Love ’em or leave ’em, the guys on Duck Dynasty have some funny things to say. Captain Laser Pants and I have many belly laughs while watching the show. One quote I heard from Phil, the patriarch, though, stuck with me. I can’t find it verbatim (if you search his name and ‘quote’, you mostly get results from the GQ hit piece written up on him. Don’t think it’s a hit piece? Did you read it? I digress.), but it was something to the extent of: women leave their families, change their name to yours, have your children, raise your children, keep your house […] go easy on them.
If I had heard that five years ago, I would have wondered if women had any say in their marriages at all.
Now? I get it.
I love my husband. I love my precious, sometimes wild, son. I love the little nugget growing inside my body, despite how crappy I feel. while growing him. I love that my husband’s career affords us the luxury for me to stay home to raise our boys.
Of course there’s a ‘but’. I miss having financial independence. I miss silence. I miss the distinct satisfaction of having an entirely spotless home. I miss feeling like I had some contributing value to society, whether it be through my efforts in my career, volunteer work, or just having something thoughtful to say in an adult conversation.
I miss adult conversation. I miss being heard. A two year old boy and the three dogs that usually surround him do not hear me, let alone listen to me. I miss having something clever to say that wasn’t about someone eating crayons or ingesting Vick’s vapor rub or how many surfaces can be covered in poop in less than thirty seconds. I miss my husband hearing me as an intelligent resource for witty repartee or insightful wisdom and not just a source for where more wipes are located. I miss being heard.
When I was studying in college, I thought I would have my master’s in Library Science by now. I thought I’d be flourishing in my specialty of children’s literature. I thought I’d be certified to be an American Sign Language interpreter and working with deaf children. I thought I’d be pursuing my passions and utilizing my set of talents. I thought I’d see the faces of children that were learning and my thanks for my work would be on those little cheeks.
Marriage was hardly on the radar, children weren’t even on the screen.
Although I understood the existential insignificance of my life (what I do or want to do won’t ever impact the way the world turns or thinks), I never thought I’d live day to day with it blaring in my face.
I cook and I clean and I sweep and I mop and I do dishes and I clean crap off the soles of shoes and I cut hair and I feed dogs and I pick up endless toys while my body aches and I’m so tired and no one says “thank you”.
No one ever tells you what a hard job motherhood truly is. Society tells us over and over again that women who stay home to raise children are lazy or stupid and selfish for not contributing to the financial gain of the house. But they’re so, so wrong. It’s not bio-engineering, but my job is hard. And there aren’t seasonal reviews or cost of living raises at the end of each year. And there aren’t “thank yous”.
I love my family. But I would also love to be thanked once in a while.
To those outside these four walls, and even to those inside them, what I do looks like nothing important. If the laundry isn’t done, America doesn’t go to war. But I’ve put aside my old hopes and dreams to pursue the career of taking care of a family. My family.
And I wonder how that stacks up against those great, influential men and women who gave up everything to pursue their dreams.
Is theirs a bigger sacrifice? I suppose it’s all relative.