Feb. 17th, 2010

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I had my Mothers of Preschoolers meeting today, which is always a really nice, really fun time. There's child care, and then 64 women, all (duh) mothers of preschoolers, get together and have a really nice breakfast, listen to a speaker, do crafts, have discussions, whatever. It's a lovely organization. It's also a Christian one. And it focuses very strongly on supporting mothers and women in general, and I've never felt that this chapter is at all judgmental about things like divorce or single motherhood or anything like that. (I don't think we HAVE any single mothers, but I think that's because the meetings are at 9:00 on a Wednesday morning. We also just don't have many mothers that work full time (or at least conventional hours) because of when it's held. And most single moms are working moms, too.)

Anyway. One of the things that happens every meeting is that the group that makes breakfast gets up and each member introduces themselves and answers a light-hearted question. It changes from month to month. My group had to answer "Something I want to do for ME this year is _____ ". Cool, right? Today's group had to answer "I'm a good wife because..."

Wow. Was the reaction to that question depressing.

It wasn't just the women answering it. It was every one of us looking at each other and saying "wow. I don't know how to answer that!"

Now, I'm sure that in a group of 64 women, there are women struggling very hard with their marriages right now. For some, it might just be a stupid fight they had with their husbands this morning and they'll kiss and make up tonight, but others may be teetering on divorce. There's probably at least one woman in that room who has had or will have an affair. But I know I was in that room, and I know my marriage, and I felt hard-pressed to answer that question. And it's not because I'm a bad wife. I love my husband dearly, I feel like we have a great marriage, and while there are things we could stand to work on (who doesn't have that?), I'm very confident and comfortable that our marriage will last until death do us part. I should be able to answer that question no problem.

And yet, all I could think was "thank God I don't have to do it this month!" But if you asked me "what do you need to work on as a wife?" I could reel off a list in a heartbeat.

And it hit me. It's not the "good wife" part. It's the getting up in front of everyone and saying "you know what? This is what I'm awesome at." We just aren't trained to do that. And a quick survey of the women at my table resulted in wide eyes and "YES! That's my thing, too!" Even when we don't mean to, we associate being wives with sacrifice and martyrdom, and we don't stand up and take the credit that is rightfully ours.

In some ways, I suppose that's good. I'm a big fan of 1 Corinthians 13, and Paul's right when he says "Love is never boastful." Because seriously? Keeping score is a bad thing to do in marriage- even if you're keeping score of the positive, because then you start resenting your partner for what they might not be doing. And getting complacent, only focusing on what you do right, is a bad thing. You need to see what you're doing wrong, too. A balance is necessary.

But a balance is necessary. We should be able to say, "hell yeah, I AM good at this! I don't get jealous and worry unnecessarily when my husband travels! I buy him his favorite soup and listen to him when he needs to talk and I support him in what he needs." Why are we so hesitant to say that? Why do those things not jump to our brain quicker, and even if they do, why is it so hard to get them our of our mouths?

I don't know if men would have a problem with this, too. Part of that is because I can't see a group of men gathering and having this sort of discussion in this large of numbers and taking it seriously. At least, not the men I know. (I'm pretty sure at least one guy cite how awesome he is in bed. Maybe he'd mean it, maybe he'd be going for the joke answer because he doesn't want to put his emotions out there, but I'm positive this would be said.) But I wonder if that "I shouldn't say it or even think I'm good at it" thing kicks in.

Anyway, yeah, that realization was sort of a downer. And it's funny, because I've been thinking a lot about feminism and women's issues these days. Partly because of a discussion that came off the is-slash-misogynistic discussions, partly because I just read "A Thousand Splendid Suns", and try NOT to think about these issues after reading that, and partly because I've been trying to pat out the ideas for an original novel, and I'm trying to be conscious of gender, race, and orientation, especially as this is an "aliens invaded Earth and enslaved the population" type of thing- we need more than white upper-class Americans in this. And I'm writing Cally!fic, which is really fun and ends up taking the gender!fail of 4.5 and showing them how it didn't have to suck so badly on that score if they'd just kept Cally alive. ::mutters::

Anyway, those are my deep and meaningful thoughts of the day. The rest of my brain was in use thinking about what amounts to space pirates.

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