be home. be happy.
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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?
1/1/2013 01:28:11 pm
Hi, I admit that I too am jealous of my husband, I have 2 boys 6 yr old(moderate autism) and 3 yr old, my husband leaves home a bit aft 8 of a morning and gets home around 6pm at night. He then goes out to squash mon nights, we do surf club with boys (summer) tuess night, he does a PT session on wed nights, swims (in winter) on thurs nights, PT on fri nights, goes road cycling early on sat morn with group of guys, surf club in pool (winter) sun morning, then we our 6yr old does Little aths on either sat morn or sun aft (summer), I take both boys to swimming lessons and gymnastic thru week, then there are therapy sessions for 6yr old. I use to work in retail and play a team sports (which I have given up due to letting my kids do what they want/need to do for therapy/enjoyment) I have put on quite a bit of weight due to eating because of stress. The past 6mths I have be getting up before 5am to do some training and have lost about 10kg, but I can't do that anymore training on my own, I don't have any friends anymore as I just could spend time with them due to my kids and my husband can't understand why I am down depressed and jealous of his life, he is doing more now than before we had kids (he has lost 39kgs in the past 2yrs), sorry to go on but just don't know how to change the way I am feeling, everyone seems more interested in everyone else in our family than me, I just feel like I am this slave that is there to make sure everyone is where they should be when they should be there, food on the table,Lunchs packed backpacks packed, cloths washed/ironed.
1/2/2013 02:26:51 am
Hi Kas. Thanks for commenting! I understand exactly the feeling you are talking about. (That's why I wrote the blog post!)
2/7/2013 04:19:00 am
I'm an example of that earlier generation you wrote about. I am educated with a masters degree, worked early in the marriage mostly doing office work, successfully raised 2 very educated children, and supported my traveling business husband for over 30 years. Now I am not necessarily jealous of husband's career. I am jealous for another reason. When talking about other guys at work, my husband always has to tell me the "high position" thei other guys' wives have. One is an anchor woman. Another is a bank VP. I believe my husband is attracted to women who have big careers. I went back to administrative office work a few years ago and feel unfulfilled because I am capable of doing so much more. How do I start a career that pays well and is fulfilling at age 57?
2/9/2013 11:09:05 am
Jeannie, you pose a curious question. But first let me ask you one. Will having a "high powered" career be the solution to squelching this jealousy?
10/30/2013 11:21:49 am
I found this blog after searching for advice on this matter. My husband and I have the same interests and hobbies, we work/ed in the same industry and our careers are pretty much in the same area. We are young, don't have or plan to have any kids yet. We were both moving up in our careers until last year, when he was offered a position on the other side of the world. It was an adventure, a chance of something new and we took it. I had issues getting the documentation to be able to work in our new home, and after 7 months of nothing, I received my work permit. By then my husband's career had already advanced a lot, he was/is working in the company I love and living pretty much my dream. I, however, have to start from scratch, from lower job positions (that I don't like), less salary and worse conditions than before. It kills me to see that he is happy and successful in everything I dream to do and I have to start again, and I know I should be happy for him but I'm so jealous I get mad when he starts talking about work. I can't help thinking "it should be me", and I feel guilty for that.
1/14/2014 12:07:11 am
Nice blog. I am the other half in this situation. My wife is a SAHM for our 4 young boys. She hates where she is in life. She loves our boys, but often wishes she was far away. I must say that I understand her frustrations. I do try to help wherever I can and do a lot around the house. I go to work a little later so that I can help get them ready for school but then come home a bit later (her request). I have about an hour commute. Our youngest is 3 and doesnt want anything to do with the potty. The rest of the boys are in school, so thankfully, that does provide some relief for my wife. They are all boys, jumping and running around all the time. There is a ton of stress that they put on her. They tend to listen to me much better than her, which also creates animosity. I am trying my best to teach them to be respectful and loving to her, but often, I come home to stories of them not listening. I truly wish that she could find happiness. We have had recent financial problems which add to her unhappiness. Date nights are really tough to schedule and are often costly just for a sitter. I could go on an on, but its really not that different from anyone else's stories.
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