found a gaping gender divide recently in my very own household. I stumbled into
it when our daughter started attending a very social preschool. Once school
started, my inbox was inundated with invitations from the other mothers: Anyone
want to do yoga? A new cooking class started if you care to join us! Play date
at the park after school—everyone's invited. I suddenly had new social
invitations, which felt more like obligations that I had to contend with almost every
was a dilemma.
If I said no, I worried that our daughter would be ostracized
because I wasn't doing my part socially. If I said yes, I knew I would end up
frazzled and behind with my own work. Either way, I worried about the potential
downside of my decision.
kept telling my husband how stressed I felt about balancing our new social
obligations with our already existing commitments. He listened compassionately,
but he didn't understand. After all, these new social obligations were my
territory. What did he know? I was the one who already knew every mother's
name, her profession, and whether she was into yoga or spinning. My husband
knew the name of only one other father, and that was because they knew each
other before school started.
final blow came last week. Tuesday night was the Moms' Club dinner that I was
unable to attend because we had an out-of-town guest visiting. I waited until
the last second to click my "no" response on the Evite. The morning after the
dinner, I saw the moms animatedly rehashing the fun night and chatting about all the free
champagne. It seemed like every mother attended except for me. Again,
there was that familiar fear that my failure to show up for the mom's stuff
could have some trickle-down effect for my daughter.
He never had to wring his hands in worry about how his social decisions might affect our children.
same week, the Dads' Club hosted its fall get together at a sports bar. I
asked my husband if he was going. His answer: "What Dads' Club?" Not only did
he notknow about the event, he didn’t know that the Dads' Club existed.
When I looked up his event on our school calendar, I realized two things: 1) There was no RSVP for the event because it was simply "show up if you want," and 2) only a handful of dads ever attend.
Oh, the unfairness! Do you think my beloved gave a second thought to missing the
Dads' Club event? He never had to wring his hands in worry about how his social
decisions might affect our children.
have heard other mothers complain about the differing social pressures on
mothers and fathers. The common refrain is "Dads have it so easy." It's hard to
argue with that generalization when it comes to socializing in a school
community. When my email pings, I brace myself for the cascade of guilt that
will follow if it's something that I am not able (or not interested) in doing
with the other mothers. My husband never anticipates that one of his emails
will result in the crushing guilt about whether his actions are adversely
affecting our daughter's social life.
if you ask me, that's not fair. Just once, I want him to worry about
declining an invitation to join a fitness boot camp or get a group manicure. I
know it will never happen, but I still long for more gender equality in this
area. I won't hold my breath, but I will continue to send him copies of all the
emails I get so he can appreciate the magnitude of the issue.