Dear husbands of stay-at-home moms:
Listen very carefully, okay? I know you’re busy and there’s a lot on your plate. And you think you’ve already done your Christmas shopping and you’re really proud of yourself for getting it done early. And you think your wife is going to love the necklace from Tiffany’s you picked out and you can’t wait to see it on her. But I want you to read this. Or skim it. Or whatever. Just, listen.
Your wife will love the necklace from Tiffany’s (or whatever it was that you got her). She’ll smile and tell you that you shouldn’t have spent so much money even though she’s really touched that you did. And she’ll love all the other things you got her too. She really will. But there’s something she wants for Christmas this year that she didn’t ask for. And that’s what I want to tell you about.
She wants time. Time to herself. No, no wait, not a date night. I mean, she’d probably love that too. She loves spending time with you and that would be a really great gift. But I’m sure you thought of that already. No. Time to herself. Without you. Without the kids. Without her friends. Alone.
She didn’t ask you for this because it’s something that’s really hard to ask for. It means admitting that, sometimes, she doesn’t want to be around her kids. And she loves her kids. She’d die for her kids. How is it possible she wants time away from them? But she does. She’s human and she does.
And it means admitting that, sometimes, she doesn’t want to be around you. Which is really hard to admit because you guys don’t see each other much as it is. And she loves you so very much. And she wishes you had more time together. But she also wants time to herself.
She wants time in which no one is touching her. Time in which no one is talking to her. Time in which she isn’t planning four steps ahead or reorganizing the day because something crazy happened. Time to wear the outfit she picked out that morning without worrying someone will spill something on it, or sneeze on it, or draw on it.
Time to turn on her favorite TV show and know, for certain, she’ll be able to watch all the way to the end. Time to pick up the book she’s reading and be absolutely positive she’ll be able to read more than a sentence. Time to read the news, take a nap, eat an entire sandwich. Time.
And she needs a lot of it, if you really want this gift to be special. Not an hour, or even two hours. She needs enough time to realize that she is actually a human being and not just a mom. Enough time to remember that she has interests other than whether or not she can squeeze one more diaper into the diaper pail without breaking it. Things she used to love to do – painting, writing, roller blading, whatever.
An hour or two is enough time for her to sit on the couch with a book and a cup of tea. And if that’s all you can give her, then do it. She’ll love that. Really, she will. But, if it’s possible, (listen carefully now) give her a whole day. People get days off from their jobs usually. I’m sure you do. But she doesn’t. And she won’t ask.
Take the kids out in the morning and let her relax at home. Then send her off to do something she loves in the afternoon while you hang out at home with the kids. Or send her out in the morning. Whatever. You get the idea. A whole day.
Get a little note card and write “Mom’s Day Off” or something like that on it. Be as straightforward or as cute as you want. Put the card in an envelope, wrap the envelope, stick one of those little bows on it and throw it under the Christmas tree. Then put a reminder in your phone to sit down together and get this day on your calendar. Because she probably won’t remind you to do it.
And look, you may have already thought of this gift. Or you may be married to the kind of woman who feels fine asking for it. In which case, you’re way ahead on your Christmas shopping. Hooray! But, if you hadn’t thought of it, and she didn’t ask, do it. It’s what she really wants this year. Trust me.
A friendly Christmas elf