I remember one of my friends saying, “Once a woman is married, her husband’s place in her life supersedes that of everybody else’s.” I dwelled on the thought over and over, obsessed about it, until I finally met Kate, the very woman who had offered these pearls of wisdom. I noticed that much had changed, and her wisdom no longer held sway.
If you are a mother and a wife, if you are a woman who no longer opens the door to your husband with a smile and a peck once he is back from work, if you wait for him to come home so you can unburden your chest off all the frustration or simply screech at him, because you were half dead through the day taking care of home and children while the little ones almost pulled the house down or everything came on top of you at one time, then you might very well identify yourself with her.
I saw she had lost the charm she once carried. Her round and robust appearance had faded, her voice was shaky. She looked a shadow of the woman who said those very lines. Kate looked malnourished – either an extreme diet measure or she was anorexic? It turned out that responsibilities had gotten the better of her. “It’s not that all the days are the same. I do have the time for myself, my coffee, and my books. I speak to friends on the phone and pursue my hobbies. But no sooner than I take a gulp of my coffee or read a word from my book, one of the children asks me to take him to the potty or arbitrate a fight among the kids. And then the phone rings to remind me of an appointment. Or someone rings the doorbell and it turns out to be the plumber who hadn’t turned up all the while when I had waited. And while I am attending to everyone, the food gets overcooked. I eat the leftovers because I want children to have the freshly cooked food. And then I can’t eat my lunch in one go, rather have to visit the kitchen at intervals and eat from the pot in little chunks like a fish, most of the times having forgotten about my appetite – leaving me least sensitive to whether or not I am hungry in the first place.” (This was how she lost all that flab!) “Kids and home take the most of me.”
The fun and laughter is still there. But it is mostly with kids. “I have my fun time with them – playing, dancing, singing, doing a craft, baking, or cooking together. I help them with their homework. There are so many stories we get to share with each other. In the evenings, getting their homework done, driving them to music class or the sports center takes all my time.” Indeed, she was doing everything in her capacity to keep the children happy, well attended to and raise a well-rounded family – without frowning at a thing or their demands.
On the whole, she seemed to have a very balanced mother-kiddo life. But if you have been in her shoes, you will know what goes wrong. You feel like a fish out of the pond, and you spend less quality time with your husband.
“Rarely have I dined out with my husband after I had kids. Going to watch movies has become a dream. Our dates are now reduced to an unbelievably once-in-a-blue-moon thing. By the time he is home, I ask him to take charge of things so I can nap. And then we have the weekends that aren’t like exclusively couples getaways.”
What was missing were her kind words the he wanted to hear after a three-fourths of the day that he spent at pressured workplace.
Sure this woman is now divided among everybody – husband, children, and society. But what makes the situation worse for her is the indoctrination and constant belief that she was making herself a bad wife while being a good mother.
Does motherhood siphon off the goodness of a wife? And what defines being a good wife?
The role of a mother isn’t an easy one. So is the role of a wife. But the dual role of a mother and a wife is the hardest part in a woman’s life. With Kate, it seemed like her kids had emerged as the forerunners. But for all her unpleasantness, she still glues the family together, helps the normal functioning of the household and underneath all the screams has the sentiment for her husband that seems to have evolved from mere ‘romance’ to ‘devotion’. It is what I think makes a great mother and great wife. Through the years, she has given all of herself to the partnership called marriage. In achieving a closely knit family is where I guess women like Kate must stop inflicting wounds of guilt on themselves for being a good mom but a not-so-good a wife.
Have you been in situations like Kate? Have you undermined yourself as a wife while being a good mother? How did you overcome the feeling? We would love to hear from you.