Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wife, then Mother

I became a wife before I became a mother. I know that's not the way it always works out, but that's how I was raised. A unmarried friend of mine was teaching middle school several years ago when her students asked her if she was married. She told them no. "Well, do you have kids?" they asked. She explained that she just told them she wasn't married. "That's OK," they said. "You can have kids when you're not married." She simply explained to them that her mom said that was not OK!

Most people would agree that it is best to get married before you have kids. So why do we act like motherhood comes first? If not in chronological order, then certainly in importance? What I mean is, after we become mothers, that takes precedence over any need our husbands may have. We nearly cease to be "Mrs. So and So" and become "Whats-Her-Names's Mommy." Well, at first it makes sense because the newborn cannot do anything for themselves. They absolutely do need us. Our husbands, on the other hand, are surely capable of making themselves a sandwich for supper while we tend to the baby, right?

See, the Bible tells us that Eve was created for a very specific reason. Do you know it? That's right, to be Adam's helper. A suitable helper. A help meet for him, if you prefer King James. I am my husband's helper. I became that on the day we were married. Six years later when we became parents, did I cease to be his helper? No. Eve did not cease to be Adam's helper when Cain and Abel were born! Raising the children was part of what she did to help him. Hmmm.

What does this look like in daily life? It means that my husband comes first. WHAT?? SURELY I HAVE LOST MY MIND? Aren't children supposed to come first? When our larger family gets together to eat, we always serve the children's plates first. Then, all the grown ups go through the kitchen serving their plate. My uncle always mentions how when he was little, the adults got their plates first and the chilren waited. Because they were children. It's almost unthinkable. He says he understands why we serve them first (they are hungry, get them out of the way so we can enjoy the meal, etc.) but it still is very different from when he was a boy. I'll say. Our society has all but put children on a throne. I've heard elementary aged kids threaten their parents, "I'll call CPS on you!" Somehow our little darlings have gotten in their heads that they are in charge. And guess what, they are pretty perceptive.

So I want to send the clear message to my daughters that daddy comes first (after God). Because he is daddy. They come next. Don't worry, they are still going to know they are loved, but there is a chain of command even in the family (sorry, my husband's an ex-Navy man, these words are in my vocabulary) and they will know where they fall in that chain. Now my husband often says, "Go take care of them, I'll talk to you later." He knows they need mom sometimes and that what he needs can wait. But I still should put him first in what I do. I wash and iron his clothes first. I fix his plate first (if he's home). I teach them to help daddy as well so one day they will know how to be helpers for their husbands. I'm not saying I do this well all the time. I'm just thinking this is how it should be.

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I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)