I’ve just had one of those days. You know — when you drop your kids off at camp (or school or whatever) and suddenly, it’s 3:00, and you haven’t had lunch, and you never made it to the market, and you didn’t deal with your serious dark root s situation AGAIN – but it’s already time to pick up the kids? One of those days.
It made me think about a book I’m been reading: “What Happened to the Girl I Married” by Michael Miller. Which is good, because I’m reading it as part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group book club. (I write for NYC Moms blog, which is part of the SV Group. Confused yet?)
Anyway, the book is about a guy (Miller) who spends a year “in his wife’s shoes at home.” (wonder if she wears Blahniks!), as a way to discover what happened to the girl…well, you get the drift.
I know what happened to her. She lost herself on the way to the dry cleaners and the pediatricians, and the exterminator, and the optometrist, and and and and and.
How does that happen? How does the day get away from you so fast? Miller thought his wife was just inefficient. Ha! He learned the hard way what a hard way of living being a full time stay at home Mom can be.
Miller really does give it his all — He tackles the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning. But for all of his realizations — some of which, I admit, are validating and worthwhile to read (I especially liked his idea of SAHMs living life in fragments)– the book is really about him. His journey. His conquering it all. His realization and transformation from corporate egomaniac or domesticated, sympathetic uber-husband and father.
All I could think of while I was reading it was — where is the girl he marred in all of this? What was she doing while he took over her life to learn how to respect what she does? Why don’t we hear from her?
I know why. It’s a man’s world. Even in a book written to help men understand what their wives go through each day.Even in a book that advises men to acknowledge and praise their wives.(And Michael, I do acknowledge and praise you for doing this.) Because, what he doesn’t say is: encourage your wife to be herself. Encourage your wife to follow her own dreams while you hold down the fort.
In the end – he’s just making life more palatable for women (not to mention himself — there’s a lot about getting enough sex)…as long as they’re still at home waiting for him when he gets back from wherever he’s been all day. I don’t mean to say that he hasn’t genuinely changed the way he perceives, appreciates, and communicates with his wife. He has. But it’s still a book about men. About husbands appeasing wives, understanding wives — as if “wife” were some state of being universal to women.
On days like today, I’d love for my husband to read this book – lacking though I found it. Because at least this guy made the attempt. I’d rather he universalized, instead of personalized the whole thing. I wish he didn’t repeat himself quite so much. (yes, I know. Your father was a produce man) but still — he tried. Which is more than I can say for a lot of husbands I know. (not mine. of course. never mine.)
But honsetly, what I really need is a book about how to clean the house, make the beds, do the shopping, wipe the tears, arrange the flowers, prepare the meal, do the dishes, fold the laundry, “do” the husband, and still have time to hang out and be myself. That book, I’d love. I But until it comes out, I’ll still be searching.