Yesterday I was at McDonald's talking with an old man in his 80s named Charlie. Every Sunday morning I see him there. I go to write. He goes to socialize.
So, as usual, he wants to know what I'm writing about. I tell him I'm writing about Stay at Home Moms being jealous of their husbands. "Why would they be jealous?" he wants to know. And my words flowed so eloquently and clearly. It surprised me.
I explained to Charlie that women in my generation are raised to get good grades, go to college, start a good career, and later meet another professional man who has his crap together, and get married after first planning the entire thing on Pinterest. Then, after a few years, have one or two children and go back to work. Continue to be fabulous and rich. Sounds pretty good.
But when women raised with this mindset then decide to stay home and raise their children, foregoing the career, something bad happens. Even though it's their choice to be home, these intelligent, driven women become jealous of their husbands! It can get ugly.
The husband is living the life these SAHMs envisioned for themselves! (And they blame their husbands for taking it away from them! Oops!)
This happened to me. We moved out of state for a better job for my husband. No biggie. I'm usually up for adventure. Once we got here, though, his career really started gaining speed. He got promotions, was wined and dined, and very much respected by his coworkers. It seemed like he was really growing up and becoming a man. I liked it, but something wasn't sitting right with me. I began picking fights with him or demanding to "get some time to myself" more and more often. I don’t tend to be an envious person or one who lives with regret, but there have been times when I’ve been flat out jealous of my husband.
This jealousy used to be a big problem for me and my marriage. Only, I didn’t know it at the time! I thought the problem was my husband and whatever he was doing at the moment that might be really irritating me. I was dancing around the real issue. I assumed that having a career was the only way to develop as an adult. I assumed that I was stuck, and he was free. I assumed that being a mother and raising them was subpar and ignorant. I wouldn’t admit it to myself, because then I’d have to do something about it.
I was wrong.
I compared this hot mess of today's SAHMs with women in Charlie's generation. They were raised to take care of a husband and children. They knew what was going to be expected of them when they grew up. To a great degree, they got exactly what they envisioned. The downside is that they didn't much get a choice in the matter. The upside is that they were prepared for what life had for them. I wonder if they were better able to deal with it. I wonder if it was actually better.
SAHMs today - we look at our husband with jealous eyes sometimes. We think that we should be the ones making money, going out in the world being important, and using our degrees. It's easy to forget our original reasons for being home when we're looking out the window at our husband leaving home and doing work, while we think we are going nowhere. I know, I know ... we're doing work, too.
Yes, I held an 82-year old man captive for 20 minutes while I rattled this off. It felt good. Then last night I came up with some ideas on how to snap out of this jealous fit. First, some Gin Blossoms to get us in the mood!
So this jealousy is a problem. What do we do about it? First, I think we need to admit that we're jealous. That's is a big first step. If your husband isn't a total boob, tell him about it. Be honest. He might even be flattered, or admit that he has been jealous of you being able to stay home. Who knows!
Second, I'd challenge the reasons we're jealous. Are they true? Or is it just assuming that the grass is greener on the corporate side of the fence? It might not be. Are you really up for cut throat competition? Do you want to miss out on the attachment parenting that you love so much? Can you bear another woman holding your child when he cries? (Whoa, that just got real, yo.)
Third, I'd find something reasonable and doable that you can work on that makes use of your degree, talents, or interests. Maybe that's researching who really built the pyramids, re-reading all the classics from your American Lit course in college, or sending your breastmilk to babies in Africa whose mothers died of AIDS.
I'm telling you. You can still do important, intelligent, meaningful things for the world outside your front door. (Just please, don't forget about the kids you have inside your front door in this quest to redeem your place in this world!)
What about you? Don't be shy. Can you relate to my feelings of jealousy towards the man in your life? What have you done that helped? If you're not jealous, what ideas do you have for other SAHMs to cure the green eyed monster?
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