Why everyone needs a wife.

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Last week, my FaceBook status read, “I really, really need a wife.”

For those of you that don’t know me, I am a woman, married to a man.  No, I am not trying to spice up our love life, and I have not changed my sexual preference.  I am, in fact, a wife myself… in addition to being a mother and a full time academic trauma surgeon.

Two weeks ago, as I was sitting in my office trying to coordinate the schedules for my 3 nannies, arrange for the repair of our hot water heater, and prepare a manuscript about pulmonary embolism while taking trauma call, one of my partners walked in while on the phone with his wife.  She was out running errands, and wanted to know if he needed more undershirts or socks for work.  May sound little to some of you but me?  I just sat there… dumbfounded and jealous.  Here was a person who was #1 – out running errands for the family and #2 – anticipating the needs of another.  In other words, she was working to make her husband’s life easier.

These past two weeks have been crazy, to say the least.  Managing a trauma service with over 50 patients, a manuscript deadline, a broken water heater, a broken clothes dryer, a bathroom leaking through a ceiling, a 2 year old, a nanny who quit halfway through a 36 hour call, and, oh, did I mention my husband is in law school 2 and a half hours away and only home on weekends?  Hello, Tums, meet my new gray hair.

Anyways, I flashed back to a zoo trip that I had with the aforementioned wife of my partner a few months ago.  She is college educated, has three ridiculously cute daughters, and successfully survived her husband’s overseas deployment and frequent moves with the Navy.  Did I mention she has some mad crafting skills?  In short, I admire her.  She is organized, hard working and has hobbies at which she excels.  However, during our zoo date with our toddlers on one of my rare during-the-week days off, she expressed to me that she often felt like people looked down on her as a stay at home mom/housewife.  Because she wasn’t doing “anything” with her life, her degree.  Implying that her current roles and responsibilities had no real world value or worth.

As I sat at my desk stressed, frustrated, and not just a bit overwhelmed, I saw and felt all the worth, the value, and the privilege of having a “wife”.  Someone to be there when it starts raining from the ceiling, to cuddle your child when he is sick, to remember to buy toilet paper so you don’t have to use Kleenex (ummm, totally hypothetically speaking, maybe), and pave the way for you to be the most successful you can be at work is no small thing.  It takes your life from drinking from a fire hydrant to drinking from a nice, perfectly cool water fountain.

I can’t even tell you how much I would have paid to have had a “wife” for the past two weeks.  That, my friends, is value.

And no, this person doesn’t necessarily have to be your legal female spouse in order to be a “wife”.  This person could be your husband, your mother, your best friend, and maybe even your non-stay at home wife.  Regardless of age, gender or legal status, this is the person who helps you live life a little easier… and this person is priceless.  Now, please do me a favor.  Go hug this person as soon as physically possible.  I am guessing they have no idea their true worth, and no one likes drinking from a fire hydrant.

13 thoughts on “Why everyone needs a wife.

  1. That is the first thing I was told by female colleagues when I took my faculty job. Wish it were possible but I have learned to outsource whatever possible to a personal assistant. Completely understand where you are coming from. Good luck!

  2. I spent my first several years our of fellowship reminding my (male with wives at home) practice partners when they came off service there was edible food in the refrigerator, their underwear had all been laundered, and their house did not look like a tornado had ripped through it. It’s really hard to explain to folks the difference that support makes.
    Fortunately, in the last year my Mom has decided that she should fly in for 5-7 days in the midst of my 3-week runs on service. And yes, she is indispensable. And yes, I am phenomenally grateful. All of that “stuff” I never get to magically happens when she is here…and I come home to cooked dinner…and I worry less about how lonely my animals may-or-may-not be. Oh, and when I get off-service, there is edible food in the fridge, my underwear has been laundered, and the house does not need FEMA help.

  3. I know what you mean. Sometimes I resent my male colleagues with their stay at home wives who do everything for them and think daddy is so important and busy and clever so he can’t put the children to bed/do any jobs and he obviously has to lie in the couch with a beer.

  4. Made me smile. I used to say this exact thing all through my registrarship programme (residency): “Every women needs a wife”. My entire life outside of being a registrar (resident) had to be suspended. As it had for every woman in that department before me. Not so for male colleagues. I could not request time off call to have a wedding or taking annual leave to have honeymoon without either outright refusal and / or having my committment, right to be on the programme or my future as a surgeon being questioned. Reproduction was also put on hold. Under those circumstances it would just be irresponsible to have an offspring only to deprive it of its mother almost entirely. Again not so for the men. Almost every male registrar who studied with me got to enjoy fatherhood whenever he pleased (sometimes more than once) without ever having to consider sacrificing his career. In fact, as a man announcing your upcoming nuptials or imminent birth of your child you were assured of lots of backslapping and congratulations from superiors … maybe even an after-work drink. And when you came back from honeymoon or the birth with photos, they all gathered around & told you and each other what a jolly good fella you were. So very reassuring when ones place in the system is a ordained by holy edict. Ah to have lovely doting wives at home raising your children, cooking you meals, and commiserating with how hard your day was, serving you tea and massaging your shoulders … all while dreaming of the day they will decorate your practice, manage your admin and boast to their friends that their husband is an amazing surgeon.
    Yes … indeed we should all have wives.
    Ah well … Aluta continua, as they say 🙂

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  6. Okay I may have said the above phrase once or twice (living in a similar situation)…. But I resent. First it attaches a sex to the all important job of keep a family unit (the most significant form of order in soceity) functional. Anyone can do it… Well that is if your are selfless and an outward looking person who sees the value in THE job. Second the job (of being a wife/mother/kisser of wounds etc.) is so important how could someone take it from you? Maybe you need a secretary, house cleaner, chauffeur, chef, etc.; you could get these people to help. I get the need because I live it but is it really funny to say “I need a wife”? when you are a woman who works in and out of the home.

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  8. http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/annabel-crabb/the-wife-drought-9780857984265.aspx

    I’m a final year (Australian) general surgical resident with two kids and one on the way, someone just linked me to your blog – awesome! There is a book about this exact issue – just thought I’d share cos I don’t know if it made it to the northern hemisphere.

    I’m just killing time on the interwebs while waiting for my toddler to fall asleep so I can sleep too, having come off a 36 hour shift with two 1 hour naps in there somewhere. Excuse me if I nod off mid post, but thanks for the solidarity!

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