Updated: Jan 11, 2020
This blog comes with a warning, just as some movies do:
"This content is for mature audiences only. Otherwise some messages may trigger you, offend you, and make you feel defensive. Must be read with an open mind for growth to occur."
Whew! Ok <<deep breaths here>>. Now I will unleash the difficult question:
What if . . . women were as concerned with being good wives as they are with being good moms???
What might change?
Once your heart rate comes back down to normal and you've refrained from throwing something or using salty language, realllllly think about that question. Have you ever thought about it?
**Important note: this is a perspective piece related to those who are in a safe and healthy environment. If a spouse is abusive in any way, or if you are a single mom, please do everything necessary to prioritize yourself and your children.**
If you're on any form of social media you are well aware of Mommy Wars. The never-ending comparison trap designed to crush the spirits of mothers everywhere. It's subtle, though. It's seeing your friend's picture of the dragon-shaped pancakes they made for their child's birthday breakfast and feeling lacking when your child was fed their favorite cereal, which was not sugar-free OR non-GMO. (Even though both children were equally happy with their outcomes.)
Or, when you "just" make a donation to your child's classroom party wish list because you can't be there in person to chaperone. (Even though both are equally needed.)
There are countless posts, books, and articles lifting up mothers across America, reassuring us we are nailing it, yet the wars continue. While I have no doubt you ARE nailing it, nothing is going to change until we change our focus. You see, as long as we are hypersensitive about whether we are in the running for the "Mom of the Year" award, as long as we are "liking" all the posts about decrying judgment over bottle feeding, and as long as we are telling ourselves our children are happy even though we <<go to work/stay home/have green hair/can't lose weight/spend time cleaning/etc.>>, our focus is still, well, on our children and their happiness and our abilities.
Stop and take a breath for a moment. Then I want you to imagine these next scenarios and notice when and where you feel tension or unease:
1. Your 5th grader forgets his homework and texts you from school. You rearrange your schedule and drop it off. Three days later your husband calls you from work, embarrassed because he normally dresses business casual, but forgot a jacket and tie for a client meeting today. He hopes you can drop it off and his meeting is in a hour! You are thoroughly annoyed, you do it, and he spends the rest of the week trying to make it up to you.
2. You spend weeks planning and prepping for your child's 1st birthday party, complete with coordinated outfits and a watermelon carved into a whale. Your spouse is a huge fan of your goulash and is wondering if you can make it on Sunday to enjoy with some football? Um, make it yourself, sweetie. You've got two hands and I've been cooking all week.
3. Bathing the children? Necessary. Doing the dishes? Necessary. Staying late in the office to finish up something for your boss? Necessary. Being intimate at your spouse's request? Optional.
How did we get here? Why is it okay to serve our children and not our spouses? Why do we strive to make our children happy and expect our spouses to make US happy?
Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that serving our spouses is somehow demeaning. Yet we never question the demeaning nature of yielding to a 2 year old's demands, being interrupted by an 8 year old, or running ragged so the teenager's discomfort level never reaches the red zone.
What if we actually wondered if we were being good wives? What if?
A really fun test would be to take time TODAY and ask your spouse with total sincerity, "Honey, what can I do for you this week that would make it a great week?" Are you met with disbelief or surprise? Hesitation? A spouse who is wondering when the other shoe is going to drop?
Yeah, that. It may have been too long since you've reached out a little. Oh, and ladies, follow through!!! If your spouse trusts you enough to divulge what would provide some joy or happiness, then DO IT! Even if you don't want to, just do it! (And no, you don't get to do it with a bitter heart, or disgusted sighs, or eye rolls. This is where the "mature audience" fits in.)
Hmmm. What if you did this every week for 4 weeks? Or 4 months? What do you imagine would change?
Maybe your family photo session wouldn't include the ever-popular "leg shot" that focuses on the child and strips parents of all identity, including a face. Maybe your child would have to wait until her parents are finished with a dinner conversation before showing you a school project. Maybe you would start enjoying finding ways to make your spouse happy more often than worrying if your child's collegiate future is compromised because they didn't get into a certain preschool.
Even if your wedding day was so long ago that the styles are already back again, remember your vows. Remember how you felt. Remember how this new person you married became the most important person in the world, above your parents and above your friends, even though they leave towels on the floor and take too long to find a parking spot. Yes, children have immediate and demanding needs, but I urge you to remember who the most important person in the whole world is supposed to be. Remembering that will change everything.