Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband. But I also love my wife. No, I don’t literally have a wife. I have an amazing husband, but he doesn’t care about the minutiae I manage as a wife and a mother. And I don’t blame him. If I could outsource scheduling doctor’s appointments, meal preparation and making sure my toddler has tights for the school play, I would do it in a New York minute.
But, alas, I can’t. And, alas, with all these tiny tasks comes heaps of frustration. So who do I turn to? The answer is simple. I turn to my wife, AKA a dear friend, who is in the same boat. Rachel has two kids of similar ages and therefore similar complaints about all the details that need attention. She works full time and I freelance so we sometimes have trouble connecting. But we do it any way we can: text, email, voicemail, greeting card. Name the medium; we use it.
Husbands often want to solve your problem, but sometimes don’t take the time to hear you out. And in the end, that may be all you need. Rachel is a great listener and knows exactly what to say to calm me down.
Sometimes she is a sounding board or just a sensitive ear. How many doctors’ appointments does a one-year old need in a year? Weren’t we just there? Is it kosher to postpone a dentist appointment for my toddler so I can squeeze in a yoga class? I mean, come on, she doesn’t even have her real teeth yet. Having a crappy morning, baby was up all night with the croup. How can such a small child sound like a Great Dane? I have to go to a meeting today and none of my suits fit. I’m heading to Starbucks for a double skim latte. P.s. Don’t forget, Bloomingdales friends & family starts Tuesday.
And believe me, even though your husband doesn’t want to hear about this stuff, he wants it done. You can try to vent your frustration to him, but I guarantee, neither of you will get what you need out of the discussion. Perhaps you’re lucky enough that he handles some of these mundane tasks, but studies show the brunt of family administration is borne by the moms.
When the first of our circle of friends had a child, I went to visit her. I was single and childless. I had no idea what to say or do. I told her to find some “mom friends.” That’s exactly what she did. And it’s what everyone should do.
Here are some guidelines:
One of the best things about your wife is that she understands what you’re going through. It’s better if at least one of your kids is a similar age. If your friend is thinking about where to send her kid to middle school while you are searching for a baby nurse, it’s hard to help each other out.
While it’s ideal if you live close to each other (although it does help to vent in person over a martini from time to time), it’s not required. As long as you are dealing with similar situations – i.e. both live in suburbia and have car issues – you’re in good company.
Be honest about your problems or concerns. And be truthful with your friend as well when offering feedback. This friendship is about trust and real advice.
A sense of humor is a huge plus in a wife. (Remember when you were searching for a husband and “funny” was one of the traits you required?). Life gets pretty hectic from drop-off to lunch boxes to finding a post-baby outfit in your closet for a black-tie event. Laughter is the best remedy.
Note that this person will be a little different than your other friends. Many of your friends lack the time or inclination to speak about the headache of your dishwasher delivery or interviewing babysitters. Your wife must be someone who likes to commiserate on the details. She likes to talk on the phone and values frequent discussions just as much as you do.
When entering unchartered territory, it is always better to have someone with you. And it is vital that this person is in the same boat. She feels your frustration that every task takes three phone calls; she shares your joy when you get all the children out the door fed, clothed and on time.
New mothers, hear me loud and clear: get yourself a wife. She will help your marriage and make you so much happier. And you know what they say…happy wife, happy life!