Working Mom’s Viral COVID Email Auto Response Is a True Sign of the Times


Few things today sum up how working moms really feel during the work-school-daycare day. That is, until one mom set the quintessential email auto-response.

Khara Jabola-Carolus, a mom of two who works as the executive director of the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women, had enough of colleagues assuming working moms were ever-flexible, without realizing everything we have on our plates. She took to Instagram with a screenshot of her email, which has since gone viral.

“Aloha,” Khara starts. “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.”

She might be onto something. With moms handling double the amount of chores as pre-COVID, and getting an average of only 2.6 uninterrupted hours per work day, emails tend to slip through the cracks. It’s on our employers and our colleagues to be more cognizant of all we’re dealing with, though there’s no way they could ever really know.

Her message should serve as a reminder for employers that while we’re working full-time, we’re also parenting full-time. Because women are often the default caregivers in most families, especially when there’s a shortage of childcare, like right now. With kids at home indefinitely, moms are quitting their jobs at alarming rates, and there’s no simple solution.

As Khara so eloquently referenced, thanks patriarchy! To employers, colleagues and all employees reading this, let this mom’s auto-response inform your decision of how urgent your email really is.


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