Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Maybe he meant a hero sandwich.

If you think Dr. Phil is a self-absorbed blowhard, read no further. Because I like him. Maybe because he was on Sesame Street, and appearances on Sesame Street have the power to transform my thinking (for some reason I didn't used to like Julianne Moore, but now she's one of my favorites because of the "Far from Seven" skit). I also think Dr. Phil tells it like it is and calls people out when they should be called out. And because he's not like Maury or Jerry or Sally Jesse. The people on his show have real, life-affecting issues and they really need the therapy he gives.

So, with all that said, MFA Mama made a reference to a Dr. Phil idiom the other day and I'm a little stuck on it. Apparently every relationship needs a hero. Is this true? My marriage has very strong roots, leaves something to be desired in a couple minor categories, but in the end is so worth the work and investment. But I'm no hero, aside from pushing a couple bowling balls out my cooter, and I'll be damned if Jim's my hero. So what gives. Does anyone know what the good doctor means? If by hero, he means the person that initiates all of the important talks, then he shouldn't call it a hero, because it sounds more like enabler, which I hate! I admit, I am the one who forces us to talk about why he or I am mad or sad, but I hate the idea that trying to maintain a healthy relationship by bringing up issues we need to discuss makes me a hero.

I think Dr.P has this one wrong. Even if his exact word wasn't "hero", the implication is that the partnership isn't equal, which just ain't right. In fact, that's the single thing that really bothers me about quitting my job and staying home with children. It's the idea that on some level Jim is doing more than I am. Which logically is the opposite of true (I mean really! Troubleshooting the workings of a bed company vs. feeding, clothing, nursing, teaching, guiding, nurturing two kids. Hmmph!). But still, because I was the one with the paycheck for so many years, I got a taste of the stress of financially supporting a family. Because that stress is gone, I now feel like I'm not giving my fair share. I know that's ridiculous. But still.

So back to the hero thing... I don't want my husband to be the hero, because I'm not that kind of girl, and the only time I want to feel like a hero is if I give someone life-saving CPR or warn Jim not to wear his grey slacks with brown shoes. Oh-ho-ho! I get it! I AM the hero! Dr. Phil, you're wicked smaht.


Blogger Tink said...

Hubby may be the walls, but you're the damn foundation. Without Momma, shit crumbles. Don't ever forget that. :)

1/17/2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Hero does make it sound too much like someone has to be saved from something. And as you pointed out, beyond the obvious fashion faux pas, maybe the better word would be champion.
I think that in some areas of our marriage, I am more the champion and J is in others.

1/17/2006 8:52 AM  
Blogger DoctorMama said...

I've never actually seen Dr. Phil, so I have no opinion on him, but this actually resonated a bit for me. However, I don't think every marriage needs the SAME person to be the hero all the time -- I think you can trade off. That said, I realize that I have big-ass pride and always insisted I didn't need ANYBODY, and then it turns out that my husband is heroic much more often than I am, and boy do I need it. Not that he DOES more than I do, but that he can be counted on to be a sane and good person when I'm crazy. I definitely do the same for him, but I need it more often.

Wicked smaht? When did you live in Boston?

1/17/2006 8:53 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

I think doctormama is right. Different people get to be the hero at different times. This goes for friendships, too. First one of you is the shoulder to lean on, then the other. You start to run into problems when the "strong" one has to be strong for too long.

I don't really care for the term "hero", though, either. It makes me think of that TV show, I think it was called "America's Greatest Hero" or something like that, with the guy who got the superman suit but wasn't really cut out for it, so he was always flying into the sides of buildings? That would be me.

1/17/2006 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I agree with the commenters above -- seems like in a real partnership, both spouses would take turns being the "hero." For example, if one spouse is ill, the other takes care of the kids and the house and such things.

But I agree, I don't like the word "hero" in this context. It was overused after 9/11, but that at least seems like a more appropriate context. The word should be something to imply more of the balance of marriage, that it's a give and take and sometimes you give more and other times you take more. Maybe we need to invent a word?

1/17/2006 12:42 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Pushing people out of your cooter definitely qualifies you for hero status, in my book.

1/17/2006 1:07 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Also, in my opinion, every really strong marriage is a genuine partnership.

1/17/2006 1:08 PM  
Blogger Orange said...

I don't know anything 'bout this hero business, but I like Dr. Phil all right. His standard "How's that working out for you?" is such a useful question.

1/17/2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I agree...I don't think that every relationship needs a "hero", and that people can take turns being the "hero" of the relationship. You know, stepping up to the plate and staying punched in.

But yes. We've birthed babies. We're heroes.

1/17/2006 4:21 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I am all about being a hero and consider myself one. Who just took care of an 8 year old with 103 degree fever WHILE giving a baby shower for 21 people (serving dinner no less!)??? That's a hero, people! Yes, hubs makes the money and he is a hero in his own way too but I prefer to think that I am the life or death type of hero.

1/17/2006 6:12 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I hate the word "hero". It's used so much that it has lost it's meaning. To me, a marriage had better be a partnership of two equals...or it isn't marriage...it's indentured servitude.

Sure, it's hard work being on the outside and making the money. But, Hell's Bells, the person making the money after getting married and having kids is STILL doing what he'd be doing if he had not gotten married or had kids.

It's the person at home...almost always the females...who has to do the 180. In days past you had to change your name, quit your job and "do what the man said". These days, it might be less severe(except in fundamentlist circles among folks who still drink the "Man is Boss" Kool-Aid), but it's still a total and surprising loss of identity to have a degree in computer software and find yourself wiping yogurt off of the walls and talking about poop all day. Your brain dies.

But it's not heroic...it's just DAMNED HARD WORK. If they passed a law that required us to call it heroic, maybe more men would stay home and do it.

Hey...that almost makes sense.

1/17/2006 6:53 PM  
Anonymous LetterB said...

I prefer "heroine" (with the "e" -although some days "heroin" sounds pretty good too). I have to say i don't like dr. phil because his tactics seem like watered-down EST bullshit and he always seems to make women cry to boost his ratings. Like jerry springer and his naff fisticuffs. Buuuut, I still agree with the general consensus here about how f-ing "challenging" mothering is. I though I knew what hard work was and then i went into labor...

1/17/2006 8:16 PM  
Anonymous 1 of 2 Dads in Dresden said...

Drat, I AM wearing brown shoes with grey slacks.

So... we're two guys, but we seem to take turns initiating important discussions. Maybe it just depends on the people involved?

I do take issue with the "at work" spouse "doing what he would have been doing anyway" without marriage + kids. (Perhaps because I'm the "at work" spouse in the house.)

I have restructured my work considerably trying desperately to spend as much time with our daughter as possible every day. On days that I get home late and only have about a half-hour with her before bedtime I feel terrible. On top of the stress of work is now the stress of struggling to manage time so as to maximize my family time in the mornings and evenings.

I had to drop out of some German language evening courses at work, because I hated leaving for work before she was awake and coming home after she was asleep two days every week.

Things are tough all over - just in different ways.

1/18/2006 11:07 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Yes, you are clearly an exception, Mark. However, I bet many dads that do the same sort of prioritizing would probably be trying to cut work short and making time for [insert guy hobby here] if they weren't married with kids.

I really feel for you on the home+work stress issue. You know that more than anyone, right? How many times did I complain to you about my crap job and how crappy it was that I was missing time with my not-crappy daughter because of it?

1/19/2006 1:19 PM  

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