ODE TO THE KEEPER
The Keeper is a job title held by many and is defined as the purveyor of “invisible work” amassed within a household that requires an unbelievable amount of mental energy. In short, we’re referring to the parent tasked with directing the symphony of emotions and lists. Therapists refer to it as “emotional labor” defined as the effort it takes to put your game face on when you’re utterly exhausted from managing nearly everything at home.
Cameron Reeves Poynter wrote a stirring essay on Facebook last year on behalf of the unsung heroes that submissively carry out this duty. I share with you Cameron Reeves Poynter’s essay:
“I am the keeper. I am the keeper of schedules. Of practices, games, and lessons. Of projects, parties, and dinners. Of appointments and homework assignments.
I am the keeper of information. Who needs food 5 minutes before a meltdown occurs and who needs space when he gets angry. Whether there are clean clothes, whether bills are paid, and whether we are out of milk.
I am the keeper of solutions. Of band aids and sewing kits and snacks in my purse. But also of emotional balms and metaphorical security blankets.
I am the keeper of preferences. Of likes and dislikes. Of nightly rituals and food aversions.
I am the keeper of reminders. To be kind, to pick up their trash, to do their dishes, to do their homework, to hold open doors and write thank you notes.
I am the keeper of rituals and memories. Of pumpkin patches and Easter egg hunts. I am the taker of pictures, the collector of special ornaments, and the writer of letters.
I am the keeper of emotional security. The repository of comfort, the navigator of bad moods, the holder of secrets and the soother of fears.
I am the keeper of the peace. The mediator of fights, the arbiter of disputes, and the facilitator of language, the handler of differing personalities.
I am the keeper of worry. Theirs and my own.
I am the keeper of the good and the bad, the big and the small, the beautiful and the hard.
Most of the time, the weight of these things I keep resembles the upper elements on the periodic table – lighter than air, buoying me with a sense of purpose.
But sometimes the weight of the things I keep pulls me down below the surface until I am kicking and struggling to break the surface and gasp for breath.
Because these things I keep are constantly flickering in the back of my brain, waiting to be forgotten, they scatter my thoughts and keep me awake long past my bedtime.
Because all these things I keep are invisible, intangible, they go unnoticed and unacknowledged until they are missed. They are not graded or peer reviewed or ruled on by a court. And sometimes they are taken for granted.
My husband and my boys are kind and generous and they love me hard. And this is by far the greatest job I have ever had. But sometimes being the Keeper is exhausting because you feel like you’re doing it alone.
So, to all of you who are keepers, I SEE You. I KNOW the weight of the things you keep and the invisible work you do, which doesn’t come with a pay check or sick leave; it’s what makes the world go round.
I see you. And I salute you. #Love Hard#ISee You#Love WhatMatters”
Cameron Reeves Poynter
Today, let’s take a moment to show appreciation, love and gratitude to the Keepers in our lives. They give Wonder Woman or Thor a run for their money!!
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, February 11, 2018.