When ‘Different’ doesn’t mean ‘Less’

I remember the first time I made the mistake of mentioning to a particular friend that I prepped my husband’s work lunches.  The comment just slipped out of my mouth and would have gone unnoticed if her eyes hadn’t instantly widened dramatically.

“Wait,” she said, holding up her hand for silence.  “You make your husband’s work lunches?”

“Hmmm, yeah,” I replied cautiously.

She laughed.  “I would never do that.  Oh my gosh.  Do you wear your apron like a good little wife too?”

To be completely honest, I had never imagined that someone might find this odd and even belittling for a wife to do.  My mom had always made my dad’s lunches.  I made my husband’s lunches.  And like my mom, I didn’t perform this ‘chore’ out of a sense of duty, requirement, or subservience.

Nate’s lunches were put together with care because I love him.  Because a man cannot live on deli sandwiches alone.  And because I knew that the carefully prepared meal I packed would be heartier, tastier, and healthier than anything my husband would grab in the spur of a moment.

(I can still see my husband grabbing a bag of microwave popcorn, pudding snacks, and a cheese stick for lunch one particular Saturday I decided to sleep in and let him fend for himself). 

I’m just good at meal planning.  I enjoy it.  And I enjoy taking care of him.

The same comes true with the chores my husband handles around the house.  I’m perfectly capable of bringing my car for an oil change, changing light-bulbs, painting decks, and mowing lawns.  But handy-man chores just come naturally to my husband.  And they’re his way of saying, “I love you and want you to be cared for.”

That’s not to say that we reverse the typical roles from time to time.  Nate goes grocery shopping for me on a regular basis, and — I kid you not — I have not washed the kitchen floor once since we got married.  (I don’t even know where our mop-bucket is).  I, on the other hand, take out the trash every Monday, occasionally mow the lawn, and keep up with the shingles that stubbornly keep blowing off our roof.  (By calling the roofer, not by climbing up on the roof.  Just thought I should clarify that.  Ha!)

It’s not about roles that are specific to a specific gender.

But at the same time, why shouldn’t I embrace roles that are considered womanly… if I love doing them as a woman?

Nate wasn’t home until late tonight, and I found myself actually enjoying the house-cleaning.  I whisked away the dust, tidied magazines and remote controls, lit candles, turned on some dim lighting, and then sat down on the couch with a warm cup of tea to wait for my husband’s arrival.  I was the epitome of a dutiful housewife.

And I actually found it soothing.  I was eager for my husband to come home and find a cozy, clean home that smelled of cinnamon and nutmeg waiting for him.

I’m a woman.  I’m proud of that.  And I don’t feel that I should be more like a man in order to find my value.  I’ve heard girls say silly things like, “Oh, I don’t wear pink.  It’s too girly.”  And that kind of confuses me, because I can’t help but want to say, “But you ARE a girl.  Since when is that a label of shame?”

Women are strong.  There are many woman who are doing jobs that most men would refuse to do, because of the exhaustion and the danger.  But even when we’re cleaning our homes for our husbands, baking dinner for our families, stepping into the work-force for extra money, or even just being the tender hug at the end of a long day, we’re strong.  We don’t have to be like men to prove just how tough, confident, and powerful we are.

And just because God may have created us different than men…. it doesn’t mean we have to become more like men in order to prove our worth.

So excuse me…

The hubby just came home, and I have some stuffed green peppers that need to come out of the oven for dinner.  🙂

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15 thoughts on “When ‘Different’ doesn’t mean ‘Less’”

  1. Awesome post… We don’t do the typical chores out of obligation, we do them as a sign of our affection. I may not like doing the dishes, but I know that I mind it less then my (future) wife. There are plenty of things she is more then willing to do, that she knows I would rather not do. I like how it didn’t even occur to you that preparing Nate’s lunches might “belittle” you as a woman. In fact it is exactly the opposite, it shows how much you love your husband and consider yourselves equal. Each one’s strengths complementing the other’s weaknesses.

  2. Awesome post, Nicole!! I used to be a major tomboy and thought it was too “girly” to wear pink, do my nails or do my makeup. WHAT? I had an epiphany sometime between my teen years and early college years that I actually kind of liked those girly things and that I didn’t need to prove my worth, my value, my strength to anyone but myself. You’re right. We’re GIRLS. It’s okay to celebrate that with doing the things that we love and wearing what we love to wear. If girls don’t LIKE wearing pink or makeup or glittery nail polish or cooking on a nightly basis, that’s more than fine. We don’t need that to prove that we’re feminine or girly. But it should never be because we’re trying to prove a point. Let’s just be ourselves. 😀

  3. I absolutely love this post!! I love that you embrace “womanly” chores but can still do “many” chores. I truly enjoy girly type things like meal planning, cleaning, etc. And I’m okay with that 🙂

    I hope those stuffed peppers were delish!

  4. I think part of the issue is a matter of perspective. If you felt that packing your husband’s lunch was an obligation tied to your worth as a wife, or if you had to stop what you were doing just to make sure your husband’s lunch was packed then yeah, I’d agree with your friend. Women shouldn’t be forced into traditional gender roles, and maybe that’s what your friend is used to seeing (I’ll admit that I’ve seen this behaviour in women I know).

    But clearly you’re doing it because you like to, not because you have to and I think that’s the big difference.

  5. I don’t find that odd at all. My husband would love for me to prepare lunch for him but it’s just that he wants to go out of the office, walk to the canteen and just get out of the four corners of the office..

    My husband does the mopping and I do most of the other things which he would gladly do if I don’t feel like it. Haha.. =p

  6. Awww, this is such a sweet post and I don’t think it is odd at all for you to cook him lunch or dinner, I actually think that is really great of you. I am getting into cooking for my husband and find it quite rewarding and he definitely appreciates it.

  7. Mike would love me to make his lunch but I make mine the night before and he hates sandwiches that have been made the night before! We do chores according to the time we get home from work. Sometimes that’s me, sometimes that’s Mike. I do refuse to wear pink though 😉

  8. I almost felt like I was YOU for a moment when I read about that persons response to you packing your husbands lunch because I pack my husbands lunch too! I also enjoy washing dishes and mowing the lawn and do it not because my husband is lazy or incapable.. i just like doing it!

  9. I make my man’s lunches for the reason you mentioned: he’ll either put together something unhealthy, skip lunch, or buy something that’s unhealthy AND costs money! Unfortunately neither of us like doing dishes. Clearly we give our dishwasher lots of love 🙂

  10. I can totally relate! Because I work from home, I am typically more responsible for household duties and the cooking. I know my husband’s job is stressful at times, so coming home to a clean house can really help that. It’s all about supporting each other! I think sometimes the thinking has gone just too far to the other extreme…

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