the cat box, made lunch, went grocery shopping, washed, dried, folded and put away two loads of laundry, made dinner, emptied the dish washer, loaded the dishwasher, cleaned out the cat bowls, fed the cats, gathered the garbage throughout the house, disposed of said garbage and am now enjoying the last of the Denver Pittsburgh game….afterwards I will need to fold yet another load of *&^% laundry before retiring to bed to enjoy an episode of Downton Abbey. As for Ian, today he cleared the snow off the car, came with me to the grocery store and watched six plus hours of football from the comfort of the living-room sofa….I guess this would be somewhere around reason number 76 on Ian’s list of ‘why it’s good to be a man’. If we had kids, I’m pretty sure I’d lose my mind!!!!


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