Thursday, May 5, 2016

I am the person who notices we are running out of toilet paper, and I rock: A tribute to moms everywhere

Last weekend, I noticed we were running low on toilet paper. By "low" I mean we were down to our last case but still: Toilet paper is a hot commodity. So I sent my hunter-gatherer husband out to spear some at Costco.

I am the only person in our household who ever notices that we need more t.p. The kids never give it a second thought—it magically reappears in the holder on a regular basis, placed there by The Toilet Paper Fairy. The spouse assumes that my good old trusty eyeballs will notice the dwindling rolls and raise the alert.

And this is why I rock.

Come Mother's Day, it is doubtful that any mom anywhere will receive a card that reads: "Happy Mother's Day to the woman who always notices we are running out of toilet paper." This is a good thing, because anyone who presented their partner with such a sentiment would die a quick death. But the point is, we mothers deserve props for our seeing superpowers.

This is not to disparage my beloved. Hells to the no! Although perhaps I feel ever so slightly smug that I am the person who stays on top of such stuff, this isn't about him. This is about me, and my uncanny ability to see things. Not dead people; no, stuff that comes in far more handy, and enables our family to basically exist.

• I am the person who notices we are running low on clean silverware/
bowls/plates/favorite cups.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on coffee pods.
I am the person who notices we are running low on clean underwear, unless you count the pairs with holes which some people do.  
• I am the person who notices we are running low on toothpaste/dental floss/mouthwash/anti-cavity rinse in bubble gum flavor and NOT the one with SpongeBob on the bottle/soap/shower gel/shampoo/conditioner/that detangling spray that supposedly wards off lice [insert product critical to good hygiene].
• I am the person who notices we are running low on matching socks, unless you count the pairs with holes which some people do.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on eggs, milk, bread, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, chocolate ice-cream, that pasta shaped like little wheels, Cheerios and other food basics. 
• I am the person who notices we are running low on granola bars, brownie bites, dried fruit, kale chips, cheese sticks, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and other lifesaving snacks.
I am the person who notices we are running low on ketchup, one heavy burden to bear.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on OJ, juice boxes, chocolate syrup and the organic strawberry lemonade our son has been drinking by the gallon.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on Bac-Os, although I keep meaning to look those up to see if they might kill us.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on creamy peanut butter and chunky peanut butter and Natural with Honey peanut butter and whipped peanut butter and I so wish our family had consensus on p.b.
I am the person who notice we are running low on sprinkles, that essential food group.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on aluminum foil, plastic wrap and Ziploc bags. (As someone wise once said, "You can never be too rich or too thin or have too many Ziploc bags.")
• I am the person who notices we are running low on vitamins, aspirin, Tylenol and Midol, and while I am the only one to care about running out of Midol it would benefit other people to care about this too.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on tissues, Children's Tylenol, Benadryl, Band-Aids, Neosporin, bacitracin, Aquaphor, more Band-Aids [insert items critical to children's well-being].
• I am the person who notices we are running low on gift wrap, birthday cards and birthday candles.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on light bulbs.
• I am person who notices we are running low on dry-cleaned clothes to wear to work.
I am the person who notices we are running low on AA batteries, AAA batteries, C batteries, D batteries, 9-volt batteries and ALL OF THE BATTERIES.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on crayons, markers, colored paper, tape, glue sticks, glitter, index cards, highlighters and, sigh, who was the last person to use the scissors?
• I am the person who notices we are running low on paper towels, sponges, laundry detergent, bleach, stain spray, dishwasher detergent, sponges, dish soap, refills for the scrubbing thingies, bathroom soap, hand sanitizer, bathroom cleaner, furniture polish, dust rags, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner [insert products critical to household cleanliness].
• I am the person who notices we are running low on children's outerwear after most has gotten left at one activity or another.
• I am also the person who notices we are running low on children's clothing that actually fits them.
• Not to mention shoes that still fit them.
• And the hats.
I am the person who notices we are running low on storage space for all the toys and games and race cars and fire trucks and crappy plastic thingies from birthday party goody bags.  
• I am the person who notices we are running low on stamps/matches/paper clips/
various crucial little things.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on family photos and that we'd better take some before the kids are in college.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on sunscreen, bug spray and Chapstick.
• I am the person who notices we are running low on writing utensils and where do all the pens go, anyway?

I am not the person who notices we are running low on wine, gas/oil for the car, sriracha-flavored almonds, cloud storage, date nights, phone chargers and a bunch of other stuff but, back to me.

Because my seeing powers don't end with the above.

• I am the person who locates the missing stapler/keys/sunglasses/favorite t-shirt/favorite toy/book/homework folder/library card/lacrosse stick/lacrosse pinnie/lacrosse socks/lacrosse headband/TV remote/pool passes/whatever is making someone wail "Mommmmmmmy, I can't fiiiiiiiiiiiiiind it!"
• I am the person who observes, right before bedtime, that various iDevices are lying around uncharged.
• I am the person who notices that veggies in the produce drawer and fruit in the basket are rotting.
OMG how can you people not notice the fruit flies?
• I am the person who spots the squished raisins under the kitchen table, the dustballs under the dresser, the mound of lint in the dryer filter and the mystery substance on the sofa.
I am the person who finds the bag of clothing on the floor of the car that was supposed to be returned to the store three weeks ago.
• I am the person who discovers that the basement light is still on.
• I am the person who foresees needing gifts for the birthday party, graduation party, anniversary party, every party.
• I am the person who notices the throw in the living room hasn't been washed in approximately eleven years. But at least I finally noticed.  

All this is in addition to the vast amount of details and to-dos packed into my brain including—but not limited—to:

• My family's clothing and shoe sizes
• When library books are due
• School permission slips and forms that need signing
• Box tops that must be cut
• Payments that are due for sports teams, gymnastics, music lessons, dance class and the recital outfit (which never ever costs less than $70 and is never ever to be worn again)
• The recipe for the best chocolate-chip banana bread in the history of chocolate-chip banana bread
• When the kids' various annual doctor and dentist and specialist appointments need to be booked
• The phone numbers for the doctor and dentist and specialists
• When prescriptions need to be refilled
• Which of the kids' friends has nut/sesame allergies
• The precise location of the stone pestle and mortar set to make guacamole, the frog boo-boo cold pack, the good picnic blanket and the Tom the Turkey stuffed mascot who graces our Thanksgiving table every year
• The memorized outfits of every teacher I've ever had, including the one during my semester abroad in Florence
• The phone numbers of my two best friends in fourth grade
• All the words to Jessie's Girl

I rarely get credit for my observational talents. I see, I do and I conquer, tirelessly and without complaint. Er, mostly without complaint. OK, I complain. But has our family ever had a t.p. crisis? Nope. 

It doesn't take a village—it takes me

Because I am that person who notices we are running out of toilet paper.

And therefore, I rock.

Also check out:

How to get your family to give you exactly what you want for Mother's Day: SLEEP


  1. You nailed it. This. This is why a mom's job is never done, and why it may seem as if we didn't do much in a day when really we kept it all going. I have tried to explain this to my husband, but it just sounds like nagging. Thank you for summing it up so nicely, and with humor!

    1. Thank you for that. As a stay-at-home mum, I am constantly on the go, even when feeling rotten with a fever and the 'flu. My work is never appreciated by my husband, who sees fit to insult me for "not working". And yet, before we had children, despite my earning far less than he did while working full time, I paid all the utilities bills and the groceries, and so many other things, without claiming a cent from him. He has conveniently "forgotten" that, and denies it. Travelling by bus to and from work (while he, conveniently, went by car, a car on which I stupidly paid the deposit), and doing all the grocery shopping on foot, a fair walk away from home (I had a driving licence, but he used the car ...). I am insulted by him, constantly belittled for not having a paid job (I practically gave up trying to work when one of our children was seriously ill for a few years), have to resort to asking for housekeeping money because he always conveniently "forgets", and yet, everyone who knows him thinks he is the perfect husband and father. I will not break up my family for his irrational behaviour, because my children have been through enough already, but I so wish to be treated with a modicum of respect, rather than be called a "nag" or a "whiner" when I have to ask for basic things - like taking the rubbish out - to be done because I have too much on my plate. I so wish to be financially independent, but given our family circumstances, that is currently a fair way off - and I know that it would still leave me to notice when the toilet paper is finished, to put it the way this author did.

    2. "Anonymous" who posted January 3 at 5.28 PM. You probably know this but just in case you don't, here's a link for you to read.

    3. Anonymous #1, I am sorry for your circumstances. Perhaps you can find a local counselor to speak with as a source of support?

  2. *mike drop* Happy Mother's Day!

  3. And then you still manage to run a blog. You are impressive.

  4. You do rock. Happy 1st Mother's Day as a mom of 3!

  5. Looooove it! Thank you for telling the world what only us moms know!

    You absolutely *do* rock, my friend!!

  6. Yes and yes!! It's the little things that add up to make us moms rockstars :)

  7. Hurrah! TP is, like, my thing! Towers of it - can't live without it! You go, guuurl!!!!!

  8. I've been preaching to the choir about this for 33 years! You are spot on! Hope you were amply rewarded on Mother's Day. Thanks for making my day.

  9. Then there are all the emotional things Moms notice, like when you ask a child how his day at school was and he says fine, but it doesn't sound the same as when it really is fine. Or the look on your kid's or husband's face when he's tired, disappointed, hurt, or pumped about something. All those subtle emotional cues take a piece of our heart, mind, and time. And we're the lucky ones who get to deal with it. <3

  10. I just stumbled on your story this morning. The last day of this year. Perfect timing. Well said, kindred spirit! Happy New Year and best wishes for yet another year of seeing superpowers :)

    1. Thank you, Loopy! (May I call you that? He he). And to you!

  11. I love this!! Thank you!!!!

  12. Love this! Only 9 comments so far??? Seriously? This should be set to music and sung before baseball games. This should be chanted, hand over heart, before PTA meetings. Or is that just me, chanting as I try to fall asleep? Maybe I'll try it to the tune of Jessie's Girl...

    1. The idea of this being sung before baseball games literally made me LOL!

  13. Very well said! God bless all the wives/moms out there with similar super powers!! We all rock!

  14. I found this just now through an article. I'm currently 4 days postpatrum with my second child. My daughter is almost 4.
    I cried reading this. Yes, a lot had to do with hormones, but even more had to do with the fact that I feel validated. I can't tell you how many times I've been brought to tears thinking that I don't do enough. I'm a Special Education Teacher, and the mom of now two, very "mommy" kids. You know the situation, you get 3 minutes to yourself to go to the bathroom, only to be interrupted with "Mommy, can you put on Disney?" Normally, this would be semi understandable, but when she had to walk past her father to get to me in the bathroom... come on!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Hang in there, mama. Those first weeks postpartum are a tough juggling act with two, but it really does get easier. Sending you many good vibes.

  15. I have to ask if you've ever read the Emotional Labour thread on metafilter. (, or it's highlights, (

    It touches on everything you've written about here.

    1. Alice, thank you! I hadn't seen, but I am going to read it through.

  16. This basically reinforces the tired sterotype that dads are just bumbling boobs who couldnt possibly have any insight as to when the toilet paper is running low..All moms cheer this on and it subtly suggests that it is the mom and only the mom that is capable of this intuition...So maddening and the media and our society just push that narrative..

    1. I don't think this post or Lisa Wade's portrays men at all as "bumbling boobs." The truth is that in the scheme of division of household labor, women *typically* (as in, it's obviously not the case in every family) carry the heavier load of thinking about all this stuff. Research backs it up. So does reality.

    2. What research?? Yes yes , mothers do rock, but I'm here to say that as a involved dad and on behalf of dozens of dads I know...we do it all and have the intuitions, gut feelings just like moms do..

      Not buying your research claims at all..sorry if it sounds churlish,but it's the stereotype an article like this feeds to people.. look at commercials today.. Mother's Day? Woman desparately looking for some quiet downtime while having a glass of wine.. Father's Day? Duh, where can I buy a grill?

      And lord knows men can't handle crying babies either..

    3. Jon, the post above has nada to do with anyone's intuition/gut feelings. It's about the mental labor involved in running a household. In terms of research, Lisa Wade references it in her post, done by Susan Walzer. There's also a book out called The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild about the household labor mothers do. I am by no means discounting fathers' feelings. I'm talking, again, about the reality in which women often stay on top of the motherlode of tasks in a household.

    4. The "research" (survey) also states that "Even when their male partners “helped out” by doing their fair share of chores and errands, it was the women who noticed what needed to be done." Oh FFS! Fine. Moms win! (You already win because our children lived in you, we can't [and don't want to] do that.) The reality is women need to simply stop marrying assholes. Hell, even the guys who aren't assholes apparently can't do enough. Or maybe the Moms need to actually TALK to THEM? Nah, passive is the best aggressive. Use the internet instead. -Cretin

    5. Upon re-reading and paying just a teeny bit more attention (tons more than this deserves)... Both the "research" (survey of 23(!) couples hardly counts as research) AND the book are over 20 years old. -Cretin

    6. I appreciate your responses and in re-reading my comments, I'm sorry if it comes of as brusque..I guess this article caught me on a bad day, with the holidays in my rear window on how society and the media in general portray fathers..(can't wrap a present..only want to buy a car...) on and on and on..

    7. Jon, I understand where you are coming from and I agree that sometimes the media gives dads a bad rap (and moms, too). In any case, we all have our responsibilities to bear. I just chose to openly share about mine!

    8. it was an enjoyable article to read!(and comment on! :)

    9. Great list, but certainly does not apply to all families. I am a stay-at-home-mom and yet more often than not, my husband is the one who notices when we're running low on household supplies.

  17. I also saw this but have to say rather confused for those who think a mom is only privy to all these lives struggles. You need to know I work full time, pick kids up, help them with Hw, do laundry, clean, answer calls from schools when they are sick, help with dinner, know when they need supplies, food in house, lol low on toilet paper. Worry 24/7. I'm also a Coach, make school parties, and endlist we experience as a parent,. Talk to them when they have issue. My list is your list. So amen for recognizing a parent's ever loving nightmare but sorry not exclusive to moms. No disrespect and I know your not gender bias but a Parent never job is endless and unappreciatead.

    1. "help" with dinner. Enough said.

    2. Jon & Rich - first off, Kudos to your wives because they both found the elusive needle in the haystack! Not to take away from your contributions, but I am certainly not as fortunate to have a husband who shares the burden of the mental work of running our household, and its staggering how many women I talk to who are in the same position.
      And I think you're missing the point the author is trying to make - while many husbands do fully contribute to household chores/work etc., the wife is the one who makes the mental notes of what needs to happen, she is the one who actually notices the little things that need to be done/fixed/prepared/etc.
      My husband wouldn't notice a layer of dust so thick it coud be mistaken for a fleece blanket, but if I pointed it out and said we need to get that cleaned - he'd say no problem, I'll take care of it. But why am I the only one who notices and makes a mental list to get it done?? I can totally empathize with the author!!! She needs to get out of my head!! Lol

    3. Yea, "help" with dinner. As I'm sure their mother "helps" with all the other stuff. The ONLY thing Dads can't do is give birth. "Enough said," please. -Cretin

    4. Stop, just Stop! Rich laid out a perfectly reasonable response, yet the response targets his comments of "help with dinner.." maybe the insinuation that only Moms get dinner ready and dads kinda/sorta help out just isnt true!

    5. IN response to this dandy: the wife is the one who makes the mental notes of what needs to happen, she is the one who actually notices the little things that need to be done/fixed/prepared/etc.

      I call BS - and the bigger issue is that this is perpetuated over and over and over..

      Your husband doesnt notice layer of dust? Why is that exclusively labeled as a guy trait? I can't seem to let these comments pass by for some reason..

      Such a double-standard..

  18. Seeing it all laid out like this is kinda, well, wow, isn't it?

    We do rock.

  19. I agree that this isn't exclusive to Moms, and that there are many Dads who do indeed notice the little/big things and keep the ship sailing. But, I also think that if you look at a majority of families, there is typically one partner that is bearing the brunt and pulling most of the weight when it comes to this kind of stuff...and it's usually the Mom. I applaud and appreciate the role you play in your family and hope you can inspire more Dads to be as involved as you are!

    1. You almost had me until your last line..Its that underlying baseline bias that Dads arent involved! - The tone is set with comments like that.."If only dads could...."

    2. Jon, I think it's great that you're really involved! But it doesn't mean that most men are. My husband, while actually the one who notices when we're running out of toilet paper, doesn't really notice a lot of the nitty gritty details. Does this matter? Not always. He does other things better than I do. I do truly think if I died, a lot of things would simply be ignored/not done. You could then reasonably argue that they weren't important in the first place. But I would argue that (not all) moms bring a certain order and comfort to life that everyone benefits from and deserves appreciation.

  20. We really deserve more credit for our superpowers! Where is Supermom in the Marvel universe? Nowhere. Because how could anyone possibly believe that a woman could zip around, saving the universe, AND still do all the super stuff at home. *sigh*

    1. Oh jees..Pray tell, what are dads doing in this universe of yours?

  21. Perfectly written. Nailed it!

  22. Can totally relate to this! Kudos to you!

  23. Would love to have that Banana Bread recipe....have some bananas I noticed yesterday that are two days away from hitting the trash! ;) #youdorock #rockinwithyou

    1. Here you go, Kristy—enjoy!

      3 to 4 ripe bananas
      1/4 cup melted butter
      1 cup sugar
      1 & 1/2 cups flour
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1 egg, beaten
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      Chocolate chips (as many as you want!)

      Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Bake in a buttered loaf pan until a toothpick stuck into the bread comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Slice and devour.

  24. I'm not a mom but I live with a housemate and various Airbnb guests and two dogs and most of this list still describes the situation. You rock (and so do I)!

  25. Another great book that looks at this issue is Wifework by by Susan Maushart (2001). Couples may sit down to discuss who DOES what, but few sit down and decide who mentally CARRIES what in a relationship. In and of itself all of this mental work is minuscule but it quickly adds up a to grinding weight in many marriages.

  26. It is awesome to have someone articulate the invisible work so many women do everyday, and I thank you for that, but you don't rock, you're part of the problem. Its not a super power, its an expectation of women. "This isn't about him, it is about me", no it is definitely about both of you, your extra work is directly caused by taking on his share. Women will never be equal if we quietly take on the bulk of the mundane and time consuming tasks at home. Stop this nonsense and hold your partner accountable, you'll be setting an example to a younger generation of women who may have bigger dreams than ironing their husbands shirts.

  27. I used to tell my kids i possessed super powers too...microwave vision...i was the only one who noticed the microwave was dirty!!!

  28. Gee, can you get your husband to hire a PA for you? This is ridiculous!


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...