A French artist, Emma, has united moms of the world after her comic titled “You Should Have Asked” has gone mega viral.
In it, she describes an all too familiar situation of a mom being stretched thin, and a husband who doesn’t realize it, not because he’s an ignorant buffoon, but because so much of her burden is invisible.
Sure, he (hopefully) notices she unloads the dishwasher, and cooks dinner, but what he can’t see is that while she’s unloading the dishwasher, she’s making a mental note that she needs more milk, bread, shampoo and detergent, and while she’s cooking dinner, she’s thinking about how she needs to clean out the lunch boxes before school tomorrow, and take out the trash, and schedule dentist appointments, and send that email to the school. And, and, and…
Of course we could ask our partners to help, but as she says, this isn’t a perfect solution because really what we need is for them to view household and child-related tasks as equal responsibility. This managerial role further adds to the mental burden we are already dealing with.
The comic so brilliantly explains the concept of mental load, and does it in a way that isn’t unfair or degrading to men, which I think is why it resonates with such a broad swath of women. I have a husband who takes on many household duties, but even by his own admission doesn’t think much about the day to day operations, unless prompted by me.
The solution to dividing up the mental load is tricky, but I think just being aware of it might make it easier to explain why the thought of prepping for an outing at the beach can feel so damn exasperating.
What do you think about the concept of mental load?
Is it divided more evenly in your house? For the full, absolutely exceptional comic, be sure to check it out on her site.