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.

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Housewives vs Stay-at-home Moms

Like another blogger has stated, my child is not the center of my universe, my world, or my life, or however you want to say it.

Let me explain.  I love my child with every ounce of my being.  Especially after having fertility difficulties, we feel insanely blessed to have a happy and healthy child.  Now that being said, he is not currently, nor will he ever be the center of my universe.

I firmly believe that in order to be the best wife, mother, sister, daughter, or surgeon that I can be, I have to be the best person I can be.

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Image courtesy of http://www.hostesscakes.com.

Okay, so what the hell does “being the best person I can be” mean?  For me, it means feeling fulfilled.  My child absolutely adds to my sense of fulfillment, but so does being an trauma surgeon with an academic career, running half marathons, reading US magazines while eating Twinkies that I (may) have hidden from my husband, going to church, having road trips with my girlfriends and cheesy date nights with my husband.

The moment our vernacular changed from housewives to stay-at-home moms, it seems that our culture now expects every single waking moment of every mother to revolve around her child(ren).  The term housewife implies a number of roles and responsibilities that involve the needs of the entire household, not just its junior members.  It seems to me that stay-at-home moms are now supposed to entertain their offspring with an endless number of field trips, learning activities and developmental stage appropriate crafts in order to be worth her weight.  I honestly don’t remember a single staged “craft activity”, outside of school projects, from my childhood.  I mean, we had crayons and Play-Doh.  Although I am admittedly not an expert with a glue gun I don’t think I have been otherwise negatively affected by this.

I am not currently always physically present for my child – I miss some skinned knees, tummy aches, smiles and laughter.  Do I feel guilty about that?  Yes and no.  Yes, because of course there is a part of my heart that rips a little bit when there are days my child only sees me over an iPhone.  But also no, because I know that my career, my hobbies, and my friends make me a happier person.  This inner happiness and fulfillment allows me not only deeper and more meaningful interactions and relationships with my family, but also makes me a more patient and loving mother.

So why the hell am I writing this?  Maybe a little to remind myself that even though I am currently on call for the 5th weekend in a row, I am still a “good” mommy.  But mostly for all my fellow members of this magical club called motherhood.  Where, once membership is granted, it can never be undone.

Give yourself a break.  F&% Pinterest, make a really ugly cake for your kid’s birthday or heaven forbid, buy one from the grocery store.  Drop your child off at a playgroup just because you want to eat lunch without a small human stealing your food or pooping their pants.  Lock yourself in the bathroom and give yourself a pedicure.  It is OKAY.  You are entitled to your own wants, needs, desires and dreams outside of and separate from your offspring.  They will absolutely benefit from having a happy and fulfilled mommy instead of a strung out always-feeling-like-a-failure mommy.  And after all, because at some point, they are going to have learn, they not only are not the center of your universe, but they are not the center of anyone else’s universe, either.