Menu

Mom’s viral OOO email captures how all working mothers feel right now

"Due to patriarchy, I am behind in emails."

Khara Jabola-Carolus out of office email

We've all been there, the moment when we have to set our out of office message and let the world know that you won't be checking your email for a certain period of time. I've done it multiple times for vacations (remember those?) and for both of my births (coming back to work from those left me drowning in email).

But what about setting one up during these unprecedented times when all of us mamas are constantly behind on email?

Well, Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, has the most perfect OOO message for COVID-19 times. After she posted it on her personal Instagram last week with the caption, "My auto response during COVID. Don't suffer silently. Mothers over money!"it has since gone viral both for her and for other accounts that picked it up.

FEATURED VIDEO

Her viral email auto-reply reads:


"Aloha:
Due to patriarchy, I am behind in emails. I hope to respond to your message soon but, like many women, I am working full-time while tending to an infant and toddler full-time. According to the Washington Post, the average length of an uninterrupted stretch of work time for parents during COVID-19 was three minutes, 24 seconds."

Slow. Clap. 👏

Working moms are so spread thin during these unprecedented times so it feels so refreshing to see someone call it as it is. This pandemic has, among many other things, shown the amount of work stay-at-home moms do day in and day out, the amount of juggling working parents have to do and just how broken the childcare system currently is.

That is why we love how this mama is not apologizing for being slow to respond. She doesn't need to. The apology should come from society. Mothers have been warning that this day would come because lawmakers and employers (and even some partners) did not take proactive steps to support moms. We cannot do it all alone. We need to prioritize. Khara Jabola-Carolus doesn't owe anyone her time or energy when she's running low on both.

The comments share the same sentiment: "The best auto response I've ever seen," reads one. "Thank you for putting it into words and encouraging us to stop hiding the cost," says another. Others chime in to say they tried doing the same and they were quickly shut down by their employer: "I put up an email away message some time in March/April that stated I was watching my infant and toddler while working full time and I was asked to remove it. 3 min 24 seconds is the sheer reality of what working parents with littles are facing right now."

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


Keep reading Show less
Shop

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money