Below is a post I wrote two years ago – March 29, 2010 – about being a wife. I think Lisa Belkin is either running out of topics or is just having fun baiting people on this topic because I wrote this in response to something she wrote for the NYT Motherlode blog back then…and now she’s covering it again two years later on her new blog with HuffPost. When I wrote this, I had just recently quit working full-time and was still very burned out from work and just sort of enjoying adjusting to a completely different life of being home with my 2 kids. Now two years later, I’m doing a lot more “work” that I get paid for but I’m still doing it from home. My thoughts on this topic – which are essentially this: What in the world is wrong with the word wife – remain the same – whether I am bringing in any income or not. Might it be because I have a sort of partnership with my husband that feels fair to us – trust me, I wasn’t going to say “balanced” or “equal” because if I tried to lead you to believe he knows how to find clothes in the 3-year-old’s room or runs off to the grocery store with a list running through his head – I’d welcome you to come burn and pillage my front yard. So after exploring working moms the other day, I offer you some retro-WM on WIVES.
I feel like on a pretty regular basis, I read articles lambasting the idea of being a “wife.” Often they tread lightly around the issue of how this might also imply being a mother-at-home with little or no regular income. But generally, what I read, is a distaste for the idea of being a wife. Usually women are writing it. And each time I am confused. I’m never clear on why being home all day, raising your kids, keeping the house going, getting the groceries, dealing with laundry, playing with the kids, etc – why these are bad things?
I think for some people it can be super draining and boring but for others, it’s not. It just depends. I fall in the “it’s just not” category.
And then I read Lisa Belkin’s piece in yesterday’s NYT Magazine, “The Marrying Kind”, and I felt like while she was headed towards lambasting the notion of a wife, she just flirted with it and then, to my surprise, moved on to suggest that a new generation of women might enjoy being a wife.
Who says that generation doesn’t exist now? So let’s review – I have officially been home full-time for one year now. And I still love it. People still dance around it – with the leading question – are you BORED?
If you ask me this question then you haven’t spent all day, every day, for weeks and months on end, tending to 2 small children. Mine are almost 4.5 years and 16 months.
But I think the bigger question for others isn’t that I’m bored with my time during the day, most people know 2 small children is a ton of work, it’s that I’m bored not using my brain. Au Contraire Mon Frere. And here’s why I can say this with such confidence – I chose to leave my career. I was lucky enough to have the option, financially, and I was ready. That’s the crux of it. I didn’t feel pushed out, I didn’t feel like I had no choice, and I wasn’t just sort of wavering out there in professional confusion. I feel like this is what gets skipped over so frequently by the media, by researchers and even by friends and colleagues. I left my career after a strong run that I was really proud of, I wrote speeches for CEOs, attended White House Correspondents Dinners, helped manage media crises for a big industry in high profile moments in time, and sat through plenty of painful staff meetings and technical meetings that ran on into perpetuity. I left when I was ready and I left when I felt fulfilled. I felt like I didn’t have anything big to prove any more. I felt proven.
I also left at a point in time when I knew that to keep going would mean the next level – and the next level would mean more time away from my family and more time at work – not something I wanted. Some do. I didn’t. I did only before I had children.
So I am happy being a wife. I love that this week is spring break and I have activities planned out each day for my kids, ranging from easter egg dying parties to cherry blossoms and White House sight seeing, to the playing at the park in the warm sunny 70 degree weather. When I think about work, I think about internal politics, difficult bosses, meetings that waver from agendas and waste everyone’s time and stupid deadlines. So would I rather being doing laundry and drawing cats and dogs for the 5,000th time, or would I rather be sitting in a staff meeting listening to that one person who loves to hear themself talk, drone on for an extra 20 minutes?
For me, the answer is real easy. Being home is fulfilling, exciting, challenging and exhausting in an entirely different way than being at work. And being here is a privilege every day and a choice I made without reservation. It fascinates me that so many in the media have such trouble realizing that liberated, educated, intelligent women can choose to be a wife and love it.
Belkin talked about how a new generation of women might be embracing the role of the wife and that is due, in part, to the attitudes of the men they are with – these men welcome responsibilities at home, making appointments, attending school events, juggling household duties. So the women can pass off some work to their husbands, and we can buy frozen pie crusts and farm out housework to a cleaning lady. Again, a new generation of women is doing this? Or this is already happening? Cause I’m pretty sure we are well entrenched in that reality over here in my house.
I’d love to stop seeing pieces on how being a “wife” is a bad thing. It seems so out-of-touch to me.
As always, if you’d like to hear more on wife-hood and the short-comings of husbands, among other such titillating subjects, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma FB page. Otherwise you are missing out, friend.