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I won't make my husband a sandwich? What a bitch. I thought this of myself recently as my daughters and I sat at our table (eating sandwiches that I made for us) and my husband walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge and looked for something to eat.
Should I stop eating, get up and make him a sandwich? No. My mom would've done it for my dad. My grandmas would've done it for my grandpas. Still no. He's a grown up. He's smart. All the ingredients are there in front of him. I'm thankful for the great dad he is and for the scary lessons he teaches our family. I love him deeply, but he can make his own sandwich.
Does he care? He says he doesn't. Would he like me to treat him like a king at all hours of the day? I'm sure he would (I'd like to be waited on hand and foot, too!) But, not making a sandwich for my man has nothing to do with the love, respect or gratitude I have for him. Rather, it has everything to do with something much bigger.
When I was a kid, my mom did everything. She worked full-time as a teacher (how any mother can have the tenacity to work a job that involves dealing with 25 children every day is beyond me and truly admirable), cooked dinner for us every night, drove us back and forth to dance classes and school activities, volunteered for school activities, handled all the regular household affairs (cleaning, laundry, maintenance), played organ at our church, volunteered for community events and packed my dad's lunches every day (along with packing my sister's and my lunch every day).
Making a sandwich for a grown man who is fully capable of doing it himself is a gateway to enabling an attitude of "Oh, she'll take care of that for me."
I didn't think twice about her ongoing lunch-making when I was a kid. Now, I think it was absolutely, positively absurd and not mentally healthy for anyone—no matter how much gusto and energy a woman might have for taking care of everyone. (Packing lunches for my dad soon became synonymous with packing his suitcases for trips, but that's another story.) But my mom did it, because that's what moms do. That's what all moms did.
When my husband and I were first married (before babies), I started packing his lunches for him too, as an ingrained gesture of being a loving wife. He never asked me to, I just did it. He had long days working at the hospital and I felt responsible for making sure he had something to eat during the day. I'd make sandwiches or box leftovers from our dinner the night before, and I was happy to do it for him. His colleagues would tell me how lucky he was to be so well taken care of, and I felt like a great wife.
Then we had kids and I dropped my lunch-making like a hot potato.
Things got busier. Things got exhausting. Things got loud, unpredictable and sometimes unruly. My girls were born exactly 16 months apart, so I was essentially taking care of two babies, working part-time (during baby nap time, I was developing my blog/brand, auditioning for television shows, writing for other websites and working freelance reporter jobs as they came) and didn't have regular hired help to fill in the blanks at home. Making a sack lunch for my husband became an extra "luxury" activity that I suddenly had no time for. I stocked the house with groceries, kept the kitchen tidy and made dinner most every night. But no lunches. Something's gotta give, and for me it was packed lunches. He never mentioned the change in lunch-making and didn't seem to mind (still doesn't) so I just kept keepin' on.
Now that my girls are 5 and 4, life is much more in control as they are pretty much self-sufficient (minus the ability to prepare their own meals). Technically, I could return to making my darling husband's lunch, but I won't. I won't strictly for the principal of it. Not making a sandwich has everything to do with keeping everyone's capabilities turned on and turned up. (Anyone watch "The Walking Dead"? It's like, once you feel safe at a place like Alexandria and stop venturing out into the wild, you lose your ability to survive. I don't want my husband to lose his ability to survive, you get me?)
The more I provide beyond what's truly needed and reasonable, the more I enable, the more I dig myself into a deeper hole.
Making a sandwich for a grown man who is fully capable of doing it himself is a gateway to enabling an attitude of "Oh, she'll take care of that for me." I don't have a second of time to squeeze out of anywhere to take care of one more thing for one more person. I've seen the 'Make Me A Sandwich' memes... who's responsible for starting these anyways? C'mon guys, let's get our heads straight here. We know you can do great things, and making a sandwich is one of them.
Working moms are not capable for doing every single thing for every single person at exactly the same time. That's not a statement to limit a woman's capabilities, that's a matter of math: There are 24 hours in a day. I provide breakfast, I pack lunches and snacks for kids who can't do it by themselves, I dress them, I take them to school, I work, I pick them up and take them to lessons, I cook dinner, I clean up the kitchen, I bathe the little ladies (Hubs helps with this frequently, so thank you Hubs), I read to them, I tuck them in, and then I march them back to their room and tuck them in again when they bust out saying they can't sleep. And then I come back to my computer and finish up blog posts like this. And I know you do it, too. Because we all do it—all the time. Screw sandwich making.
The more I provide beyond what's truly needed and reasonable, the more I enable, the more I dig myself into a deeper hole that I will inevitably try to dig myself out of as the years pass. You can't squeeze ketchup back into the bottle once you've squeezed it out. And then, before you know it, I'm packing his clothes in suitcases for his business trips. No thanks.
Nobody makes me a sandwich—and I still manage to eat lunch. (Love ya, babe.)