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It’s 2022: Why are we still treating moms like secretaries?

A mom's viral tweet started a vital conversation about the uneven division of labor between moms and dads.

It’s 2022: Why are we still treating moms like secretaries?

Using a calendar and answering emails aren’t skills exclusive to moms, but you’d never know that based on one mom’s recent experience inviting kids to her 3-year-old’s birthday party.

Sonya Bonczek, a publicist and mom, says she was gathering email addresses for party invitations when she noticed a disturbing trend: Every time she asked a dad for his email address, he supplied his wife’s contact information instead. Her now-viral tweet highlights one of the many sneaky ways moms are still forced to carry the mental load.

“Been running into dads of my 3-year-old’s classmates and asking for their emails for his birthday party,” Bonczek writes in her tweet. “So far, three out of three dads have proceeded to give me their wives’ emails instead. This is now a social experiment.”

Bonczek later clarified that she was just kidding about the social experiment, but her hypothesis was clear: Too often, moms are singled out as the sole family manager, even when their partners have the opportunity to be involved.

Moms and dads weigh in on the burden of the mental load

Bonczek’s tweet struck a nerve with hundreds of women who are sick and tired of being treated like the family secretary, not only by their own partners, but also by school administrators, doctors and every other person who has to contact them about their kids.

“My husband is never, ever included even though we parent 50-50 and sometimes 60-40 in his direction,” one mom writes. “Don’t get me started on how often everything finance, mortgage, etc. comes to him first, even though I’m the primary borrower and money manager.”

“Pretty much same here, with the addition that I work full time and my husband has been home with the kids for 20 years now,” another person adds. “But still, everyone contacts me first when it comes to scheduling anything.”

One mom says her husband actually works at their child’s school, yet the school still only contacts her whenever they need to send paperwork or other information. “My husband is a teacher and this fall our oldest son is starting at that school where he works,” she writes. “The school just sent out an informational email about dates and forms we need to fill out, etc. and they only emailed one of us. Guess which one?”

Dads also weighed in on Bonczek’s tweet. Some were equally annoyed to see other dads not taking a more active role in raising their kids, but others defended the idea of making moms responsible for all of the scheduling. Their excuses ranged from forgetting things too easily to assuming moms are just better at planning events. Some dads even claimed their wives might think they’re having an affair if they give their email address to another woman.

“I’d say this is to prevent ‘who is this woman you gave your e-mail address to?!’ outrages,” one dad says.

“I hate to say it, but I too pass off a lot of the networking/scheduling to my wife,” another father writes. “She’s the master of the calendar. She tells me where and when, and I get it done. I don’t want to network with kids’ playmates. I handle sports coaching, billing equipment, travel, etc.”

While it’s certainly possible that some mothers just really love planning, moms and wives aren’t inherently better at keeping a schedule or managing any other household task. As one mom points out, many women only handle the calendar because they’ve been forced to take responsibility for it when the men in their lives won’t step up.

“All these comments saying, ‘But my wife is better at that stuff.’ My husband says this,” she writes. “I’m only ‘better’ at it because I have been socialized to give a s**t about staying on top of calendar planning. Men are literally capable of learning/bothering to use Google calendar.”

The problem with the mental load

Every family has to figure out their own unique way to balance household and child care tasks, but the hard truth is that many women are exhausted.

The U.S. has some of the highest rates of parental burnout in the world, and moms disproportionately feel the strain. Research shows that moms are tasked with the majority of child care and household work, including managing the family schedule and activities. And, even when moms are the breadwinners for their families, a study shows they end up doing more of this caregiving work, not less.

People may dismiss the problem by claiming moms simply enjoy caregiving work more or are just naturally better at it, but the reality is that many moms simply aren’t given equal opportunity to opt out. As Bonczek’s tweet proves, even when male partners are given the opportunity to share the load, too often they choose to pile one more thing on moms’ plates instead.

The result is dozens of fed up, exhausted moms, like the ones in the replies to Bonczek, who are treated more like administrative assistants than equal partners. Dads are more than capable of RSVPing to birthday parties and writing things down on the family calendar, and this viral Twitter conversation is a major sign that it’s about time they start doing it.

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