I see you. At the playground, at pickup, at the soccer game or dance class. You’re the mom looking at her phone, flagrantly, in public, in a kid-related space, when you could be scrupulously watching your child every second, unblinking, until your eyes dry out. Or until you’re handed that Mother of the Year trophy we’re all supposedly gunning for.
You have that look in your eyes — I recognize it. You’re stressed. You’re either scowling down at the screen while you try to fit 48 hours of activities and work into 24 hours of a day, or you’re spacing out for a few minutes, scrolling through Instagram while your kids are busy playing. Because most of the time (including right this second), you have life-or-death stuff to pay attention to, and you want to pretend — just for a minute or two — that you have nothing better to do than look at pictures of other people’s vacations.
Your male partner, if you have one, might be next to you. He’s on his phone too. The difference is, nobody’s judging him for it.
A lot of digital ink has been spilled recently about the crushing, unequal “mental workload” of motherhood — the management of household and child-related must-dos, from picking up toilet paper to knowing when to sign up for afterschool programs — that creates a constant background hum of anxiety and that familiar “never done” feeling for most women.
The amount of time and energy it takes to manage the mental workload of motherhood, on top of the other work you have to do, adds up to the equivalent of two and a half jobs per week, according to a recent survey. The average mom is three times as likely to be the sole manager of her children’s schedules, even if she is the primary breadwinner in the family.
One answer to the problem of the mental workload of motherhood, of course, is asking — or demanding — that our partners do more. Most partners, it turns out, are not trying to oppress us straight into the ground. They simply do not know what they need to do to help us lighten the load.
Once, my husband , who does a lot around the house, tried to claim that he handled half of the load — work, obligations, shopping…