I need to say this for a moment.
And I want to preface this by saying I am not, I repeat not, an ideal “Proverbs 31” wife. I speak my mind, I don’t bow when my husband comes in the door, we argue (a lot), we are both the most stubborn people on the planet, I still make a lot of the household decisions, I don’t clean all the time, I lose my temper, I’m lazy, and during naptime, I’d rather check my blog instead of clean the bathroom.
“Happy wife, happy life”
But could any phrase be more sexist, more blatantly de-masculating? Sure, some men love their wives to high heaven and would walk off a cliff for them because of that love, but men deserve happiness too. And their wives’ happiness should not be at the detriment of the man or his dignity. I hear this phrase way too often, or others like it: “her way or the highway” “she’s the boss” “she rules the roost” “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”.
I went to the post office the other day to drop off some items I’m returning and other things that I sold. There were two postal workers there, at 5:20. And I was the only customer there. I began talking about my children with the kind woman serving me (I know, a kind postal worker!) and the man next to her started talking about his sweet 10 month old son.
Me: “Oh you have a 10 month old son, so sweet!”
Him: “I know, he’s so amazing, I’m so tired, but it’s worth it.”
Me: “Does he wake up a lot at night? My girl does at least once, it’s so hard, but they are only young for a short time.”
Him: “Yes, I feed him once, sometimes twice a night depending on when he wakes up.”
Me: “Wow, that’s amazing, does your wife work then, and you two switch off?” — this was a nosy question, but he was being open and didn’t mind the question.
Him: “No, she stays home.”
I was silent for a moment. A wife and mother who stays home and has her husband take care of the baby at night? This is foreign to me. And, to be honest, I think it’s wrong. By my choosing, I got up, and still get up, with my babies every night. I nursed their sweet selves back to bed, from newborn perfection and on. This got very difficult when my son was about 15 months and was getting up three times a night — my husband went into his room a couple, rare times (maybe 3?) during those difficult days, so my son wouldn’t want to just nurse. But other than that, it has been all me.
I am the mother. Was I tired? (“A monster,” as my husband so affectionately referred to me? Absolutely.) But I cherish those moments. Of course I am tired and sometimes a zombie and I’m not saying that lack of sleep is pretty or roses, but I try to see my children as 10, 15, 20 years old in that moment. When they are that age, I will never regret holding them and nursing them back to sleep. They are my babies. And it is my job, the stay-at-home mom, to care for them at night.
Me: “And you work? She doesn’t get up with him?”
Him: “She doesn’t want to get up. She is not a morning person.”
The postal worker woman: “I know, isn’t that crazy?”
Me: “Wow, I don’t want to overstep here, but that isn’t right, I stay home and I cherish my role as a stay at home mom, but my husband has never gotten up with my babies. That’s my job.”
Him: “Well, I just do it because she doesn’t want to.”
Me: “But you are making the money, you are providing for her to stay home, you need your sleep to do your job! Again, I shouldn’t overstep, please excuse me.”
Woman: “We tell him all the time, he’s so tired all the time.”
I should also say that I am a very outspoken person. It gets me trouble or a laugh — I hope that my words were at least helpful to this poor, wonderful new father.
Him: “Well you know happy wife, happy life.”
Me: “Well that’s bullshit. Happy husband, happy life, why does she get to be happy and you are at work trying to keep your eyes open? I’m sure she is a great lady, but she’s home all day, she has one child and could rest during his nap, you can’t rest, that’s crazy. Again, forgive me.”
Him: “But that’s what she wants. She says she works too.”
Me: “It’s not the same, and I think I can say that because I stay home too. You need your rest to provide for your family.”
I know way too many people who are living this same scenario. Some men want to take care of their children at night or cook dinner after a full day’s work — and bravo for them — but are most scared of their wives? Does the wife deserve more sleep than the man? Is it out of fear? Of sleeping on the couch? Of their spouse withholding sex?
Tired man. He looked at me like I had just quoted Einstein’s theory of relativity. He couldn’t believe that I’d said it. Men deserve respect. He deserves respect.
Except, when some men don’t — there are many men who don’t deserve the respect of their families — for that, there is prayer. So please don’t misunderstand — I am talking about the specific scenario of a working, committed father and stay-at-home mom. Of course there are many people in many different situations. Many of my friends work, both inside and outside of the home, and these families share household and childcare responsibilities. That is different. If the woman is also in the workplace, then there must be different expectations — I don’t believe all responsibility should be all on the woman.
I am beyond grateful for my husband. He also kicks me in the pants sometimes. He reminds me when I’m not respecting him. He reminds me that he goes to work, gets home late, and deserves to have a say in the household. I don’t like his expectations for a clean home (no, it’s not a day care, but yes, we have children, so some toys on the floor is going to happen). Sometimes dinner isn’t ready (or started), and sometimes I bought one too many things that day. (Whoops.)
I fail miserably. But I am trying. And sometimes he doesn’t notice. And sometimes he does. And I keep trying.
I cook dinner every evening. I get up with my babies. I clean (mostly, though I’ll admit that my husband sometimes washes the bathtub because I don’t do it right apparently). As stay at home moms, these are my responsibilities. (We don’t have a cleaning service, but a girl can pray and hope, right?!) There is a fine line to this — my children come first — not the chores, and my husband knows this, and is trying to accept it…. — I am not a “cleaning lady at home.”
Thankfully (he is just as outspoken as me), he reminds me that he provides for my lifestyle. He goes to work so his children can stay home with their mother to raise them. He deserves respect.
I adore him.
His sacrifice and hard work should not be taken lightly.
He should be praised and honored in his home.