I think I would make a pretty good wife to (one of) a lot of guys. I’m a cheap date, partially because having anyone’s money spent on me makes me feel really anxious and guilty and partially because I really, really love pizza. I enjoy football enough to get up at 3am to watch a game if that’s when it’s on (because you live on the other side of the world). I genuinely enjoy being left alone. I hate talking about feelings. I’m pretty low maintenance, both in the “I hate talking about feelings” kind of way and also the “I’m almost 30 and finally just bought a hair dryer…which I use but rarely” kind of way. I think shopping is one of the most horrible, torturous ways to spend one’s time and cannot fathom why some people have made a hobby of it. The smell of sweat doesn’t bother me, as long as it’s relatively recent sweat and not the stale-sweat smell of a locker room. I have never asked anyone if I look fat because I know I’m not. I like driving with the windows down and couldn’t care less about the effects on my hair. I honestly don’t get how some people have a “thing” for shoes, and to be even more honest I’m not even sure what that means, except that everyone who says “I have a thing for shoes” has an awful lot of shoes.
And I like cooking from scratch. Not in a snobby way, like I think I can do better than Betty Crocker, but more because I think you should probably at least have a vague idea of what you are ingesting, at least most of the time. So, for example, if I decide we are going to have macaroni and cheese for dinner, I buy a few different kinds of cheeses – a really really sharp cheddar, maybe some Havarti, maybe some Jarlsberg, just whatever sounds like an interesting blend – and I make a sauce with them and whole milk and maybe a splash of cream, if I’m feeling luxurious. Sure, it takes longer than the stuff in a box but it tastes much better and I know what I’m feeding my family. I have no earthly idea what that orange powder is that comes in the blue-box mac and cheese. Anyway one day Jake pleaded with me to buy some blue box macaroni, “just for a special treat.” I stared at him, incredulous, before pointing out that MOST PEOPLE would consider the homemade variety a special treat. He scrunched up his face in disbelief and said, “Really?!” before deciding I was joking. When I assured him that this was not, in fact, part of my stand-up routine he declared all the lost souls who prefer macaroni in a sauce made of actual cheese to be “weird.”
See, I’m not married to most guys. I am married to one very specific man. The oft-repeated advice in marriage books may work for women married to 99% of men, but I often find it unhelpful because I am not married to 99% of men. Or rather, one of 99% of men. I am married to this one guy and I have to figure out how to be the wife that he needs. Sure, there is a lot of wisdom to be found in books written by “experts” but at the end of my life I will be the only person on earth capable of being an expert in being married to Jake. I have to write my own book here, make my own way. Apparently this includes occasionally serving flavorless noodles in an unidentified orange paste. I may think it’s pretty cool that I avoid talking about feelings but if that is something he is genuinely interested in doing I should probably learn to emote now and then. It is incumbent upon me to become the wife that he needs, not the wife that sounds awesome to me.
Same thing with my son. A degree in child development doesn’t make me an expert of any kind, let alone an expert in the development of Asher. It wouldn’t matter if I were Piaget Junior, or if T. Berry Brazelton came to me for advice, if I paid no attention to the one child I am raising. I owe it to my son to figure out how to raise him to be the man God created him to be. And that may mean that I read the widely varying views of all the development/parenting “experts” out there, and pore over the works of Michael Gurian and Leonard Sax to figure out how boys work…and maybe I find something useful, but maybe not. Maybe I still come up with nothing that is useful in raising my particular boy. And if that’s the case it is still my responsibility to work through how to best train my son as he grows up.
I am, barring some unforeseen tragedy, the only wife Jake will ever have. I am the only mother my son will have. Which means I am, to each of them, The One. I can just be the kind of wife I think I would want if I were a guy…or I can do the much harder work of becoming the wife my husband needs (and the wife I need to be). I can parent in a “this is the way it’s always been done” way, or an “I wish my parents had been like this” kind of way, but neither will be as beneficial to my child as painstakingly uncovering his needs and discovering what he responds to, what will capture his heart. These are daunting tasks – am I willing to be the one to each of my ones?