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GRAVY

  • My first novel started with a mole. Yes, a MOLE - a freckle, a birthmark, whatever you want to call it.
  • I was at the pool with my daughter getting ignored by our swim instructor when a lifeguard with a particularly ripped abdomen walked by. He stopped to flirt with one of the female lifeguards and my eyes flew directly to an adorable mole on the top can of his six-pack.
  • "How cute!" I thought (among other things). "He looks like a character in a romance novel!"
  • So I went home and started writing fiction for the first time. That was over a year ago and I still haven't been able to stop. GRAVY is the story of a suburban housewife who wants another baby, but gets a man with a mole instead.
  • GRAVY is now available on Kindle and Nook!

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« Gastric Bypass Surgery, Part 9 of [Many] | Main | On becoming more like my mother... »

November 11, 2008

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allie

In college I would have never guessed that I would be agreeing with a post like yours. So politically incorrect. But so true in my world.
My parents and my husband's parents have both been married over 50 years. I used to distain the way my mom and mil would make all the meals, clean the house etc. Now I get it. The biggest challenge is to do it without acting like a miserable nagging beeeech.

Sally

I also agree in principal with a lot of what you have to say - our household runs almost exactly the way yours does and I, too, have not had any outside help at all (not even a Francisco!).

However, the main bugbear that festers with me is the idea of having an official end-of-day. My husband is self-employed and so has both the luxury and the downside of being able to work whatever hours he wants - at busy times he is BUSY and works very long hours and at other times it is a much shorter day. The point, though, is that when he has finished for the day he really has finished and can then switch off, sit on the sofa and do whatever he wants. My "duties", however, have no natural cut-off point and there is always more laundry (etc) to be done!

Tracy

You know, I really get where you're coming from on this. My DH has had this attitude on occasion, and it's SO hard for me. Initially, it was because I felt like he didn't understand that I was actually making a sacrifice of my own to stay home. I'm in Info tech - if you don't stay up to date on what's going on, you might as well have never worked - you lose it. So I'm at home, with his three children and my daughter, with our baby on the way, loving being a SAHM, but resenting that my career future is draining away, while my husband bitches about how hard his day is and totally doesn't respect that mine might have been too.

I wish I could adopt your view on it. I think a lot of marriages would be better if we could get over the resentment.

Christine DiBona

Uhhhhh, so you're saying *YOU* should change, that *you're* (also) solely responsible for the emotional health of the relationship? No, that really doesn't work for me - grownups figure it out and both compromise. I feel for you, after years of financial independence, I am bemused to find myself doing such sterotypical female work at home. But in a year I go back to school and I've been WAY upfront about my concerns about having to do the "second shift" work all by myself. And we will work it out, a step at a time. We're already doing it with charts (yes charts) about laundry, and schedules - it's kind of shocking how little my husband learned about housework as a kid. And that's also the big stick for both of us: we want our boy and girl to BOTH grow up knowing how to take care of themselves and their homes, inside and out, the physical and emotional. If we can't do it, can't try to work towards a better more caring relationship with each other, what are we modeling for them. Do you really want your girl to grow up thinking that her first responsibility is to clean house, and your boy to think that only girls clean and cook? Really? That the work of the home is less valuable (or less exhausting, or has shorter hours) than outside work? That money is the last word in everything? Really?

Sally

'official', even!

Emily

OH YES, you said it. I struggle with that internal resentment too. For us, it comes down to the fact that my husband actuall would do more around the house if I told him what I needed from him. I've given up on things like getting him to put his shoes away or his clothes in the hamper, but those things only take me 5 seconds to do, so I've decided to be okay with that. But when I get angry that he had 20 minutes of free time before he left for work and used it to get online instead of emptying the dishwasher while I was taking care of the kid? All I should do is say, Would you mind putting away the dishes? Because nine times out of ten, he's willing to do so, I just have to REMIND him that it's something he could do to help.

My problem too is that I don't ask for help because I like things done A Certain Way. OMG I have GOT to get over that, don't I??? (I KNOW I DO.)

Like you though, I try to remember that it is a priviledge to stay home, and that housework and cooking falls to me because it is part of my job. I do have several freelance projects that I do after D comes home though, so I expect him to pitch in then because my day isn't over so his can't be either. Not if he wants to benefit from the money I bring in. :)

Kendra

I totally agree with you. I work full time as does my husband. Whenever he comes and I ask him to help with our kids, he usually replies that he would just like to relax. Took me a long time to realize that he meant for a few minutes and that then he'd do the trash. I think husbands and wives should always remember that their spouse doesn't have it better, they just different jobs.

Stacy

My husband recently gave me a similar answer. I reacted pretty much the same way you did. I try to remember that this (staying home) is the JOB I choose and every job has pluses and minuses and unstated expectations. It is hard sometimes not to through a shoe a him though!

Brandy

Amen to that sistah!

Wayne and I have these issues a bit and we don't even have kids yet! I am very lucky that he does help out around the house somewhat. But, once old unemployment runs out, he feels that I should work - even when we have kids. The Wayneman has a hard time seeing that my taking care of EVERYTHING around here (whether I work or not) is a contribution. Just because it isn't a financial contribution doesn't mean it isn't a contribution.

Men... it's hard to get them to see that. I think mostly they are just a bit jealous when we stay home. I told Wayne, wait till we have kids - you wouldn't last two days if you were the stay at home parent! LOL! We shall see! :)

Amanda

Christine, I think it's important for me to say a few things. My kids are growing up with a college-educated mom who technically works from home as a writer. And YES, I absolutely think that cooking and cleaning are LESS VALUABLE than being a lawyer. Which is why lawyers cost $250 an hour and maids cost $15. But you're missing the point, it's not about the money AT ALL. It's about the emotional stress of our jobs. Managing the house is not hard for me. His job is. Someone has to compromise and I think since I'm the one complaining, it should be me. I absolutely plan to go back to work full time someday, probably in the next few years, maybe even next year and I sincerely hope that will alleviate some of my husband's work stress.

Most importantly, I plan to teach my daughter AND my son that they can do anything they want with their lives. My choices are not theirs. My mother never taught me how to cook and clean! I got my professional edge from working for and learning from my dad. Gender is completely irrelevant!

Type (little) a

Hell, I went back to work after 2 years at home and 99% of the things that keep our little existance spinning fall to me.

He knows it's too much for me, he's glad that I prioritize childcare over cleaning, but his answer to EVERYTHING involves finding/paying someone else to help me. If I want him to come to the grocery store or help me carry it in from the car, his answer is that I should have used peapod.com.

He does not take the trash out, though he does handle the bill paying. So there's that.

I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with you either.

Sheryl

Amanda, no arguments that you do a TON. But plenty of woman are doing a TON as well, without the help of a housekeeper, gardener, etc. And with a TON less financial resources.

jonniker

I think vilifying Amanda on any level is missing the point. She's not making a vast statement about womenkind and/or saying she has it worse than anyone, she's talking about what works for HER and how SHE can make herself happier.

Amanda doesn't strike me as the kind of person who will raise her daughter to be subservient to a man and whose only skills should be to cook and clean.

Her comment back to Christine makes perfect sense to me, as does the original post.

(Also, hi, Amanda! I'm talking about you in the third person! How awkward!)

Julie

I think the resentment comes when we don't feel appreciated. That comment he made was extremely rude and as a wife I would want to know if that's how he truly felt or if he was just having a bad day. I struggled with being a stay at home Mom and that comment would have really made me feel bad.

Marie

I think this problem is rampant and the cause of many arguments in a marriage. I think you are far from alone and I hope you don't think that the work of a Stay at Home Parent is of any less value that their spouses "real" work.

With all due respect, you don't need to "shut up and be happy" your husband needs to show YOU some respect. But then again I don't place any more value on someone being a lawyer or think that their job is "harder" than any other profession. There are many people out there that go to work every day, work long hours and still manage to contrinute to the houselhold.

You even said yourself in your post that your mother did and does the same thing in her marriage, that you have never seen your own father cook an egg for himself. Your seem to be following that example and you seem to be willing and happy (begrudgingly) to fall right into that traditional, albeit archaic role. Therefore setting the example that women are expected to "shut up and be happy" because their husbands are out WORKING. You also later responded that you are going to teach both your son and daughter that they can be whatever they want to be, well didn't your mom teach you the same thing? How is this not setting an example for your own kids on the roles of men and women?

Why shouldn't Dave want to set a good example, does he just want to be viewed as the breadwinner and set the example that men work and then come home and watch tv and wait for dinner to be served.

The 1950's called, they want their sitcom back!

Becky

Speaking of resentment, I resent the fact that you think you do so much more than the average SAHM. I don't think most of us have help, and I think most of us wear pretty close to the same number of hats that you do.

That being said, I have a couple issues with what you said. Cooking, cleaning, kids, bills, yada yada yada, I agree with you there. But there isn't really an excuse for him being a slob, unless you LET HIM be a slob. My father grew up in a household like yours, and when he threw his socks on the floor and expected them to appear magically clean in the dresser, my mother told him in no uncertain terms that the socks would remain where he left. Period. My dad didn't even realize what he had done, because his mother spent her life teaching him to act like that. My mother taught him how to be an adult.

How you work the rest of the responsibilities of your marriage and household are up to you, but that kind of slovenly behavior is disrespectful to you and your family (in my opinion, of course).

Brenda

I think it's this statement right here that got me:

"In fact, I know very few stay-at-home moms who do as much as I do without help."

You live in a very small world. There's a whole world of women out there that don't have the resources that you do that do everything you mentioned plus work or go to school or both. Somedays I like your writing and some days I don't.

Lia

I agree with a lot of what you said but I also disagree that you should just "shut up and be happy." You need some more appreciation.

Also, maybe he doesn't need to cook or clean because that is "your job" but throwing a paper towel in the trash or putting his socks in a hamper is really not too much to ask.

For me running my household is much more stressful than my job before kids BTW.

Kristy

I am currently in a psychology course where we are discussing the division of labor in marriage and we have come to the overall conclusion that the reason why women do the things they do (overwork themselves to death) is because we equate it with our own success. We want our homes to be perfect, especially if we are stay at home mother's. (I did the s.a.h.m. thing for 2 1/2 years when my son was a baby..it was harder than any job I got paid for..worth it but HARD!!!). In addition to this women work hard at home and it defies our understanding that a man would throw his socks on the floor with disregard or a "sweaty paper towel on the clean kitchen counter". We are especially keen on keeping a perfect house when this defines us entirely (ie when not working outside of the home).

Both my husband and I work fulltime jobs. On my days off I clean the bathroom, wash laundry, mop floors and vacuum. My husband works more hours than I do (by his choice not my prodding) and yet on his days off he fishes with his brother or lays on the couch throwing his dirty shirt on my carpet.

These things used to really peev me off. And now....they don't. I do what I want to do for my reasons and I overlook his dirty shirt,socks, papertowels (yes my husband does this paper towel thing too!) and I pick them up only if I choose to.

One day he advised me that my desk job is far easier than his manual labor job. (the brain versus the muscles argument). I decided that day to write a list of all the things I did at work and then I documented all the things I did at home that same day. I gave my husband that 4 page list and asked him if we could trade jobs. He immediately stated that no we could not because my job's sucked. He now says thank you when he see's the bathroom cleaned, his laundry washed, etc. When I ask him if we can go to MY favorite restaurant he now concedes and I win.

I think the entire world has this problem you speak of. I imagine if your husband hired a nanny for two children, a housekeeper, a dry cleaner, a chef, etc. etc. he would go in the hole fast. Next time you get mad, provide him with a bill for your services. Do so with humour. I did this in my first marriage....he paid the bill and never again complained. He (the now ex-husband) now tells me his second wife does not measure up, can't cook as well, never cleans behind the furniture, etc. etc. Go figure..he had to get another wife to find out how great he had it in his first marriage. He now begs me for recipes and wants to know what I used on the sheets to make them smell so good. I laugh and refuse to offer up that valuable information for free.

Kristy

p.s. just wanted to say that you are no less valuable than your husband. Not now..not if you work...not ever. A maid's salary is not the same as a Mother's worth.

Kristy

I also wanted to say that I agree with the other's here who speak of being a fulltime stay at home mother with far less resources than you have. When I stayed home with my son, we had one car, a car that my then husband drove back and forth to work. We paid the bills and there was no money left. I had no extra's, no clothing allowances, nothing. I had no one coming to do the yardwork. I did it myself with a baby to watch. I struggled and gave up everything to be a stay at home mother. In this area, I agree that your husband provides far more than many in the way of financial support. However, I still feel that you are not "less than" him in worth. I think you respect him and he respects you only when you remind him to.

Amanda

Y'ALL: When I said I do more than the average SAHM without help, I meant WITHOUT MY HUSBAND'S HELP. Most of friends do just as much as I do, only I hear them tell me how their husbands ALSO sometimes do their own laundry, help with the dishes, mop floors and even make sure their wives get alone time. I GET NONE OF THAT. That's all I meant. I didn't mean to start some big class warfare thing. (Although my response to that is: SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT TAX BRACKET). I currently pay NO ONE to do any part of what is essentially my job, so aside from the fact that we've arranged our life and made difficult choices so I can stay home right now, our resources are completely irrelevant to this discussion. Also? THE SECRET IS OUT: I AM SPOILED. Ya think? But this is my blog. About me. Sorry if that part offends you.

A theme I'm sensing here and one that honestly? PISSES ME OFF is the idea that children are somehow given ONE choice in life: to do EXACTLY what their parents did. I'm sorry but NOT IN THIS COUNTRY. I don't care WHO you are, you don't have to be what your parents were.

I hate to see people fall into the “role model” trap. I watched my mother (my FEMINIST mother) cook and clean my entire life and SOMEHOW I still managed to grow up, go to University (self-paid) and get a job in a very well paying profession (which I plan to return to).

The archaic thing is to believe that ANYONE has to do exactly what their parents did.

My daughter would only believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen IF I TAUGHT HER THAT. And obviously, I never would, just like my mother always taught me that I could do ANYTHING I wanted. Gender roles only matter to your kids if you TELL THEM they matter. Who would DO THAT?

Kristy

You're wrong...he is helping in "his own way". He is providing all of the finances to fund your stay at home mother activities. He's working so you can sit on the internet all day. Oddly I think the thing that urks me sometimes abuot all of your entries and twittering's is that you are a stay at home mom who spends a great deal of time in front of a p.c. etc. instead of engaged in your children you are engaged in your commenters.

My mother was a stay at home mother and yet she was miserable. She sat around all day drinking pepsi, eating candy and complaining about my father who worked full time to provide her with a "spoiled" lifestyle.

You say your education is self paid however, you have stated previously that you and Dave are still paying for your school loans. So, he's paying for your college degree that you are currently not utilizing. Wonder how much resentment he has?

Betsy

I don't think anyone's saying that you're teaching your children that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. I think it's your statement that "I need to just shut up and be happy" that is bothersome. You're not necessarily TELLING your kids this, but by your actions you're SHOWING them that this is what women should do. Paging Betty Draper, indeed.

You DO work hard, and you DO deserve respect from your husband. That's all anyone here wants for you (and themselves).

lg

Well, all these responses are kickin' the bees nest, huh?

Here's the part that flicked my nerve: "No. I have to WORK. I'm WORKING. It's not like I'm home reading magazines like you"

IMHO this is a profoundly disrespectful comment to say. To anyone. Ever. Especially to your partner.

My guess is that when your husband is especially stressed and working extra hours, you understand and try to rise even more to the occasion. I think that it's reasonable for him to be able to put your needs ahead of his own sometimes.

Why does your job have continuous 24/7 hours? My FIL proudly says that he's never made the bed in 51 years marriage. They have a very clear division of labor. Which is fine. All couples divide up the work. But to not pitch in when the other person is in the weeds...Not helpful to the marriage.

This problem will continue to grow. Your kids will grow up and have homework...and science fair projects and will need help to construct the solar system out of macaroni shells.

I just want to say that shutting up and sucking up are very bad ways to deal with conflict in a marriage.

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