what happened when i sent tyler a feminist comic

When I was a single mom, sometimes all I wished for was someone to help think about “adult things” so that I didn’t have to do it all the time. I made every decision, had every worry, thought about every needed thing…sometimes all I wanted was for someone else to decide what to fix for dinner.

Then I wasn’t a single mom anymore, but the decision stress still seemed to remain. I couldn’t really pinpoint what it was, because Tyler was always super willing to help out and do anything I asked. So I just kind of resigned myself to it being an inner feeling in my life.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend shared an illustrated article, “You Should Have Asked,” that talks about the mental load women typically deal with. This was my lightbulb moment. It was like all the inexplainable feelings I’d had were there, and with pictures! Although I wasn’t sure I agreed with all the reasoning behind women taking on the brunt of the mental load, I did find it interesting enough to share with my male partner.

So I sent it over chat while we were both working on our computers at home. Tyler’s first response was, “It doesn’t really seem like a comic.” In which he meant, “I thought it was going to be funny.” And then we kind of left it at that.

The next week a few packages came in the mail to Tyler. When he’d explained what he’d ordered, my first reaction was, “Why did you buy those?” The padded floor he found for Arlo is one of those weird things that makes me cringe inside. The dish brush wasn’t the one we normally buy… His response to ordering without saying anything: “I was trying to take some of your mental load.”

And then I realized that part of my mental load is brought on by myself. Maybe for all the historical reasons in the article, maybe for none of them. Either way, I realized that it will take both sides to even out the mental load. Yes, Tyler can think about doing things without being asked. But I also have to accept the help as it comes. I can’t want executive decisions to be made without me, then be upset I wasn’t consulted.

If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. If you want help from someone else, you’ve got to accept it’s going to be their version of right. Is that what the Frozen song meant? “Let it go, let it go…”

I’m also learning to say “thanks” more. Not that everything needs applause and a gold star. But for me, showing sincere appreciation helps me see where the other person is coming from (aka, not be so cynical). So maybe I would not have bought the foam mats for Arlo, but it was nice to have the problem solved without spending the time to think of how. And for that, my brain is thankful.

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3 thoughts on “what happened when i sent tyler a feminist comic

  1. Your husband thought you the wrong lesson (regardless if intentional or not) it’s a worthy lesson to be learned but it’s the wrong lesson for the situation.
    Women do on average 2/3 of the house work hour/hour, but if you ask women about their house work load what one will find out is that much of it is self inflicted neat freaking that frequently has more harm to it than the hours spent on it. The comic in question, first stuff on the page “watching the kids” (and they are kids, not babies) so make sure they eat, that’s god damn harming to the kid and a terrible sign of a pathological controlling nature.
    Overcleaning the house otherwise “the kids will get sick” has the opposite effect.
    Not to mention a bunch of other stuff that amounts to “keeping up to the johnes”.
    A good lesson in a situation like this is spending 15days with only what can fit in a small backpack and leaving the kids at a military bootcamp. That’s when you learn your house is not dirty, left overs are great, your house is not messy, your clothes are clean and the kids are ok and don’t need 24hour supervision.

    1. I think you may be reading too much into the comic’s illustrations and missing the wider point, but if these are truly your main objections I must point out that they are clearly toddlers with their one-colour, one-piece clothing, and toddlers are normally fed by adults while they learn how meals work. It’s objectively not “god damn harming” and “a terrible sign of a pathological controlling nature” to feed a toddler, and you yourself were almost certainly fed as a toddler, so please spare the hyperbole. As for “over-cleaning” a house, no one suggested that “over-cleaning” (as defined as trying to rid a house of literally all dirt) is a good thing so I’m not sure why you brought it up. Finally, “keeping up with the *Joneses” is normally defined as “acquiring material possessions to match or beat your neighbors”, not as “making sure your house is moderately clean and organized and your kids are taken care of.” It is not a bad thing to do the latter, contrary to what you seem to imply, and its certainly a better idea than running away from the problem and giving your kids to someone else to take care of, as you suggest.

  2. Thanks for the article Emily. I really agree with the idea that “it takes both sides [of a relationship] to even out the mental load,” and that we need to be accommodating and open-minded when delegating tasks to others (speaking as a man, but speaking from the viewpoint of managing projects and teams). Obviously in some/many relationships one of the partners may be lazy and feel comfortable with letting the other partner do all the work, but in relationships where both partners are willing to help and be autonomous, making sure that both partners actually have the latitude to make day-to-day decisions in their own way is important (provided that everyone is on the same page of course).

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