Shortly after I began working at my first job out of graduate school, my husband, who had just completed his MBA program, called me at work one morning to say he had a job interview that afternoon, but his favorite white dress shirt was wrinkled. He asked me if I’d come home at lunch to iron it. A co-worker heard me tell him, “Sure, babe. I’ll come home for an early lunch and iron it for you.” My colleague was absolutely flabbergasted. He knew me as an independent person who didn’t mind asking for help when she needed it, but I guess he’d also pegged me as a relatively well-educated, semi-intelligent Millenial girl, so he didn’t expect me to be the kind of woman who would ask how high on the way up when her man asked her to jump (which, by the way, I’m not, but that’s how he chose to define me based on that one snippet of an overheard phone conversation with my husband). From that day until the day almost a year later I left that job to go with my husband to Michigan for him to attend law school, I was no longer called by my given name at that office. My new name was “Rowenta” after the company that makes irons because the whole office was incredulous that I would spend one of my lunch breaks ironing a shirt for my husband.
I understand completely that each family chooses its own way of making things work. As a young girl, when I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never in a million years imagined I would be a stay-at-home mom. I started my college studies as a Pre-Med student, fully intent upon becoming a physician. I honestly never even considered having children. I thought I wanted a career. I wanted to travel the world. I sure never thought I would live in a tiny town and stay home with four small children and spend my days doing laundry and dishes and shuttling kids to preschool and swimming lessons.
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology and Spanish, fulfilling a promise I made to my daddy that I’d finish college before tying the knot. Six months after walking across the stage at Houston Baptist University, I married my husband and moved from a city of two million to a town with about a quarter as many inhabitants. Very early in our marriage, Ryan and I decided together what we wanted for our future. We determined that we wanted to have children, and we knew we wanted me to be the one to care for them rather than putting them in daycare or anywhere else. The understanding that I would stay home with the kids while Ryan worked what might turn out to be long hours was mutual, and it was something we agreed upon before we said, “I do.” We knew it would require some sacrifice, and that we ‘d have to work hard to get to the place where we would be able to afford for me to stay home rather than bring in a salary at an outside job.
We made joint, conscious decisions about which graduate degree programs we would each pursue. He would do an MBA program while I got my Specialist degree in School Psychology. I chose my career path with care. I settled on my SSP because it is a very specialized degree that has enabled me to get a job easily everywhere we have lived. It follows the public school calendar, so I knew that if I did have to work when we had kids, I would be home when they were home, and if, God forbid, something were to happen to Ryan, I would be able to take care of us financially.
We agreed that after I received my degree, he would go to law school, and I’d work while he finished his education. That’s exactly what we did, and I worked until we had more kids than hands, my job didn’t pay more than what daycare would have cost, and God made a way for our dream of me being our kids’ caregiver to be realized. Each step of the way, God provided exactly what we needed at exactly the right time, and I was able to resign my position shortly before our twins arrived and just after Ryan got his first job after passing the Bar Exam.
Up until I quit working, we shared household chores quite a bit. We have always done everything we could together. Our system works for us. I’m aware that the way we do things may not work for everyone. Not every guy is as helpful as my man happens to be. Not every girl is cut out to be a stay at home mom. All financial situations do not lend themselves to allow for only one person to bring in income. I’m profoundly grateful that God has allowed me to live a life I never imagined for myself, and that He has provided for us miraculously when I honestly could not see how it was going to happen and frankly didn’t have the faith to ask.
Now, at our house, if the laundry is going to get done, I do it. If we’re going to have clean dishes to eat off of, I wash them. If a bed is going to get made, it’s because I make it. I run the errands, I do the grocery shopping, I make doctor’s appointments, and I pay the bills. I am responsible for the vast majority of the “domestic duties” it takes to keep our household running smoothly, and believe it or not, I’m happy.
That is certainly not to say my husband is a slacker.
He works 60 or 70 hours a week at his office and then brings work home, which he completes after he spends time with us in the evenings. He shoulders the financial responsibilities of providing for our family of six entirely on his own. He leaves before our children get up in the mornings, but he gets home in time to see them each night, and he’s the one who does our nightly devotions. He prays with our children and reads the Bible to them every single night before he puts them to bed. His is the last voice they hear before they go to sleep. He has changed more than his fair share of diapers, he helps me take out the trash, and he asks me every single night how he can make my life easier. He fixes anything that breaks and spends every waking minute that he’s not at work with me and our children. He helps with anything and everything I ask him to, and he does it with a smile. He’s the head of our house, and I’m his biggest fan.
A while back, as I was skimming social media, I came across this article, and I couldn’t help it, it struck a chord with me…
I may have said things a slightly different way than they were posited by the original blogger, but she’s “apparently been frozen in ice for the last 50 years” because she chooses to enjoy her role as a stay at home wife and mother? In my humble opinion, that is hardly a fair statement.
I’ll absolutely admit, I do not whistle while I work. I will not lie and say I smile as I vacuum cracker crumbs that are strewn from one end of my kitchen to the other, and I have been guilty of crying over spilled milk on more than one occasion, but you’ll often find me turning on praise and worship music and singing to the top of my lungs as I fold laundry or humming an old hymn as I make lunch for my kiddos.
For what it’s worth, I ironed that shirt because I wanted to. It makes me happy to make my husband look good, just like it makes him happy to be able to buy me a new pair of shoes or to take me out to dinner or give me the day off or to do something else for me that puts a smile on my face. I didn’t do it because Ryan is some kind of neanderthal who expects his dinner on the table by six and then doesn’t lift a finger in any capacity around the house, and I don’t think that was the intent of the post that has gotten so much negative press, either. So she posted from some handwritten notes rather than typing it out on a computer? I noticed her handwriting was neat, which is something my own mother (who, by the way, worked at least full-time, sometimes two and three jobs in addition to completing her graduate studies while I was growing up) literally forced me to practice, much to my chagrin at the time. If having nice penmanship is a sign of a weak mind, then I’m afraid I’ll have to number myself among the fragile.
Each side of every issue generally has some basis in reality, and there are extremely intelligent individuals who hail from every walk of life. My husband would say that I am a bleeding heart Republican, because there are very few issues on which I take a hardline stance. I say everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I say call me Amber, rather than Rowenta, because the choice to iron my husband’s shirt was one I made happily, and it was one I’d make again and again.