Why Mental and Emotional Labor is Exhausting Modern Moms with Erica Djossa, MA


00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. Today I get to share a conversation with you about why mental and emotional labor is exhausting modern moms. I got to hang out with my friend Erica Djossa. She's the CEO and founder of Momwell and a registered psychotherapist specializing in maternal mental health with over a decade of experience. As a mom of three rambunctious young boys, Erica understands first -hand the challenges of motherhood. Perfectionism, pressure, and loss of identity fueled her battle with postpartum depression, and she realized how difficult it is to seek care. She founded Momwell to set a standard of care for providers and has ensured mom -centered, specialized mental health support at any stage of motherhood. Erica has been featured in media publications including Time Magazine, USA Today, the Toronto star, Breakfast Television, and Scary Mommy. You can find more information about her company, Momwell, at momwell.com. Also, I highly recommend following them on Instagram, and she has a dope podcast that I am going to be on. So you can head over there and check out her podcast and her Instagram and her website all through Momwell. I loved hanging out with Erica, and since this episode, we have actually become friends and exchanged numbers and get to text and chat and it was one of those like connections where it just, I was like she gets it. And it's so helpful to have conversations with people who are in it and get it and aren't like you know rose -colored glasses looking back,  like my mom recently we were having this conversation and then she was like yeah I just like it didn't feel like that when we were in it or you know just like raising three boys who were at that point, gosh, four, two, and a baby, and then I came along and my little brother, right? And it just like the rose -colored glasses piece for me can feel really hard when I'm talking to people who aren't in it anymore and are looking back and being able to chat with folks about what it looks like for modern parents now and what we can do about it is so helpful. Erica has an incredible book on this as well called Releasing the Mother Load, How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More. You can snag that bad boy wherever books are sold. It is out now. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:02:38    Alyssa

Hey there, I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a master's degree in early childhood education and co creator of the collaborative emotion processing method. I'm I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:02:58    Erica

Did I see, wait, was it Busy Toddler's husband? Did he just randomly crash your house for the eclipse or something? I was laughing at her stories. 


00:03:07    Alyssa



00:03:07    Erica



00:03:08    Alyssa

Susie and I have been friends for a while and I just got a text from her that was like, so, he was supposed to go to Texas for it-- 


00:03:15    Erica

And it was supposed to be cloudy, I'm in Toronto. It was so miserable. Everyone came to Niagara Falls like flew in and it was cloud covered. It was so bad. 


00:03:23    Alyssa

The worst. And it's like hilarious because I'm in Burlington, Vermont, and we are, we never have sun. And so we were like, wild that we're the sunny place. But yeah, I got a text from Susie that was like, so any chance Chuck could, she proposed, she was like, can he just like watch the eclipse from wherever you're going to be or from your house or whatever? And I was like, yeah, also, does he need a place to stay? And she's like, no, he can sleep in his rental car. And I was like, no, no..


00:03:52    Erica

That's how committed he was, though. I love that. 


00:03:54    Alyssa



00:03:55    Erica

So funny. 


00:03:56    Alyssa

Oh, my God. So good. Yeah. Hilarious. One of my book tour stops was in Seattle, and she did the live Q &A with me there. 


00:04:05    Erica

So fun. 


00:04:06    Alyssa

So sweet. 


00:04:06    Erica

She's so great. Yeah. 


00:04:07    Alyssa

You're in Toronto. Are you from Toronto? 


00:04:10    Erica

Yeah. The area, surrounding area. Yeah. 


00:04:12    Alyssa

Sure. So I'm from Western New York. So like south of Buffalo. 


00:04:17    Erica

Very cool. 


00:04:18    Alyssa



00:04:18    Erica

So where we always are crossing the border for all, well, now we get our own black Friday deals apparently, but we never used to, so we would go bring back trunks full of stuff. 


00:04:27    Alyssa

Sure. Sure. We would go up to Toronto and see, um, grew up in a house, all those Yankees fans, New York Yankees for baseball. And so we would go to Blue Jays, Yankees games, and then do like a little Toronto stay. 


00:04:41    Erica

I feel like you're more Torontonian than I am. I don't even know if I've been to a Blue Jays game. I'm so bad. 


00:04:47    Alyssa



00:04:48    Erica

You probably have experienced Toronto more than I have then. 


00:04:51    Alyssa

That's so funny. I lived in New York City for a couple of years and similarly, I feel like you're not usually a tourist in your own city. And so the only time I did anything touristy was when people would come to town to visit. And I'm like, oh, yeah, no, I've never been to that. Sure. Let's do it. 


00:05:12    Erica

And with the kids too, I find they want to like know more or they want to poke around. So we do more of that, like the CN Tower. I've been there once maybe in my life and it's usually the places you avoid because they're so busy, right? 


00:05:23    Alyssa



00:05:24    Erica

But the kids are pushing us to go. 


00:05:26    Alyssa

Yeah. It's good. They get us out of the house. 


00:05:28    Erica

I know. What would we do without them like wanting us to adventure? 


00:05:33    Alyssa

How old are your boys? 


00:05:35    Erica

Yeah. So they are just turned nine. My middle one is seven and my youngest is five and a half, almost six. So, they were like three and a half and under, all three of them. How about yours? 


00:05:45    Alyssa

Yeah. Wow. I have a just turned three -year -old and four -month -old. 


00:05:52    Erica



00:05:53    Alyssa

I think I'm tapping out from here. I think this feels good. 


00:05:56    Erica

Boys, girls mixture? 


00:05:58    Alyssa

Yeah. My first one's a boy and then I have a little girl, Sage and Mila. 


00:06:04    Erica

Oh, nice. 


00:06:06    Alyssa

They're sweet. It was one of those things that was interesting, like I'm one of five kids and I, yeah, a lot of us, and I didn't know, I love babies. I love the newborn stage, I like soak it up. And I didn't know if I'd hit a point where I'm like, oh, I feel done. You know, like some people say like, yeah, you just feel it or whatever. And I have some people in my life who are like, no, I never felt it, but we made this decision just for our family, lifestyle, whatever. Mila was born and like days after she was born, I was like, I feel done. Like this feels like complete. And so far that feeling just hasn't gone away and not even a like, I'm at capacity, like I don't want to do this again. Just like a feeling of like, this feels like our family. 


00:06:55    Erica

It's nice that you had that sort of like certainty. A lot of people I work with don't and it's a lot of like having to go through the critical thinking and pros and cons to find some, like, acceptance and resolve with wherever they land, right? So, I had two boys and my husband comes from a family of three siblings. I come from a family of two, so it's like we could have another one, we could not. I know with my luck it's gonna be all boys, like, I'm destined to raise boys at this point, you know. And our little one kind of, like, snuck in there and we had three boys and I knew, like, from the time I was pregnant with the third, like, whatever is happening here, this is it, like, we're done. And it's wild. Three mom life is, I don't even know. We are definitely like a club of people who are going through the same traumatic experience. 


00:07:45    Alyssa

Totally, just forever pulled. 


00:07:47    Erica

Yeah, no, it's getting easier as they're older, but they were also close in age also, which impacts how insane it was, but. 


00:07:55    Alyssa

The early years are so physical. 


00:07:57    Erica

Oh man, and like the sleep deprivation and like the constantly being touched and needed for all the things, right? Like all the things, I like, I pretty much breastfed for six years straight, pretty much. Like I was breastfeeding my middle one while I was pregnant with my third and it just like, it just went forever. So then like my littlest one decided to wean on his own and I was like, oh, it was 16 months. Like we were, it was, it was fine. 


00:08:21    Alyssa

But I want it to be my choice. 


00:08:23    Erica

I know, but like, I wanted to like be prepared for this moment. 


00:08:27    Alyssa

A hundred percent. Yeah, at this point. So we had a couple of miscarriages before Sage, and so I have been pregnant or nursing save for February of last year since December 2019. 


00:08:43    Erica



00:08:44    Alyssa

It's nuts. 


00:08:45    Erica

What a journey, hey? Like, I know.  


00:08:48    Alyssa

I'm like, you know what, body? Thanks for hanging in with me. What a wild ride. Yeah. That's bonkers. That is bonkers. I have been thinking a lot as I was getting ready for this interview of like the mental load and specifically for me as a nursing parent and a parent who carried our babies and just like how it's what it looked like with one and how it shifted with two and feel like I didn't just double the mental load with two it feels like it like quadrupled somehow, 


00:09:26    Erica

Like exponentially somehow. Yeah. 


00:09:28    Alyssa

What is that math? But we I'm so jazzed to get to chat about it today because it's things where like, we have had to continue to come back to the drawing table. And I don't know, it felt easier to have a lot of these conversations with my husband when there was one and it just like the division felt clearer of like, yeah, these are things I can do that only my body's doing and these are things he could do and just dividing things up and now I'm like, oh, mostly the baby stuff is me. She wants me, she's nursing with me, a lot of that feels on me and then I also have this of like, but I also want to be involved in my three -year -old's life, you know? And it just, I started to realize like, oh, this doesn't feel even or balanced or always good for me. 


00:10:30    Erica

Yeah. This will be so great for us to dig into. And then, cause also then there's like the guilt, there's the, like the adjustment for your older kid. Like there's so much that comes up there, like, and the emotional sort of load you carry, sort of anticipating their emotional, social needs, like, there's just so much there. And I remember those feelings too, like, every time we brought somebody new into the family, and yeah, there's lots there to dig into. That'd be great. 


00:10:57    Alyssa

Yeah. Let's do it. Let's dig into it. I feel like, for instance, just last night, like she, it was that last nap of the day where it can be challenging to get, and she's at the age now where she's just like, what's going on? I wanna be involved in all the things, but also I'm tired, but I don't wanna fall asleep right now because what's my brother doing, et cetera. And so I was upstairs in a dark room, nursing her, laying down, helping her fall asleep. And anytime I like pulled her off, she's also getting two teeth right now. She already has two, which is nuts. And anytime I like pulled her off, she would wake up. And so I was like, okay, I'm gonna be here, which with Sage, I was like soaking those moments up, and I was like, yeah, I'll just be here. But there was a part of me that was like, he was at school today and I wanna go hang out with him while she's napping. And my husband gets to do that. He gets to just hang out with him right now. And I'm here laying in this bed and wanting to soak up both. I wanna soak up this nap where I get to lay in a dark room and nurse her and I wanna be downstairs playing with Sage. 


00:12:05    Erica

Yeah, yeah. It is a real juggle because you expect to, I don't know, you get a break. When it's one and you're trading off, the other person is getting to like restore themselves, right? Like they are getting to, I don't know, eat, shower, like do the things to take care of ourselves. But then when you add in another, it's a juggling of just the other child's needs, as you said. So, you've got like the infant who needs probably proximity to you if you're breastfeeding at least or breast like nursing to sleep or whatever that looks like. 


00:12:41    Alyssa

She's refusing all bottles, so. 


00:12:43    Erica

I had one of those and it was so, so hard because then you're kind of like trapped and you feel like you only have like two hour pockets and windows, right? And then watching your toddler, I don't know, it was mixed for me because with my third, I actually, this is how I knew I had postpartum depression, I started to really kind of resent my 18 month old. I sort of resented how busy they were, how like needy of my like very conscious on attention they were because I just didn't have, I was at capacity from like the moment I opened my eyes pretty much. So when we're talking postpartum depression, we usually hear like weepy, or not bonding with our baby, but in my experience, it came out sort of an irritability towards my toddler, but that was with my third. With my second, it was more like, oh, I'm missing out on bedtime with him because I am here. Like it was a very different feeling then, and there's a lot of guilt to juggle with that. 


00:13:47    Alyssa

Yeah, for sure. And the guilt, and I think sometimes for me it can be like jealousy or even resentment in that from my husband's side of like, oh, you just get to pop in and like... we did Easter egg dyeing. I got all the stuff. I bought the eggs. I got the dye. I did all the behind the scenes. I boiled them during the day while he was at school, had everything ready to rock so that when he came home, we could do it. He came home. Mila was having a tough evening time. I ended up having to go and nurse her in a dark room, put her down for nap and I came down and egg dyeing had happened and they had a great time and there was not even a picture of it. And I was just like, ugh. Being the logistics parent and not the fun parent ever. 


00:14:40    Erica

Yeah. It's interesting because there's like you did all the invisible labor to anticipate being the maker of fun in that moment, but then you didn't get to like enjoy and revel in the moment itself and like see the joy that it brought your child to like do that activity, right? 


00:14:59    Alyssa

A hundred percent. Yeah. 


00:15:00    Erica

So like I have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to being the maker of fun and the pressure that we feel to curate these experiences. And I love Susie, Busy Toddler for this. She's like, you don't need all the fancy shit, like, you know, but all of the pressure that we feel to, or just even like desire to curate these memorable experiences and to anticipate them and to plan them and to get the supplies for them and to research even what activities you're going to do. Like there's such a – underneath the iceberg of that physical activity, there's so much invisible work that goes with it. And then to do all of that work and then not get like the bit of joyful moment of the actual activity with your kids. And one of the traps that I used to fall into was thinking I was going to curate all of and do all of this and that, it was for sure going to be enjoyable, but with kids three and under, rarely was it ever. So I would do all of that, think it was going to be amazing. It would be a gong show. And then I would be like, okay, why do I put myself through this?


00:16:05    Alyssa

 Yeah. And then I feel like you can have anger towards the kids. It's like, I put together this fun thing for you. I did all this behind the scenes. I found that as a teacher, I have taught early ed, it's my master's is early ed and like teaching preschool or toddlers and setting up an activity and getting all the things together and being so prepared for the day and then kids come in and like, no one wants to do, it or it's a disaster and being like, oh, I put all of my time and effort into this and you don't even want to do it or it's a total shit show. And I think that I'm grateful for those teaching years because then I think I did enter into parenthood with a little like, yeah, I'm not a human who's going to be like a Pinterest mom because the like rage that I feel when I put a lot of time and effort into something and then they don't really care isn't worth it when like what they really want is the mixing bowl and water and dish soap. 


00:17:06    Erica

Right. Right. Exactly. 


00:17:09    Alyssa



00:17:10    Erica

Yeah. And like for teachers, it's a whole, I don't know, how they teach all day in the overstimulation and all like managing like the invisible load of trying to keep a whole class regulated. Like that feels like an enormous weight and pressure. And then to go home and be already sort of at capacity in your sensory system and overstimulation and then come home to young kids, like that is – I've worked with a lot of teachers like as mom clients. And I have such empathy for that because you're kind of this container for this whole classroom all day long and it's a lot of invisible emotional labor involved. 


00:17:53    Alyssa

It's huge. And that's what your book, Releasing the Mother Load, dives so much into this like invisible piece. And what it looks like to hold that mental load.. I was just having a conversation with someone on my team and I was like, oh my gosh, I'm feeling so annoyed with Zach, my husband. And as I was like venting about it, she was like, oh yeah, that happens for me when I don't feel seen in all the things that I just did. And it was exactly it, like as I like took pause and thought I was like, yeah, I don't feel seen for all the behind the scenes stuff I'm doing right now. And then this thing was tip of the iceberg. 


00:18:35    Erica

Mm -hmm. 


00:18:37    Alyssa

You know, we're talking a lot about the mental load now and specifically for moms, and I think that's rad. So great that this is a part of conversation that's happening. Has it, has there been a shift generationally? Is it more women in the workforce that has led this or what do you think has led to like now we're having these conversations? 


00:18:59    Erica

It's a great question, and it's a perfect storm, I would say. We've got, you know, primarily millennial moms in these sort of child -rearing years right now where we so badly want to do things differently than our parents because we have this like level of sort of consciousness and awareness around parenting that is different. We had in 1950 only 25 % of women and mothers, like mothers worked outside of the home and now it's like 86 % or 87 % in what, that's like 50, 75 years span. And what we have seen is that the domestic and childbearing labor has not redistributed in the home to accommodate mothers working outside of the house or working from home, whatever your structure is, but working and earning an income. And so we've got the pressure of now, or the messaging, saying, go, go, achieve your dreams, go after the things that you want, like you can have, you can do, you can be whatever you want, which is a great empowering message. And then we enter into motherhood and the reality of the brick wall that we hit that says actually your place is keeping house and caring for these children. And the messaging is that you should be entirely satisfied with that, what mother isn't satisfied with this role? And then wondering why we're burning out and this is like impacting our mental health, you know? I like to picture the invisible load or the mother load, mental load, as an invisible backpack that gets handed to us. And it default gets handed to mom by society or, you know, our own internalized beliefs even, all of these things. And in this backpack are all of the essential, but invisible tasks that are required to keep a household functioning and like household and child rearing and kids showing up where they need to go and doing the things they need to do. And so that's like the, I don't know, inventory stock keeping of the house. That's the anticipating the different milestones and interests and all of those things. That's the researching and the planning of the, you know, methods of sleep we're going to try or the different foods and all of that cognitive, emotional, mental labor that happens that is essential for raising children and keeping a household, but goes unnoticed, as you said, and underappreciated and undervalued, essentially. 


00:21:37    Alyssa

100%. And I think that on top of the essentials, we're also like, we're going to do this, and are also going to in the process do it differently than how we were raised where we don't have like a subconscious just blueprint for it. So not only are we going to do it, but I'm going to make entirely different meals than I had growing up. I'm going to show up in these ways entirely differently. I'm going to prioritize X, Y, and Z. And so the additional like consciousness required on top of just doing the essentials is exhausting. And if I'm being totally honest with myself, there's a lot that I don't want to relinquish control over, right? When I've looked at like, okay, how can we divide things up? What tasks can we hand off, blah, blah, blah. As I made these lists for myself, I'm like, okay, I want to hand this off, but I want it done right. And so the doing it right is doing it my way. And in order for me to really have that not on my brain and not just be like, okay, I'm gonna do the background and then you get to like carry out this task. In order for me to feel freed of the task and feel like I've really handed it off, I have to do the work around relinquishing control. And that for me feels like the biggest barrier. 


00:23:04    Erica

This was the real crux of my book. I got asked, like, why are we writing a book, you know, about releasing the Mother Load and emotional labor and domestic labor to women? Like, shouldn't we be speaking to partners? Shouldn't it be, you know, speaking to both? And what I have seen for years working with my mom clients, like, niched down in this space is that, you know, we might get, we have a willing partner who's bought in and is willing to like redistribute with us. And we do the Fair Play Method, which I love Eve, I love the Fair Play Method, but then somehow end up defaulting back into patterns of us carrying things. And when I really dove into the why that was happening, what I started to see was my definition of being a good mom is so linked and woven into these tasks that if I let them go, it's like a piece of my identity in my role that I'm trying to hand over. It's a reflection of me. I feel like it sort of impacts my performance in my role. And if something is tethered to our identity, we are not going to easily hand that over, right? And so we've got like the idea of a good mom sort of air quotes societally as somebody who like keeps house, makes all these labor -intensive meals and is like well -balanced meals and has very well -behaved, emotionally regulated children, and children who sleep and children who hit all their milestones and like all of these pressures. And so when we look at something like handing over lunches or handing over a meal prep or handing over some of these big domains in the house, I don't know, it's really hard because it's so tangled into the shoulds we feel we need to be carrying. 


00:25:03    Alyssa

And so what do you break down in your book? What does it look like to dive into those shoulds? 


00:25:08    Erica

Yeah, it's understanding that they are external pressures and expectations for us. So, like, exploring what it means to be a good mom and how we have constructed that for us. Is that because of messages that we have received, that we have kind of gathered into this filing cabinet labeled motherhood and sort of shoved all these messages inside? Is it something that we've consciously sat down and thought about, like, rooted in our own values? Or are we trying to, like, live up to the expectations of maybe family members or people in our life? When I really, like, explore what a good mom looks like to somebody, it's usually a mixture of the strong societal messaging, which is intensive mothering, which we could unpack, which has some really core beliefs to it, like self -martyrdom type norms. And then also, like, what they witnessed in their childhood growing up. And they either want to emulate that and be similar to it or perhaps want to, like, swing the pendulum in the opposite direction and do the opposite of that. But either way, it has a strong impact in what it means to be a good mom for us. But when I unpack them, it is like tasks. It is doing. It is sitting up to the table every night for dinner, for example. And like that's what it means to be a good mom. Or making, you know, well -balanced meals and having kids that eat vegetables. Like that's what makes me a good mom. And I understand the desire to want to evaluate ourselves in our role. We put like all of our soul and time and effort into this, and we want to know we're doing a good job. But the things that make us a good mom, aren't they the things that, you know, help us to raise healthy, thriving children, like securely attached, well -adjusted children? And when we look at those things, according to research, they have nothing to do with domestic household tasks, everything to do with things like attunement or responsiveness or, you know, having a mom who is well, really bodes well for kids' mental health, you know. So I talk a lot in the book about how we can unpack this measuring stick that sort of we've been handed to evaluate ourselves by and then tuning into your own value system, what is important to you in your role, and then creating your own personalized measuring stick for checking in and weighing how you're doing on your journey. 


00:27:41    Alyssa

Okay. Huge. Yes. I, as you were saying, and I was like, oh yeah, so many tasks. You were listing things out. I was like, yep, that's what makes me a good mom. Right? And one thing I've been really trying to pay attention to is different parts of me at the end of the day. So for instance, last night where I was laying in a dark room, nursing Mila and supporting her down for sleep and then really was yearning for time with Sage and then I got downstairs and there was like five minutes left before he went up for tubby and got to a point where I was, it was like the last 10 minutes of his bedtime and he was in his room with Zach and I was like, she's nursed. She's not trying to go down right now. I'm just going to switch. And so I went in and was like, hey, can I put you down for bed tonight, Sagey? And daddy can take Mila. And he was like, yeah, and he was so jazzed and it fully filled my cup and it was the last 10 minutes of his bedtime and we got to snuggle and connect and like have that. We didn't have a whole lot of time quantity wise yesterday. And then when I looked back at the end of the day after he was down and Mila was down and just kind of like took stock of the day, I was like, we didn't have a whole lot quantity wise. What we had was really quality. And I wanted to be present for it. And I have had full days with him where I don't wanna be there, right? Like I, he's having a hard time or I'm having a hard time, I'm tired, it's whatever. And I'm not having a good time and our quality of interactions and connection and my ability to attune and connect is not as present. And realized like for me right now, one of the things that feels so important and where I feel like I'm succeeding is when I can have some quality interactions with him, which is now helpful for me in the shift of like, as quantity is less, as he's now in school more than he was last year and in childcare, and now Mila's here and whatever, now that quantity is less, that it's okay. And that quality is what matters to me right now. And it was such a like huge shift for me and being like, okay, I can be a good mom and send my kid to school. I can be a good mom and nurse Mila in the dark and not be downstairs hanging out with him every second that he's home from school. I can be a good mom and, you know, and like, it was a huge shift for me to look at what are those things I was carrying? And they were all so task -related, like me being the one to sit at dinner with him. I didn't last night. Zach did. And I was a good mom yesterday. 


00:30:48    Erica

Yeah. It's so, so important because we, in every era, let's say, we have different norms and expectations around mothering. So we have different expectations and norms than our our parents did, for example. Right now, the era of mothering is called intensive mothering, where there are some really core beliefs or myths and norms in this construct of motherhood that are so pervasive and so intertwined with our social, cultural expectations of motherhood that it's kind of the air we breathe in that we swim in. But we can't really call out or don't really I think, to fact check, really. And some of the really pervasive myths of that are I always need to be on for my child. I need to give them all of my time and attention and energy. Motherhood should be labor intensive and energy intensive. And my child's needs come before my own. And so when we've really subtly taken in these messages, or maybe not so subtly, depending, We really feel that we need to be keenly attuned to our child all day long, like zoomed in, on, locked in. And I remember when I sent my first to daycare for the first time and I like weaned back into work and seeing clients, and I went my first day without thinking about him while I was at work. And I was like, is it allowed? Is this what mothers do? Like he wasn't in my conscious awareness. I've been so absorbed in the work that I'm doing. And like have this like mini panic of like, oh my gosh, what kind of mom doesn't think about their kid at all throughout the day, you know, because we're so in these norms. But quantity of time does not predict secure attachment or relationship with our child. Really those attuned, connected moments and that presence that you were talking about are really the things that build that trust and are reliable and dependable and the moments that they start to look forward to. And so now that I have three, getting individual one -on -one time is like next to impossible when everybody is, one person goes to ask me a question and then they all three decide they have a question to ask me at the exact same time and they pile in on each other, right? And so that bedtime tuck -in like you were talking about, they each get their like 10 to 15 minutes of undivided attention per night. And we talk about their friendships as they're getting older, they'll ask, we have a biracial family, they'll ask about like racism that they were hearing about at school. And we like have such important conversations, undivided attention. And they know that they'll have that again with me tomorrow, regardless of how maybe chaotic our schedule becomes that day or whatever. It's so important to step out of this mindset or expectation that we have to be on all the time. It's so much pressure and it's so unrealistic. 


00:33:52    Alyssa

It's so interesting that like, we're parenting in this like intensive parent. I think that's a great word for it. Also, it does feel intense, intensive parenting time. And I, when I look at my childhood, like that combined with I'm one of five, and grew up in a low income community where my parents worked really hard to provide basic needs for us. And there wasn't a lot of extra time, resources, attention to go around. And one of the biggest challenges for me in motherhood is not swinging the pendulum from the lack of attention, connection, attunement that I felt to, oh, you're gonna feel it all the time. I will always be attuned to you. You will always have my attention, all of that jazz. Like that's my biggest challenge from parts of me from childhood that are like, oh no, don't mess this part up because it can be traumatic. I experienced some trauma as a teen and there was no one to turn to and no one noticed and there wasn't a space to connect and process. And I can so easily be like, that part of me can surface and say like, you need to be connected and attuned all the time so that if something comes up, you'll notice and you can be there in the way that no one was there for you. And woof, it's a doozy. It's a doozy for the mental load to be like, all right, yeah, anytime I'm not working, I am going to be attuned to you, child, while also keeping house. 


00:35:40    Erica

Yeah, it's so interesting. What you're describing to me reminds me of a quote and I can not tell you where I heard it from, but something like we need to parent our children for who they are and not for like the child that we were or who we needed our parents to be. And like I fell into this very same trap where I was raised in a home with a lot of yelling. And for somebody who is very sensitive and very like absorbs the vibe type of person, that, like, I never wanted to be in a household that, like, yelled to my children, right? And then, of course, we're human and we have snippy moments where we're like, get your freaking shoes on and get out the door. And so I'm, like, confronted with this, you know, wanting to do things differently. And then the reality of how things are playing out. And one, just because we want to do things differently doesn't inherently just magically give us the skills to do things differently. So there's that. But then also it's unpacking like, okay, is this me parenting out of like a wound and trauma or is this a value that I've adopted? And maybe it's a value that I've adopted because of my trauma, maybe not, like values kind of find their way into our life for different reasons, but it is understanding that we don't have to do it perfectly. And if it is a value, let's say, let's name it. So for yelling, if we take my example of yelling and raising our voices, it's really like wanting to be able to allow for feelings and learn to deal with feelings and communication in a healthy way. That's really the crux of what I want. It's not necessarily to never be angry or never raise your voice. It's like to be able to handle those emotions in a constructive and healthy way. And so the focus is always on, you can be angry, I can be angry. We're going to be upset with each other sometimes, but we can come back and we can repair and we can talk that through differently. And in the instance of like, I don't know, trauma or another one that comes up a lot is we always watch dinner in front of the TV and we never really like caught up as a family. Like it didn't feel like there was like a cohesiveness or like a connection in the family. So I want to have dinners at the table every night. And I'm like, okay, that is great, that dinnertime is the most, like, chaotic, Jumanji time in my house. 


00:38:13    Alyssa

Same. Everyone's overstimulated, done with the day. 


00:38:17    Erica

Right. Like, it's the one time of day, the most that I want to, like, give my kids a screen. But like, that's a high expectation for you to keep. But what is the value behind the rule that you're setting for yourself? Okay, I want to be attuned to, like in your example, I want to be attuned to and aware and connected to my child. The how we do that can be a million different ways, right? And it certainly doesn't mean attuned to in every moment of every day. It is having attunement, even in small doses, consistently throughout their life so that when they are a teen, you've had that depth of attunement with them and that trust that has built that you are reliable, dependable, safe, and secure, that they will come to you with the things that they encounter. So it's less about volume in the moment or like quantity in the moment and more about the consistency and reliability over time that really builds and ingrains that trust and connection and attachment in our child. 


00:39:26    Alyssa

Yeah and again, I think that's a huge message that I want on like billboards because at the end of the day, if connection is what matters to you and that's that value that you want to have that with them, you want them to know that they can come to you and talk to you and you want them to share about their day and you're trying to make that happen at dinner and maybe it's just not going to happen at dinner. Then the result of that, like how do you feel about yourself as a parent or maybe you end up entirely disconnected because you're trying to, like, force them to sit down. You're like, this is what we're doing as a family. We're sitting down and we're eating. And this is how it's going to look. 


00:40:04    Erica

And we're all dysregulated now. 


00:40:06    Alyssa

And now we all hate it. 


00:40:07    Erica

And now I'm mad because nothing is working. You know, 


00:40:10    Alyssa

Versus we're like watching a show together and just leaning into that. Like I would say just right now into this YouTube channel. Shout out Kid Crew, where he's pretty sure the child that is featured in this YouTube channel's name is Kid Crew, which is my favorite, but it's not my jam, but we'll sit and sometimes that's what it is, where he's eating dinner and he's watching an episode of Kid Crew and I'm nursing Mila and I'll just engage in the video like, oh, wow, that truck looks like the one that you have, or, hmm, if you could pick any one of these that you could ride on, like, which would be your choice? And sometimes he's down to engage and sometimes he's just like, not, and just reading that. Like, does he need to zone out and watch a show and eat dinner? Or does he want to chat about it while I'm nursing Mila? And this is just what dinner is looking like tonight. 


00:41:04    Erica

Right. And being flexible with that, knowing that I'm going to meet that value or that important sort of family piece in another way, like at bedtime or whenever. Right. Because I find like even when my kids come in from school, my one youngest still, like doesn't really sit up to the table with everybody else because he asks for can I have my alone time for five minutes? And we set a timer. He needs to literally sit in like a dark room and just like be by himself and lay there and stare at the roof and just come down from the craziness that was his day, right? And so setting us up for success and like choosing the path of ease, knowing that we have built those connected moments into our routine in other ways. 


00:41:48    Alyssa

Yeah, I love it so much. What I'm hearing is that so much of this around releasing the Mother Load, and I'm so stoked for folks to be able to snag your book, is coming back to us outlining what is really important and what we think makes us a good parent before we can start to release. Because as we like to circle back to me being like, all right, I'm going to hand off this task to Zach and I want it done right. That what do I mean by done right and why and being able to dive into that before I can even really hand the task off or have that conversation. Now for folks who are like, okay, yep, want to do this. How do I start these conversations with my partner? Like I've been diving into this part and I'm diving into the values piece. How do I start this conversation with partner or co -parent? What does that look like? Especially if they're kind of unwilling to share the labor or maybe they work more in their home less and logistically they have less time or flexibility or things like that? 


00:42:56    Erica

Well, I think that first is knowing your values. So I actually have like a values list in the book and I take you through uncovering your values, but I have this free download on the side called a value sort and it is like 115 or 20 little values cards with the word on it. I have a few of them actually here in front of me, like bravery and then like what that means as a value underneath it. You cut them up, these cards, and you do them by yourself for your own motherhood values or you do it with your partner or with your kids if they're old enough for like family values and what's important to us as a family. So doing that exercise one for yourself so you know what it means to be a good mom for you, but then doing it with your partner, if your partner, to have a sense of, you know, what they are bringing into parenthood and what is important to them and what they value then opens up conversation to, like, how do we now live according to these? Like, how do we move towards these more in our daily life? And that's what ultimately makes us happy is, like, living out our values and feeling like we're fulfilling those. And so when I did this exercise, surprisingly, there were no domestic tasks that came out in this list. It was things like adventure and experiences. For me, like my partner doesn't really care for these things. It's not – it's not like the top of his list important. But to me, us out adventuring and having an experience together that is new and novel and fun is like top of my like fills my bucket list, right? And so that's something that we prioritize in like sort of micro doses in ways and then in bigger ways in the summer and when school's on break and things like that. So doing that and getting really sort of clear on what those are is important. And then in the book, I also create what are called load maps because we feel the weight of carrying this invisible backpack and this invisible load, but it's something so sort of pervasive and boundary-less and abstract that we don't even really know how to articulate it. We carry it. It is heavy, but it's almost so invisible that we don't even see that it's there or know how to put language to it. So in the book, I've mapped out load maps that go with all these sort of domestic tasks and caregiving tasks. And they're all of the anticipating work, all the researching and planning, all the ongoing management and oversight, so that you don't have to think these up for yourself of trying to take some of that work off of you. But then now this is a tool to say, whoa, first of all, let me validate that I'm carrying a ton of cognitive and mental labor. And now this map is a tool to sit down with our partner and say, did you know that like that one physical task of that egg dipping thing that we did, for example, had all of these other invisible components to it? How about for the next special holiday or event, you own this map from beginning to end. So you source the activity. You make the list of things that need to happen. You do X, Y, and Z. And so what happens is we've got partners, like I hear a lot, partners' fathers are doing more than any other previous generation ever has. Like they're making such progress. And yes, we love that for them. We love that for us. 


00:46:20    Alyssa

The bar wasn't very high. 


00:46:22    Erica

But then we're still talking about "doing" in a sort of like manager employee kind of a way where like it's a delegating, it's not an ownership. And what we're talking about when we're trying to get towards more like a quality in the carrying of these tasks in the home, we're talking about ownership over these domains, not just the doing and the fulfilling of the tasks. 


00:46:48    Alyssa



00:46:49    Erica

And so what starts to happen when we can see it, the invisible load for ourselves, when we can name it and say, hey, this task comes with all this invisible labor, which I've done, you know, putting it into these maps for you. You can say, okay, when we're dividing up these domains, what are you going to take? What am I going to take? And these are all the other components you have to own with that. And it's a really good jump off point to have some constructive conversations. 


00:47:13    Alyssa

Love it. Love it. It's so necessary. so, so necessary. Before we wrap up, Erica, if you could give moms just one piece of advice to start releasing the mother load, what would you tell them? 


00:47:27    Erica

The biggest barrier that I have seen with clients to releasing this load is a feeling that we should be doing it all, can be doing it all, and we are flawed or failing in some way, and we are the reason that we can't keep up. So it's kind of like, I feel like I'm failing. I look up and I look at the other moms around me on social media, everybody else seems to be doing it all and doing it all well and doing it fine. So it must be a me problem that I can't juggle all of these things. 


00:48:04    Alyssa



00:48:05    Erica

And when it's a me problem, when I am not doing a good enough job or I am flawed, there is no solution for a flawed human being. Like there is no, we shut down all problem solving. But we can, when we can step back, zoom out and say, it's not me. The unrealistic expectations of one person are like, what is at play here. Then it actually can feel really empowering to divide up ownership, to ask for help, because it's not coming from a place of being broken or failing, it's coming from a place of realizing, right? Yeah, not feeling good enough or sort of, yeah, just enough in our role. And so when we can see it differently and ask for help and feel empowered to let go, that it's, I don't know, it's that mind shift that has to happen in order to start to do this work. 


00:49:00    Alyssa

It's huge, absolutely huge. And I think the like enough-ness is something that so many of us can relate to. Are we enough? Are we doing enough? Et cetera. 


00:49:10    Erica



00:49:11    Alyssa

Thank you. Thanks for this work and for this book, Releasing the Mother Load. Where can folks find you, connect, learn more about you? 


00:49:19    Erica

Yeah. So Releasing the Mother Load is available wherever books are sold, wherever you buy your books. And then I am @momwell on Instagram, have the Momwell podcast, Momwell.com. And that's the maternal mental health platform that really helps dive into if you are struggling to adjust or feeling anxious or feeling like you're just having trouble with even your identity and your role, all of these things. We've got all kinds of free supports, self -paced supports, and maternal mental health therapists across Canada and rolling out in 10 states in the U .S., California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania. We're rolling out our team in the U .S. as well. So if you need that added support, it's momwell.com. 


00:50:05    Alyssa

Awesome. Thank you for such important work, Erica. 


00:50:08    Erica

Thank you so much for having me. 




00:50:15    Alyssa

Oh my gosh, it was such a good rad call that I just got off of with a program in Connecticut that we've done a bunch of coaching for. I love it when our programs like reach out all the time, like that's what we're here for. 


00:50:31    Rachel



00:50:32    Alyssa

And we have this superstar teacher at one of our schools in Connecticut that reaches out quite a bit. She's like, all right, I have this coming up with this kid, help me understand this or their nervous system or whatever. And we just had a call and it started with the director of the program saying, she's like, I have worked in early ed for so many years, I have a degree in psychology and I've never experienced teacher support, like we have been getting from Seed. And I was like, ugh, like, yes. I mean, like, that's why we do this. And it was so rad. I was like, ugh, it's lovely when it's like, this is what we're here to do. 


00:51:13    Rachel

Yeah, and like the coaching within the Seed Cert was like underutilized for so long. And now it's like really picking up and it's so fun to see. 


00:51:23    Alyssa

I know, I wanna like, I wish I could sometimes quit the rest of my job just coach because the coaching calls are so fun. Oh my gosh. 


00:51:33    Rachel

Well it so fulfilling.


00:51:34    Alyssa

Totally. And just to get to connect with teachers on the ground, doing this work and directors. We had a director call this morning with directors who were just like, help me with our work culture, like to support these teachers as a whole. Yeah. It's really fulfilling work for me and fun. So riding a little high over here. 


00:51:54    Rachel

Awesome. I love it. Love to see it. 


00:51:56    Alyssa

Love to see it. Also brought to you by an SSRI and some dopamine assist, but, you know, also work. 


00:52:05    Rachel

Take it however you can get it, 


00:52:07    Alyssa

You know... 


00:52:08    Rachel

I'm currently riding a low, I'm just having one of those weeks, well, really two weeks where like everything feels overwhelming and it's just like, end of school, Abel's also--


00:52:26    Alyssa

You also have a sick kid, 


00:52:27    Rachel

Yeah, sick kid. Yeah, just like a lot of stuff the kids had their spring concert yesterday and like Abel refused to participate, which honestly I was fine with, because he wasn't feeling great but then like wanted to be climbing on my body and this like hot gym for an hour and a half, and I felt so bad for Nora because her instrument like was missing and not by her fault like the teachers managed the instruments and so like she walked on stage and realized her instrument was missing and like I could tell that she was gonna maybe cry. Oh man, so hard to not be able to like jump in and fix those things and just like have to ride it out as my sick kid is literally climbing my body and I'm hot and on my period. And, um, 


00:53:18    Alyssa

You're coming at this from a lot of regulation. You're like, I'm really well resourced to hold my daughter's emotions that she's about to publicly have. 


00:53:28    Rachel

Yeah. And I did like, I was able, we got through it. I supported her. Um, and now Abel's home sick today. Um, Yeah, so definitely riding a low, but I'm here and--


00:53:45    Alyssa

I will say I find it the hardest when kids are home sick and it's close to like, either they just came out of being home for like winter break or something like that. And then they're sick and it's like, no, we already, you were just home for a week and now you're supposed to be back in school. And I carved out my time to have you home for that week, but this wasn't part of the deal or like, as you're coming up to summer and you're like, you're about to be home all summer. You got to go to school on the days you go to school. 


00:54:17    Rachel

That's like where I'm at. And I have all these things that I want to accomplish before summer. And last week it was Memorial day. And then he got that high fever Tuesday. Didn't go to school Wednesday. Doesn't go to school Thursday. The whole drop -off show -and -tell situation on Friday. 


00:54:35    Alyssa

So he basically didn't go to school Friday as far as you're concerned with what you got to get done. 


00:54:41    Rachel

Correct. I have not had uninterrupted work time in like 10 or 11 days. 


00:54:47    Alyssa

Yeah. I'm with you there. You and I have been in that. Yours was unintentional and mine was intentional. The unintentional feels way harder to like, nope, I have to keep pivoting. 


00:54:58    Rachel

Yeah, so much pivoting. 


00:55:01    Alyssa

Yeah. We, Gabby, came back from, she went on a trip to Australia with her twin sister, she's an identical twin sister and family friend, and actually when she had reached out in, at like Christmas time, we were all on break, and she texted me and was like, and I'm like three weeks postpartum or not even, and she was like, hey, do you have a minute to like chat at some point? And I was like, oh my God. 


00:55:28    Rachel

Did you think she was quitting? 


00:55:30    Alyssa

Yes. And, you know, she's my nanny and, like, lifeline. She helps my world happen. And I was, yeah, freshly postpartum. And I was like, uh, yeah, can you talk now? Like, what do you mean at some point? Like, I need to talk now. She immediately was like, oh, my God, I'm not quitting. And I was like, oh, okay, cool. Then, yeah, whenever you need to talk. But she was like, can I go on this trip to Australia, this opportunity presented? And I was like, yeah, you can't not go on that if, you know, that comes up. But it was 10 days of her gone, which is a lot work -wise, you know, just me and Mila hanging for 10 days when it's like last month, Sage was off for his school vacation. And the month before that, we had two weeks off for his school vacation and our trip south. It's just like, whew, it adds up. 


00:56:25    Rachel

It so adds up. Oh, the other thing today. So I have that, like, awesome mic that you sent me. So I bought the adapter cord that I needed for it. It, like, took forever to find. It was out of stock at Target, whatever. Bought it, had it, promptly lost it. I don't know what happened. I mean, I do have two children who move cords around, so. And not being able to find things, I've noticed, as a parent, is a really big, um, like anger trigger for me. So, um, that also happens while Abel is like come sit with me, make shrinky dinks with me, preheat the oven. 


00:57:06    Alyssa

Go to school! Stop being sick! 


00:57:10    Rachel

You seem healthy enough to be at school, if I'm being honest right now with all these demands. Um, yeah. So. 


00:57:18    Alyssa

Who are we covering today? 


00:57:20    Rachel

Erica Jossa. 


00:57:22    Alyssa

I really like her. It was, that was the first time I had met her was for the podcast. And then I interviewed for her podcast as well. So I'm gonna be on that one. We've now become friends. We WhatsApp with each other, cause she's in Canada. So that's like the way we can text. Yeah. 


00:57:40    Rachel

So yeah, this was like the mental load of balancing the need of multiple kids. 


00:57:47    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. It's a lot. You know what I think I got from it that is, I think, my greatest work in parenting is just that constant reminder that it's not my job to meet all their needs. All the time. 


00:58:09    Rachel



00:58:09    Alyssa

And I feel like, you know, there's the part of me that has needs that weren't met in my childhood. That's like, oh, you're meeting those needs, has a real hard time being like, yeah, sometimes there are going to be days or moments or whatever where they don't have a need that's met. And then we get to repair or acknowledge or whatever. But it's okay. 


00:58:32    Rachel

Yeah. Yeah. I think there's this false narrative that mostly falls on, I think moms and women, that we do need to be the like emotional point person and be available 24 -7 to like respond intentionally and something that came up in the interview was this idea that this is a unique time in parenthood because we are, and this was pretty much speaking about moms primarily, we're trying to parent consciously. Many of us are working outside the home and also carrying like a lot of the mental load inside the home. So we have this like perfect storm of trying to parent differently and consciously and intentionally. And also dealing with like this sort of restructuring of the home in that women are working. And then also, so what does that mean for at home? Cause we can't work outside the home and then also carry all the home tasks. So it puts a lot of moms in a really tough space, I think. 


00:59:40    Alyssa

100%. And I also think like, it, you know, because I've thought about like, what does this mean for women who are stay at home moms, or for stay at home parents in general, too. And like, I just think that the mental load part-- I was chatting to my mom about this, actually, I was just home. And she was a stay at home mom until my little brother went to kindergarten. So for 


01:00:08    Rachel



01:00:10    Alyssa

18 years. Yes. 


01:00:11    Rachel

Yeah. That's a long time. 


01:00:13    Alyssa

And yeah. Cause there's 13 years between my oldest and youngest brother. And then when Zach went, my little brother, Zach went to kindergarten. So 18 years, she was stayed home mom and she like did things to provide food and whatever, like waitressed on weekends or nights and ran a, like the home childcare, like, watched other people's kids and stuff so she could stay home, but she was responsible for, like, us, for sure. And like, any of our needs, doctor's appointments, anything like that. And then... 


01:00:49    Rachel



01:00:49    Alyssa

Yeah, everything. And then the, like, running of the household, with the exception of, like, my dad was home, they would, like, she wasn't, like, always making dinner. Like, he would make dinner, clean up, or whatever. But she planned everything, and, like, did the grocery shopping, did the whatever. And I was chatting with her about it and the mental load aspect, and she was like, I think this is one of those things where it was easier when I was doing it, is what she said. She was like, it was easier when I was doing it because I wasn't feeling like I needed to do all these other things that she named a few people that we know. She's like, I watched this person as a stay at home parent, and it's like, they're trying to do this like Pinterest perfect activity, too. And then they're doing these like things that she's like, I didn't have on my like, even agenda, or it wasn't like, I have to set up a craft or I have to whatever. You guys just played. And she was like, also, were kids and annoyed me and whatever, and didn't just go off and play like easily. She was like, but I didn't have all these other to -dos that I felt like I was supposed to be doing at the same time. And she was like, I feel like now there's so much else that your generation feels like they're supposed to be doing at the same time. 


01:02:14    Rachel

Yeah, we're inundated with like, set up this invitation to play. Here's how to support your child's development. 


01:02:21    Alyssa

Organize your kitchen with these containers and label it and whatever. And like - 


01:02:27    Rachel

And decant everything. 


01:02:29    Alyssa

Legit. Like, what? 


01:02:31    Rachel

Spend $1,000 and add, like, an hour of work every time you go grocery shopping. Like, those containers cost, like, a million dollars. 


01:02:39    Alyssa



01:02:40    Rachel

Yeah. The external pressure is so real. And I think one thing, I heard somebody say this, like, maybe a couple years ago about stay -at -home parents, which I was a stay -at -home parent for the first four years of parenting. And you are a working parent. You're just an uncompensated working parent. And you're on the clock 24 hours a day. And I think that your mom is so right. Even for parents who maybe don't have a job or a career that is putting external pressures on them, we are constantly fed messaging of like, do more, do this to support optimal development. This is what's ideal, on and on and on and on and on. 


01:03:20    Alyssa

Yeah, it's exhausting. 


01:03:22    Rachel

It's exhausting. 


01:03:23    Alyssa

And I have to like clock myself like this weekend, I, at one point was like, I just want to like sit and have my coffee. And it was really nice out. And like, Beaners was taking a nap and Sage was playing outside. And I was like, I just want to sit down. And then I was like looking around at all the to -do's. I have to clean up this backyard. I could go throw laundry and you know, like all the things I could be doing. And I had to like check myself and be like, yeah but also you've never reached the end of a to -do list. Like don't.


01:03:54    Rachel

I'm so sorry, Kristin, that you're going to have to edit this episode. It could be a rough one. Do you need help with your volume? 


01:04:04    Abel

I turned it off. 


01:04:05    Rachel

You turned it off. Okay, so this isn't one that you can hang out with me, so I can put on Lucas for you. 


01:04:12    Abel

[Abel communicating]


01:04:17    Alyssa

That rasp. 


01:04:18    Rachel

Maybe leave this in, because as we're talking about external pressures, I'll be right back. 


01:04:25    Alyssa

Okay, great. 


01:04:30    Rachel

Okay. I'm back. 


01:04:35    Alyssa

You're good. Yeah. 


01:04:40    Rachel

Just the constant pressure. And one thing that also came up for me is like, quality of time over quantity of time. We can't be constantly like, attuned, locked in, present. 


01:04:55    Alyssa

I actually don't think it's helpful for the kids. 


01:04:57    Rachel

I don't think it's good for them. 


01:04:59    Alyssa

Right. That's what I mean. Like, I think they need to get bored. They need to hear like, it's a part of Daniel Tiger, actually, where he, there's a song that's like, if adults are too busy to play with you, look around, look around, find something to do. And I love that they included it because I was just telling Sage this, uh, about like one of the cool parts about having a sibling and that when she gets older and can play, if mom or dad was like, you know how sometimes we're doing something and we can't give you our attention and you want to play a certain game and we're not available to play that at that time. And sometimes you're really sad or disappointed about that. But if we're not available, maybe Mila will be available and she'll want to play. But just that is, it's okay to be like, I'm not available right now. 


01:05:50    Rachel



01:05:51    Alyssa

And knowing they're not like, okay, bye. Great. Okay to hear that news. 


01:05:58    Rachel

Yeah. I mean, you know how Nora is with that. She wants to interact with somebody constantly. So definitely like boundary setting comes into that. And I find it helpful sometimes to get playful during that conversation. Like it will make her laugh if I sing like, I'm not here for your entertainment before I send her off, just to kind of like lighten the mood and like connect playfully for a second before I'm like, all right, go play with your brother. Cause that's like 30 % of the reason I had him. 


01:06:31    Both



01:06:31    Rachel

Um, yeah, but I think like that is important for parents to hear that it's not only okay to not be constantly interacting, but it's good for kids to have the opportunity to find other ways to entertain themselves and interact with their environment, interact with each other. 


01:06:57    Alyssa

Yeah, it's also going to like, provide A. creativity, if they're just like interacting with the environment. All right, Zach's an only child, and I'm one of five kids. And when we were really early on dating, I was like, what are these things that he's doing that like, there were some, I found some things very annoying. And I started to realize, oh, he never had someone say, hey, that's really annoying. What you're doing is really annoying because it was adult and the adult interaction with kids is so different than the sibling or peer or whatever kid to kid interaction. That when we're constantly there like providing their entertainment, but not just letting them like go have those experiences with other kids, I think there's some growth that happens when you're having those experiences with other kids that can happen with just adult engagement. 


01:07:53    Rachel

Totally. it makes me think of like some stuff in the book. Sometimes kids need to learn things about social relationships that they either can't or are not willing to learn from us.  One thing that I've noticed with Nora is, Nora really likes to control the play and she always has. And for the most part, she's been able to because she's the oldest in our family. She's not the oldest in her cousin crew, but for some reason, they all defer to her. 


01:08:26    Alyssa

She alphas, yeah. 


01:08:27    Rachel

She totally does. And she makes up the game and she makes up the rules. And she's super kind and inclusive and all of these things, but she's in control. And at school, there have been some conflicts where her friends at school don't want to play the way that she has laid out the game. And she has, at first was just like walking away and now is starting to realize like, well, I still wanna play with them. So I've got to figure out sort of like how this is gonna work. And so she's having this opportunity to learn how to like share control of the play, and compromise, and these things that she hasn't really had to do very much in her sibling relationships or her cousin relationships. And so I love to see this. And I love that I'm not the one being like, you need to stop controlling the play, they don't like it. Instead, she's getting to learn with her friends who she has great relationships with. But I think it's really powerful to hear from them like, hey, we don't want to play if we don't ever get to have input in how we're playing. 


01:09:34    Alyssa

100%. Yeah. Yeah, I think it's so beneficial for them to have those peer relationships. And where we're not, you know, like where you were at the concert, like wanting to swoop in. And even if you didn't, that like urge of like, you observe this, I want to swoop in and I want to stop her from feeling this. And later I'll probably process with her, but the opportunity to have those experiences without an adult right there, where they get to see like, what does it feel like in my body? What do I want to turn to my adult and tell them later? Or do I want to, or do I feel like I can navigate this one independently? You know, like I get to build and practice those skills that we've been laying foundations for that they can't do if it's just us there all the time. 


01:10:19    Rachel

Right. Or if we always swoop in. 


01:10:21    Alyssa

Yeah, that's what I mean. 


01:10:23    Rachel

Something that has been helpful with both kids is if they, they'll usually share with me pretty openly if they have conflict at school. And one thing that I will say to them is, do you feel like you can handle this on your own? Do you need me to give you some ideas of what you could say? Or do you feel like this one needs a grown -up? 


01:10:45    Alyssa

Love it. 


01:10:46    Rachel

And they're pretty good at looking at it critically and deciding, can I handle this? Or is this outside of what I feel comfortable with? And I've given both of them scripts. And there have been maybe one or two times where they've been like, yeah, I think maybe if you could talk to the teacher, that would be helpful. But for the most part, they're like, OK, if you give me some words that I can say, I think I can handle this. 


01:11:08    Alyssa

Yeah, I love that. When I was thinking the like quality over quantity piece where, you know, Zach works full -time and he works eight to five. And so, and Sage gets up at 7:30-ish, 7:00, 7:30, and he's going down now, no nap life at like 7:30. And so they don't have a whole, yeah, this is-- 


01:11:29    Rachel

How long has this been happening? 


01:11:31    Alyssa

Like a week where, well, it's been a long time where if he takes it, we've had to like keep capping his nap and shortening it and shortening it in that time. 


01:11:38    Rachel

Because bedtime


01:11:38    Alyssa

Yep. And then it got to the point where even if he had a 20 minute nap, he was like in his crib until 10 o 'clock, couldn't fall asleep. And then he's disaster the next day. And when we cut out nap, he's tired in the afternoon for sure, but then he crashes and he's sleeping like 12 hours and it just, so we're in this anyway, middle ground of like, but he gets up at 7:00, 7:30 and he's going to bed at 7:00, 7:30.  And so they don't actually have that much time together during the day, Monday through Friday. And what they do have, Zach's really present for. And Zach feels no guilt about this. None. Not a single ounce of guilt. And I am envious because I have so much more time with my kids quantity wise. And I feel like with that comes sometimes less quality where I'm been doing other things so that when Zach's home, we can hang as a family or whatever. And I still feel like yesterday was the longest I've been away from Beans since she was born. She's about to be six months old. And Francesca, my bestie here, forced me out of the house and was like, we're going to go for my birthday. All I asked for was a mani -pedi. I was like, that's all I want. But I want, really, it's the gift of time, to go as a nursing parent. And so Francesca was like, we're going, we're doing this. And she dragged me out of the house and we went and we did it. And then we went and sat on a patio and just chilled and chatted and had adult conversation. And I was gone for three hours in the middle of the day. The longest I've been away from Mila. It was so life -giving. And I found myself after the mani -pedi, Francesca was like, let's sit, let's grab an iced coffee and just sit and chill and chat. And I was like, okay. And so uncomfortable. And I found myself being like, okay, I wonder what time it is. How long have I been away? Is this okay? Is Zach okay? Should I go home? And touch base with him. And he was like, yeah, we're chilling. Like they were fine. They were fine. He was like, have fun. And I like had a hard time actually relaxing and being, so I was like, oh, it's a weekend. And you know, whatever, all the things that I'm supposed to be around them all the time. Like, no, just have a nice coffee and chill on. I got my shoulder got sunburned. It's not that bad. 


01:14:21    Rachel

I think, yeah, I relate to this a lot. Even like the couple of times that I've traveled for work have been really hard for me and for me it's not as much guilt but like it's hard for me to relinquish control. 


01:14:38    Alyssa



01:14:38    Rachel

So like I don't feel necessarily guilty that I'm spending time away from them but I have a hard time not worrying about the logistics while I'm gone. 


01:14:48    Alyssa



01:14:48    Rachel

And I trust Cody implicitly and he's an incredible dad and he's so good at being present to them and he's playful and all of these things. But then I like wonder about these really like not significant things like will he dress them properly for the temperature? And like what if he doesn't? Then they might wake up hot or cold and need him to change them the same way that they would if I didn't dress them properly, which has happened, you know? And like Cody misses the kids when he travels for work, which he does relatively frequently for trainings and things, and he misses them and he doesn't want to leave, but he does not think twice about the logistics of their care. 


01:15:34    Alyssa

100%, yes. Zach also has a few things he's involved in where he's out for an evening here or there or whatever, and he's never like, hey, so do you have a dinner plan in place? Do you know, are you, she is gonna need this. Why don't you try this? She's new to this solid, so maybe don't start it yet while I'm not here. Right, like there's no conversation like that. He's just like, peace. See ya. He'll say, do you need anything from me? And I'm like, I mean, no. 


01:16:08    Rachel

I will try to like make sure that groceries are stocked in the house. Make sure that laundry's not super behind. If he's gonna be dealing with school, when I'm gone, I'm like, uniforms are ready to go. Lunchboxes are clean. Here's what both of them like. I could not do any of that and they would survive. Like he can handle it. This is a me problem. 


01:16:30    Alyssa

Yeah, this is it. This is it. It's an us problem. Yeah, like my mom does tell this story about one time when she went to do something. 


01:16:41    Rachel

The peaches. 


01:16:42    Alyssa

The peaches. Like made her own baby food, not cause we're whatever, just cause we were poor. And so she had like blended peaches and frozen ice cubes uh, in an ice cube tray and told my dad, like, yeah, just give Zach, who was a baby, my little brother, some peaches. And he was like, yeah, he wasn't into them, like, later and found out, like, he didn't thaw it. He just gave him an ice cube of peaches. And it's like, okay, maybe some level of, uh, support was necessary there, but like, they survived, right? Zach didn't eat the peaches, whatever. My mom was like--


01:17:15    Rachel

It's fine. Everybody got through. 


01:17:17    Alyssa

--Sweet mother of pearl, but also everyone got through it. Exactly. And that's what I have to like, come back to is like, things might not be done the way that I envisioned, like, they might not eat the peaches, right? Like all this Zach might make lunch, and it's not what I would have given or whatever, there might be a meltdown if there isn't the quote, right balance of food, or this is the snack I give him at pickup because this helps him be regulated until dinner. Maybe that won't happen. And they're going to navigate it and be fine. 


01:17:50    Rachel

Yeah, this is a big, like for years, I've been working on this with myself, this feeling of wanting to be in control of most of the things that happen with my kids. And I resented Cody for a while earlier on in our parenting, because I felt like I was like, he was willing to help, but I was like managing and delegating and I was so annoyed by it. But when I really like stepped back and looked at the situation, yeah, he was waiting for me to ask for help because I wasn't letting him take control of like he would start to do something and I would be like, wait, hang on, you know, or like he would start to respond to an emotion and I would be like, here's what you can say next time. Right. And so I wasn't giving him the time, space to just figure it out with the kids the way that I was figuring it out with them. And so I was feeling annoyed at him for something that I was preventing him from doing. And I had to just get back and be like, you know what? Yeah. He might not validate her emotion the way that I would have. He might say something that feels disconnecting when I listen to it. And I've also done that with our children. And I haven't had anybody breathing down my neck, correcting me. And he deserves the same space to build relationship with them, take control of their care. 


01:19:14    Alyssa

Yeah, it's so true. One of the things I've had to shift lately is asking, do you want ideas for this? In the same way that with a kid, if they're venting to you or they're whatever, and we jump in with problem solving, but they weren't looking for that and they just wanted to vent, then it's disconnecting. But sometimes they do, right. Sometimes it was like, yeah, can you give me something I could say? Can you help scaffold here? This just happened the other day. And there was meltdown city happening in my household and Zach was responding to Sage, but they were stuck in this. Control loop between the two of them. And then later we were on a walk to the playground when I like dragged our family out of the house and we get there and Sage is off playing. And then we were chatting about it and he's just saying like, oh man. And so like that, like this behavior that we're seeing lately, he's like, it's so triggering and annoying to me. Like, just can we not? And I was like, totally. Do you want any ideas on anything else that we could try? Or do you just want to chat about it and like, both are fine. And he was like, paused and he really thought about it. He was like, okay, I think I want some ideas. And yeah, then I could offer them up. But there are times where he's like, yeah, I don't, no. Don't tell me like what you think I should do in this instance. And I have to like, really be mindful of that for myself. 


01:20:41    Rachel

I do too. And like, I eat, sleep and breathe this stuff. 


01:20:45    Alyssa



01:20:46    Rachel

And I've had so much time alone with our kids to observe, experiment, troubleshoot. And he works full time and hasn't had the same time. And then when he does have the time, and I've been there being super critical and controlling? So I've really stepped back in the last several years and it's been rad to sort of see the dynamic change. And there have been times where I have been the dysregulated one who's disconnecting and he's been like, you know what, why don't you step away and I can tap in here. And it's like, yeah, you totally can. And yes, I need to step away, thank you. But for years, I wouldn't let that happen. 


01:21:26    Alyssa

Yeah. Yeah. It for me, I feel like I'm in a stage of parenthood, like purging, kind of like purging stuff, but like purging behaviors and patterns where I had like swung the pendulum kind of too far and now trying to bring it back to the middle on some things where I, yeah, things like, I don't want to micromanage or be in control of all these things. I want them done the way that I want them done, of course, but really coming back to the like, does this really matter? And outlining like, what really does matter to me? And what doesn't? And then dealing with my own side of the street on the like, when the control starts to bubble up and be like, Yep, that's my thing to deal with. I'm going to let him navigate this in a way that's different than how I would. Because  I don't want to be in this cycle of carrying all of it. 


01:22:27    Rachel

Yeah, 1000%. I also, it's important for me for my kids to see me not carrying everything. And also the way that I was handling it with Cody when I was wanting to be in control was not very respectful. And I tend to be really great at treating my kids with respect. and then I was not modeling it for them in my adult relationship with their dad. And that was something that I have worked really hard to change because I don't want them to see me treating them with this high level of respect and being really intentional about it and then not giving that same kind, compassionate treatment to their dad. And I was like underestimating him and he can handle this stuff like he, he's got it. 


01:23:25    Alyssa

Yeah I think though if I'm being completely honest with myself I also do want to be the person that they turn to and there's a part of me that wants Zach to also be that person because it's exhausting to be the only person, but there's a part of me that like when Sage gets hurt, or the other day he was like tired and, you know, this no nap situation. He's like tired and kind of melty. And I went to snuggle into him and he was like, I want Dada. And I was like, okay. Yeah. I want them to have that. Right. And also I want to be the person if I'm being totally real. And so I think there's a part of me that fears that relinquishing that control and freedom for Zach to be the one who responds to the emotions and connects with him and steps in and whatever. And that it's not always me, also means they're going to develop that relationship. And there's a part of me that's like, will I be replaced in that? 


01:24:34    Rachel

Hmm. Yeah, I, I see that. I think I carried a lot of the same fears when I was in cancer treatment and like had been Nora's go -to, her number one, and then all of a sudden like couldn't be. Now in the space that I'm in, I feel like I'll always be Abel's number one until like he finds his future partner. 


01:25:03    Alyssa

And then maybe even still. 


01:25:05    Rachel

I'm so fine when either one of the kids want Cody because Abel just wants to be touching me and talking to me at all hours of the day and sometimes the night. So I definitely have been in the space that you're in where you kind of wonder like, if I relinquish control, am I also relinquishing part of my relationship with them? 


01:25:26    Alyssa

Yes, exactly. Yeah. 


01:25:29    Rachel

And now I'm in a season where like, honestly, if you want to have some of this relationship, hop right in here. 


01:25:36    Alyssa

Take it away. That's how I felt at the beginning when like Mila came and I was so focused on the physical aspects of taking care of a newborn. I'm like, yeah, if anyone wants to step in with him, feel free, like happy to give some of that. But then seeing it actually happen, right, in relationship. And you know, when I'm in a regulated state and can really tap in, like, me as Alyssa as myself, like, no, I am not afraid that I'm losing my attachment relationship with Sage because he's building another attachment relationship, like, right. But there's a part of me that fears that. And I think, yeah, to, if I'm going to be really honest, like that comes up. I think sometimes I'm like, Oh, he wants that because Zach's been meeting his needs and I haven't been. 


01:26:24    Rachel



01:26:26    Alyssa

Cause I stepped back and relinquished control. 


01:26:30    Rachel

There's also that part when you're the primary caregiver too, right. Where you're like, there's a part of me that's like, I've been putting in all the time here. Right. I have 


01:26:37    Alyssa

So much time. 


01:26:39    Rachel



01:26:39    Alyssa

But then like when he got his stitches and whatever, like it was me, he wanted in his face, keeping him calm or he knew he was safe. Like those still exist. You know, it's not that he's like beat it, mom, all the time. And it's just now that he has his two is two people, which is rad for him to have people. But yeah, it's basically what I'm saying is this is a lose, lose scenario here. Very when you relinquish the control and have support and it's shared. Still feelings come up. 


01:27:17    Rachel

Yeah. You can't afford, you can't avoid the feelings, unfortunately. 


01:27:22    Alyssa

We should write a book about it. This is such an important conversation, though. It's so nice to get to chat with Erica about it. And folks should snag her book, Releasing the Mother Load, and follow her over at Momwell. Well worth it. And check out her podcast Momwell where I'm going to be hopping on to have a conversation with her. Thanks for hanging out with me, Rach. 


01:27:44    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at voicesofyourvillage.com. Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at @seed.and.sew, S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag @seed.and.sew to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans. 

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