Earlier this week, my husband left a schedule for me on our fridge. On the schedule, he’d listed all the days and times he would be gone this week. There was no discussion with me, no inquiring as to what I might have had going on, no phone calls or texts to ensure that those dates would work for me. Just a simple piece of notebook paper clipped to our fridge, as if it would be no problem for me that he would be gone for four nights this week.
It was in that moment, looking at that piece of ripped paper, when I realized how very wrong a marriage can go.
I realized that the small piece of paper up on our fridge represented a lot about my position in our family’s life. Like a lot of moms, I’m an afterthought, a constant, a given, with everyone else’s activities and needs a bigger priority.
And it was in that moment that I wondered if I should have done things a little differently in our marriage. If I’d have set a precedent in our earlier years, could it have prevented me from becoming the wife starting at her husband’s calendar on a fridge, wondering where things had gone so terribly wrong?
And it was in that moment that I realized it all boiled down to one simple thing: I never should have let my husband off the hook.
From the beginning of our time together, even as a dating couple, I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to make my husband’s life easier. I’ve had dinner planned and prepped, our children arranged for, school paperwork done, the house picked up when he comes home. And always, always, I’ve fit my schedule around his. When we were still in college, I took over our cell phone plan. I paid the bills, I handled paperwork and phone calls and took care of all of the logistics of our life.
I’m not saying that any of that was bad, of course, but from the vantage point I have now, I am starting to wonder if I did more harm than good. Because really, why on earth haven’t I started out leaving my own list on the fridge, letting him figure it all out? Why have I created a life that places the rest of my family as the sun in the center around which I revolve?
I probably did those all things because it felt easier, in some ways, to be the steady one, to be the constant in a life that was a little chaotic. I probably did it because for a long time, even leaving my house felt like an impossible task, between being pregnant or nursing or corralling four little kids. I probably did it because somewhere along the way, I lost sight of who I was in the process of giving life to others.
Someway, somehow, I got myself into this mess. And now that I am here, I can see that something has to change.
I shouldn’t be an afterthought simply because I am a mother, the female half of our partnership. I don’t have to let my husband “off the hook” when it comes to managing life and the kids’ schedules and the dentist appointments and every other piece of the emotional labor that women are involved in.
I can start by remembering that I matter too.
And maybe—just maybe—leaving my own list on the fridge someday too.
“Going to Target” is a totally appropriate way to spend an evening, right?