As a stay at home mom, I love eBooks. At first it was just a way to save space and money–no more dusty bookshelves, and eBooks are usually a few dollars cheaper than their ink and page counterparts. But eBooks also open up a new world where bloggers and niche writers can offer targeted material that would never have been practical or profitable through traditional publishing. In other words, the Kindle store offers hundreds of informative titles written just for my situation!
Unfortunately, not everything in the Kindle store is as helpful as it would seem. I recently took a chance on a volume entitled The Good Wife’s Guide. Author Darlene Schacht takes this opportunity to support a very old fashioned, fundamental view of the wife and mother’s role in a home–a view that, for the most part, I can really get on board with! (I’d make a lousy feminist.) The thing missing from The Good Wife’s Guide was anything uplifting for those of us already enamored with this ideal. For example, she says every wife should anticipate her husband’s return from the workplace by having dinner prepared, the children cleaned up (and encouraged to stay quiet), the house neat and tidy, her own hair and makeup freshened or reapplied, and THEN have the patience not to bother her spouse with any problems she may be struggling with until he’s had a meal and sufficient time to unwind from his day. I can already hear you snickering, but I actually think it’d be nice to greet my husband in such a peaceful way. Unfortunately, it’s just outlandishly unrealistic, even for those of us who don’t find it outrageously offensive.
I read most of this book yesterday on the four hours of interstate it takes to get to and from my brother’s home in central Ohio. We were to join them for a day of backyard barbecue, and after my shoddy driving skills nearly got us killed, my husband took the reigns of our Toyota Camry.
Within a few minutes of silence, he started fidgeting with the radio. “Ugh! Do we have to? I really just want to read,” I whined. The kids started whining, too, and I tried to just ignore them and focus on my book while Marcus experimented with different techniques to make them behave more tolerably. I was in a plain bad mood when he asked if I could hook up my phone to the stereo and play us a podcast. “Really, Marcus? Come on! The kids are making us crazy, and I SO just want to read my book!”
With eyestrain from the sun-scorched highway, earstrain from my bored and noisy little babies, and the worry that the fruit salad I’d lovingly prepared was just spoiling in the back seat, the irony of my situation was lost on me in that moment. Here I was, acting relatively b**chy towards the love of my life, all because I was frustrated that I couldn’t be left alone to read my book… about being a good wife.
As ridiculous as it is, we can easily judge our skills as a wife or mother by the wrong standards. The Good Wife’s Guide spent most of it’s chapters dealing with housework, but we’ve all met women who keep immaculate homes and treat their husbands like dogs! How about the parent who never misses their child’s soccer game (good job!), but spews unkind words at every perceived failure (ouch!)?
But back to my car ride: I started to come to my senses when I paused my reading to entertain my road weary husband with Stephanie’s hilarious and heartwarming entry from this weekend. The more we laughed together, the more I realized how blessed I am to have him in my life and how spectacular it is that in the midst of our most miserable situations (like two hour road trips with screaming babes), we’re usually more likely to apologize to each other and try to cheer each other than to blame each other for our shortcomings.
The truth is, I really DO want to be that stellar housewife that greets her husband home from work with a quiet, orderly home and a kiss fresh with lipgloss. But frankly, that’s NOT what defines a “good wife”.
- A good wife lets her husband dream out loud without chiming in quickly to tell him why his ideas won’t work.
- A good wife supports her husband’s time with “the guys” and is thankful for her husband’s close friendships.
- A good wife can get jazzed about some of her husbands hobbies and interests.
- A good wife is secure enough to know she doesn’t have to be a part of ALL of her husband’s hobbies and interests and vice versa.
- A good wife does more than her share of the housework.
- A good wife doesn’t mind blowing off the housework if an amorous mood strikes.
- A good wife can enjoy an action movie from time to time and knows that Han shot first.
- A good wife is a great listener on a bad day.
- A good wife knows how to make her husband’s favorite meal.
- A good wife also has her husband’s favorite pizza place on speed dial, and his Taco Bell order memorized.
- A good wife makes her physical and emotional health a priority.
- A good wife supports his physical and emotional health, too.
- A good wife always carries the second newest iPhone.
- A good wife has grace when her husband’s not perfect.
- A good wife knows she doesn’t have to be perfect either.
I’m really good at some of these. I really suck at some of these. But being a good wife doesn’t come from anybody’s silly list. It comes from having a kind heart.
Have you ever mistaken being a good homemaker for being a loving wife? Have you ever discovered that something you do was surprisingly important to your spouse, or surprisingly unimportant?