Mom Cameron Poynter was having A DAY. Like so many moms, it often felt like she was juggling the world — groceries to buy, laundry to do, tantrums to quell, appointments to keep.
It was a million little things, but they all added up in a very real way. She was emotionally exhausted. And she knew she wasn’t alone in feeling this way. Poynter took to Facebook to give a much needed salute to her fellow moms-in-arms, knowing that a little appreciation can go a long way. “I am the keeper,” she began her post. “I am the keeper of schedules … I am the keeper of information … I am the keeper of solutions … I am the keeper of the peace”.
“Most of the time, the weight of these things I keep resembles the upper elements on the periodic table — lighter than air, buoying me with a sense of purpose.
But sometimes the weight of the things I keep pulls me down below the surface until I am kicking and struggling to break the surface and gasp for breath.”
“I see you. And I salute you,” she wrote to moms everywhere.
What Poynter brilliantly described here is a phenomenon known as “emotional labor.” Most women are all too familiar with the concept.
Emotional labor is the invisible work of absorbing other people’s stress, identifying and managing others’ feelings, and taking on all the responsibility of keeping relationships and families on track.
You can read her full post, which has gone viral, below:
This is different from the division of labor: Who takes out the garbage or does the dishes. It’s about who recognizes that those things need to be done in the first place and the mental space those tasks take up. It’s about who remembers that Susie doesn’t like mushrooms on her pizza but that Billy will freak out if there aren’t mushrooms. It’s about who has to remember to get a card and a gift for those three birthday parties coming up this weekend.
“Historically, women have been the primary caregivers for their children and while they now make up half of the work force, it takes a lot longer for cultural norms to adjust,” Poynter explains over e-mail.
“All of those historical norms are changing and truthfully nothing would make me happier than to have one or both of my boys grow up to be stay at home dads.”
Poynter says the reaction to her post, which has been shared close to 94,000 times, has been overwhelming.
“I have heard from hundreds of people — friends and strangers — who told me they desperately needed to hear someone say ‘I see you. What you do matters. You are not alone,'” she says.
Her message is inspiring, but maybe it’s time this kind of praise (or better yet, help) starts coming from the men, partners, and grown children who tend to benefit from all that work.