Friday, February 22, 2013

An old fashioned marriage

 I remember reading one of those super funny articles that was written 50, 60, or 70 years ago in a publication like Good Housekeeping or Better Homes and Gardens that resurfaced and made its way into the email forwarding scene a few years ago.  It was forwarded on to me and I read it.  It was titled something like "30 Duties of a Good Wife."  I remember some of my female friends responding with incredulous surprise and were very put out at what a good wife in the 1940s or 50s should have been doing to earn this title.

I, on the other hand, was not so surprised or put out by too many of the statements.  That is because I did many of them.  One statement in particular that comes to mind was "About 15 minutes before your husband gets home from a hard day of work, go reapply your makeup and lipstick, make sure your hair is in order, and make yourself presentable and attractive to your husband."   Another one I remember went something like "Engage your children in a quiet and peaceful activity, so when your husband enters the house, he will find peace and well behaved children."  Let me share just one more - "When your husband comes home from the office, greet him at the door with a cold drink and usher him to the sofa you have prepared for him.  Offer to take off his shoes and rub his feet while he tells you about his day at work."

Okay, I confessed I did many of the tasks on the old fashioned list, but rubbing his feet is not one of them!  I do however have the kids pick up the house really quickly before he gets home.  Matt doesn't need to see the mess of baby toys all over the living room and tractors strewn down the stairs.  He doesn't need to see the clean laundry folded on our bed, nor the homework scattered across the bar in the kitchen.  I also go to the bathroom right before Matt gets home and spiff up, fix my hair, and even brush my teeth. Honestly.  I love a good smooch as he comes in the back door when he gets home.  I also change my shirt into one that has not been spit up on, pooped on, or dinner smeared on it.  Does Matt notice?  I doubt it, probably not.  But I do.  It makes me feel better about doing 'my job'.

Our marriage can seem to others in this day in age, a bit old fashioned to modern people.  Matt goes to work at 6:30 every morning and gets home at 7:30 or later every night.  I work at home, doing everything that needs to be done here.  At least 3 or 4 nights out of the week, when Matt gets home from work, the kids and I are sitting at the table with a hot meal waiting for him.  Honestly, the kids can be sitting there for 10 minutes while we wait for their dad.  We talk while we wait.  The anticipation of their dad coming home is so intoxicating that they can barely sit still, but they do.  Sort of.  When we hear the garage door open, sometimes they get up from their chairs and run to the back door to greet him or even hide with smiles on their faces, while I say "Guys, hurry, sit back down, here he comes!"  That is my job.  That is part of what I do.  That is what I expect of myself as part of my job.  Matt doesn't expect it of me, but I do.  A few nights a week, schedules are crazy and the kids eat before Matt gets home.  However, there is still a hot meal waiting for the man when he gets home.  I felt badly the other day when that 'hot meal' was just a few cans of Hormel Chili warmed up and homemade cornbread.  But, everyone seemed to enjoy it and it made a hectic day easier.

Everyone gives their best work and performance at their place of employment, well, at least they should.  I try to do that as well.  When Matt and I were first married, we both went to school and got our undergraduate degrees.  We both worked so hard during the summers (we were both fire fighters and worked for the USDA Forest Service) that we didn't have to work during the school years, we just focused on school (and each other).  When I graduated and Matt entered vet school, I went to work while he went to school.  When he graduated from four years of vet school, he got a job, and we became parents 9 months later.  I stayed home.

That was always the deal we had with each other.  I have renewed my teaching certificate through the state of Utah 5 times already.  I am keeping that little piece of insurance up to date and ready to use if needed, but hopefully it won't be for some time.  I do plan on going back to work and teaching school part time in awhile, but right now, this old fashioned marriage relationship works for us.  We make it work.  We live within our means.  We don't have toys.  No 4 wheelers, no camp trailers, no snowmobiles, no boat, no daycare to pay for either. We like it that way.

It is hard for some people to understand.  I hear many phrases like "Man, Matt is so lucky.  He gets a good home cooked meal more often than most husbands."  Well, maybe.  He is also so lucky that he has never done a load of laundry, cleaned a bathroom, done dishes, vacuumed, balanced the check book, canned green beans or weeded them, and many other household duties that I take care of.  But you know what?  I am so lucky as well.  I get to stay home and take care of my 4 little pieces of heaven, I get to help them with homework, hang up their clean clothes, prepare them meals (that they sometimes don't want to eat), I get to hear stories of how school was that day, I get to take pride in a job well done at my house, and I even get to sew a few fun quilting stitches when I get the chance.  I am lucky enough to do this because Matt takes his job seriously. His job as a veterinarian, father, husband, patriarch of our home, and my friend.  I am lucky and hopefully Matt hears phrases like "Man, Rachel is so lucky.  She gets to stay home while many mothers juggle way too many jobs."

One thing that makes my job feel like a 'real job' is that I get dressed for work everyday.  I am not the person that wears sweats all day every day, or even just unders.  I shower every morning, I get dressed everyday in jeans, boots, and a shirt (occasionally that may not happen until 10 am or so), I put on make up everyday, I do my hair everyday, although sometimes it isn't done to perfection every day, but I get ready for work everyday.  I prepare for work just like someone who works outside of the home prepares for work.  It helps me take it more seriously.  I do have an important job!

An old fashioned marriage and relationship won't work for everyone, actually, not very many people at all.  But it works for us.  We make it work.  We both take our jobs seriously and get things done that need to be done.  Hopefully our kids see us both trying and working hard, doing our respective jobs in love and happiness.

I think I found it!  This is what I read a few years ago that sparked this post.  Well, and a few recent conversations with friends where I felt I had to explain myself and why I was the one to fix the flat tire on the bike, take care of the leaky sink, patch and paint the little hole in the wall, service the furnace, and other household duties.  I am not trying to attack working mothers, because I am amazed by you all, I am just defending myself and what works for us.  Granted, I would love it if Matt could fix that flat tire and remove the training wheels, but he is working, for us. So, I am working for us as well.


Anonymous said...

You, my dear, sweet daughter has the hardest job of all. Yes, Matt works hard at his job, your siblings and their spouses work very hard, as does all of us. BUT raising those 4 little pieces of heaven is the hardest job around. I know, I been there, done that. We all go out every morning to do our jobs that pays the bills, so we can live as we like, and thats all good, because we do have to have money to live. But staying home, raising those kids, teaching them right from wrong, and just being "mom" is a hard job. Your sister would love to stay home with her kids,,,,,well maybe work part time, she has about as much patience as her mother. So, if the old fashioned thing works for you, then do it,( but Matt really needs to learn to cook,,,lol)


Cherlelynn Bednar said...

So agree with you Rachel. I loved being a mom as my full time job.

Jenn said...

You inspire me. When I started reading this I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if she's talking about the same article I read. If not I should find it and send it to her." Then you quoted the things I remembered the most out of the article. Funny-- I don't know where I saw the article but I think about it often.

Spencer's Adventures said...

You're awesome, Rachel! I haven't looked at blogs forever, but I am glad I read yours tonight! Thanks.


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