Task master A.K.A the bitch

I hold my phone to my ear. It rings and rings before my husband picks up.

“Hey, what’s up?” he asks.

“Did you ask your driver about driving us Sunday?”

“No, not yet, forgot.”

I scrunch up my face and hold my breath. “You’ve been with him all day.”

“I know, I just forgot.”

“Mmmhmm, mmhmm, but it’s just a few days away.”

“I know, I’ve just been busy today.”

“Right, so have I.”

“I’ll ask, don’t worry about it.”

I sigh, taking a beat. “Fine. What about that therapist? Did you email him yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Okay, but I asked you a couple of days ago.”

“I know, just forgot, been busy.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose. “Right, same here,” I hiss.

It’s astounding to me how much information swooshes through my mind at any given moment. Lines rolling along, sheets of tasks pinned and trundling by. I reach out, yanking several off, prioritize and accomplish in order.

Here’s the obligatory note that I love my husband dearly. He’s a good guy, great guy. Wonderful dad. This isn’t a comment on his personality or soul, but he’s innate privilege deeply programmed in him like all men.

I already notice it in my four-year-old and nine-year-old boys. The inability, the refusal, I don’t really know, to do their share, to multi-task. Maybe it’s because they all know, assume, that I will take care of everything.

I’m constantly hounded by tasks and reminders and goals and worries. Most other mom’s I know feel the same. Whether we work or not, our days are spent tackling agendas for multiple people.

We are CEOs of a conglomerate. We are called tasks-masters at best, control freaks at worst, bitches at even worse.

But, god forbid, if we stop for a single minute, what do you think happens? Really, have you ever observed?

But okay, sure, we are bitches.

In my experience, dads don’t seem to juggle the future the way we do. They focus on individual items, content to leave the future for another day. Likely, many dads are snug in the assurance that a partner is up the path a bit, smoothing the way.

And we do, pave the road. Perhaps it’s my fault? Sure, sure, sure, I’m an up-tight, frigid bitch, which people have called me before. Not my husband; never my husband. But yes, I’ve been told to let my husband’s balls go.

Lovely, I know.

A fellow mom and I chat about our day. We laugh about the notes app on our phones, thanking god for iReminders and iCalendars, and where would we be without them? As we speak, her phone chimes, reminding her of a task. I chuckle as I double check my notes for the day.

Literally never heard two dads’ bond over a calendar.

I’ve been consumed the last couple of months with figuring out transportation to and from school for my kids and preparing for my older son’s IEP meeting. I’ve been swallowed by research and appointments and conversations about said meeting. 

Betwixt it all, I manage work deadlines.

Sprinkled here and there, I try to write, meeting personal deadlines. Most days, I stare at my laptop, demanding words to appear. Most days, I don’t write at all.

And yes, if I ask, my husband will take on some of the tasks. But I have to ask. It’s assumed that I, that all moms’, will do it; that we’ve got it. Sometimes, we need a fucking break without asking.

For a hot second, I go on strike, refusing to do anything. Two days in, nestled amidst piles of laundry, crumbs on the floor, dishes stacked in the sink, shoes mounted by the door and an unidentified film coating the kitchen chairs, I can’t. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

I. Just. Can’t…

My mind whirs through sleepless nights. My body slugs through hectic days.

“Can. You. Just. Ask. The. Person. You’re. Sitting. Next. To. A. Question?” I ask him on the phone. My words are steady but annunciated.

I hang up. Standing, I close my eyes, taking deep breaths. My eyes snap open and I whip my yoga mat from its corner. Pulling up a yoga channel on YouTube, I forget about the frayed edges of my mind and the mound of tasks pushing against my closed bedroom door, waiting to crash over me the minute I bow my head and say, “Namaste.”

By Imperfection

Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter is a mom and writer from Omaha, Nebraska but recently relocated to Urbandale, IA. When she’s not chasing children, picking up messes or reorganizing the house, she enjoys yoga or reading to relax. In her spare time (A.K.A. her dreams) she’s a Broadway star. Kuenning-Pollpeter is a freelance marketer during the day, a creative writer at night. Her work has appeared in the Brevity blog, The Omaha World Herald, 13th Floor, Misbehaving Nebraskans, Hippocampus, Emerging Nebraska Writers and Random Sample Review. She has her BFA and MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her essay “The Body” was a McKenna Fellowship finalist, and her essay “Imperfection” was a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee. She is blind and writes frequently about disability. She’s working on a memoir about the disabled feminine experience. With the kids though, expect it in stores in about a decade.

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