Homeadults with learning disabilitiesOverdoing it: The American Way

Today, I tried mowing the lawn.

Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a huge deal, but between allergies, fighting a respiratory bug my husband brought home, the push lawn mower and muggy conditions, my body just wasn’t having it.

Now, I’m sitting here with a pounding headache, wrist braces and a pile of work that still needs to be done. I couldn’t finish the lawn, either. Maybe tomorrow.

Why do we seem so hard wired to over-do it? Even as I type this entry, attempting to ignore the dyslexic mistakes that keep popping up, I want nothing more than to indulge my sweet tabby with cuddles and a nap. I know that won’t happen until I finish what I wanted to do today, if then.

She’ll probably want to play at that point, anyway. Or maybe I’ll drag the vacuum around for a while.

I think a lot of this comes down to conditioning. Mainstream American culture in particular has become more factory minded when it comes to people. If you’re not producing at 100% all of the time, you’re not worthy of support.

You can easily take it a step further, because income is highly regarded in this world, too. If you’re not producing at 100% all of the time, and getting paid for it, you’re even less of respect than someone who gets a huge salary.

Spouses who stay home to care for children get a lot of this attitude thrown at them, especially if their kids are neurodiverse. Since it’s still primarily the moms who do this, that’s who I’ll refer to.

Based on my observations, here’s an incomplete list of what a mom of a neurodiverse child does on a regular basis for that child:

  • Wrestles with the school for proper IEP development and incorporation
  • Researches how to best help their kids live with the less pleasant side of being neurodiverse, whether it’s sensory, memory issues, procedural, etc.
  • Finds and implements ways to help their kids find and nurture their unique strengths
  • Transports kids to/from appointments, activities, play dates, and school
  • Makes sure their kids are getting an adequate diet and exercise to stay healthy while accommodating sensory issues in progress
  • Watches for symptoms in case of misdiagnosis, co-morbidity, complications or mental health issues
  • Helps with homework and projects, without actually doing it for them

And there’s much more, especially if household operations (including budgeting), family diet and holiday responsibilities fall on her shoulders as well.

Parents don’t get paid in money for the work of raising kids, and when they do have a job to help pay the bills, they still need to figure out how to do all of this without their out of the home work suffering.

If those who equate worth with money had to do half of this unpaid work, I bet their attitudes would change right away.

I can speak with authority about living as a woman with LD and invisible chronic conditions.

Because I use so much more energy in doing some things that others find easy, I can’t keep a spotless home, fantastic garden and look perfect while doing it without sacrificing either my income, my health, my passion or all three.

Yet, I still feel bad about not doing those things, sometimes.

I’ve gotten good at prioritizing the management of my personal health, work from home, and blog operation. Housework and gender norms take a back seat to those priorities. The dust bunnies love it.

There’s still pressure to do it all. My husband offers some support, but there are days where I feel as if I’m drowning in stress.

This headache is making it way too hard to focus. Let’s take a break for another cute kitty picture.

For the record, that’s a chair she’s curled up in. We’re no longer allowed to use it unless she’s there with us.

I think my situation goes to show that no one is immune from those cultural pressures. Even though I know rest is essential to health, especially when there are other things going on, I’m still resisting it.

Part of the problem is the complete lack of systemic support available. There’s a very real fear of homelessness and bankruptcy. There’s the fear of severe illness and how to pay for life saving treatment, especially when you aren’t already well to do.

When income is dramatically reduced or medical bills mount, it’s little wonder that so many of us have the urge to work ourselves to death. When there’s so few supports available for even able bodied people who fall on hard times, the pressure is multiplied for people with even mild neurodiversities, disabilities or chronic conditions.

As for right now, I guess it’s time to move on to the next item of my to-do list.

At least this one should be fun: a page dedicated to #AbilityChat, which is due to start tomorrow!

Last minute? Woops.

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