Are you surprised?! Mamas--I've got GROUNDBREAKING new analytic data to share with you. I think you'll want to be sitting down for this one.
... Sitting yet? OK, good. Here it is: New analysis from the Pew Research Center says that mothers feel more exhausted than fathers. I know, I know, I was shocked to read this info as well. A key takeaway from the study:
"While mothers and fathers are equally likely to find meaning in the time they spend with their children and in the workplace, when it comes to housework and leisure activities, mothers are more likely than fathers to feel what they do is very meaningful. At the same time, mothers feel more exhausted than fathers in all four of these realms."
Now listen, I am all for scientific research. I love to read studies, in fact I've written about several on BabyZone, from a baby's hearing skills while inside the womb (amazing!) to infants' ability to access and comprehend danger noises as young as nine months old (fascinating!). Research holds the key to many of life's mysteries. That said, forgive me for responding to this particular study with an astute and possibly not very mature, "Well, duh!"
We all know parenting is rich with joy and laughter and love that exceeds your wildest imagination... but it can also be exhausting beyond comprehension. My husband could easily win a Father of the Year award (seriously, I'm very lucky) and yet at the end of the day, I don't think he's as tired as I am. And I see it from all sides now, as up until seven months ago, I worked full-time and managed to keep everything afloat at home. Not very well, at times, but floating just the same.
When I'm having fun with my daughters, I'm tired. When I'm picking up my oldest from school and we're arguing about the fact that she wants ice cream, I'm tired. As I write this post and when I took the subway home from work each night, I am/was tired. When I go out solo with friends, I often have to gather every bit of strength I can muster because... I'M TIRED. It defines me as a mother just as much as the stretch marks on my stomach and the vacation-like feeling I get from going to the grocery store by myself. And yes, of course, I remember to take little moments to myself to rest. I try to go to bed early when I can. I do all of those things you're supposed to do to get that little bit of R&R in the midst of making lunches and pushing bums on swings at the playground. It doesn't change the fact that the all-encompassing role of mother, which comes with so many rewards, is veiled in a constant need for a nap.
So researchers, next time, how about discovering a way for moms to inject coffee into their eyeballs. Then you'll really have my attention.
- By Ellen Schmidt
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