My husband Rick went away for 28 hours this weekend, leaving me on my own with our two daughters. The girls and I managed just fine. That is if you don’t count the moment when my 3-year-old heckled the people at the table next to us at a restaurant on Saturday night for their entrée selection or when she decided to decorate the living room with glue Sunday morning while I was in the shower. If there was an upside to the glue situation, it was that our throw pillows probably needed a little incentive to stop slumping down on the sofa.
Thankfully, it’s not as if my husband left me alone for the weekend with 19 kids. I’ve never actually watched TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” but as a keen student of pop culture, I’m well aware that there is a real, live couple with 19 kids that seems to keep wanting even more kids. If I had known my older daughter ever would have thought, for instance, that it was a fine idea to empty the contents of her humidifier on the carpet, there’s a strong chance I would have stopped at one kid. But 19 of them? I mean, how do you survive one 3-year-old and then decide to do it again 18 more times, exactly?
I fully recognize that, despite the restaurant, glue and humidifier antics — and my preschooler forcing me back to her room at 9 o’clock on Saturday night with the sing-song threat of a loaded pull-up diaper — it really could have been worse while my husband was away. Like if the man coming home to me after 28 hours away had not been named Rick but instead Jim Bob Duggar (or any man named Jim Bob, really), for instance.
The most baffling part about the Duggar family to me is not its 19 kids (although, believe me, that in and of itself is baffling). No, it’s the entire tenet on which the Duggar marriage is based that makes me wake up at night and feel the way I did in high school two days before the SATs when I realized that cramming likely wouldn’t help me earn a 1600 (or any four-digit score, for that matter): basically panic, nausea and despair.
The religion of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar seems to necessarily dictate that their marriage resembles a prison sentence for women (and not in a Hallmark anniversary, funny-ha-ha-card kind of way, either) rather than the loving union of two souls. At least that’s what I gathered from an article I read recently about what Michelle Duggar had to say to other women when she spoke at a conference about tips for a happy marriage.
To be fair, some of her remarks were on the benign side, such as when she said, “Hello,” and “Thank you.” Pretty much the rest of what I read she said had me exclaiming, “Oh, sweet Jesus,” although I’m guessing probably not in the same way that Michelle Duggar would ever say it.
She talked about how women need to accept their husbands as their leaders, and that wives must receive directions from their husbands, which is ironic, or something, given that my husband’s literal sense of direction rivals Mr. Magoo’s in terms of accuracy. If I had followed his lead, we’d no doubt still be lost eight years later driving around the outskirts of New Orleans looking for the nonexistent Tabert Street. (At least that’s what I could have sworn he had written down on the directions, when, in fact, he had scribbled, “Take right.” But still.)
In her talk, Michelle Duggar also advised that a man needs a wife who will develop “inward and outward beauty” in order to become “more of the wife of (her) husband’s dreams” and “conform to (her) husband’s real wishes.”
I’m not sure that looking like Scarlett Johansson will ever be in my future no matter how hard I try (sorry, Rick), but for what it’s worth, I give him plenty of opportunity to dream about her walking through our front door nonetheless. Particularly whenever I’m wearing my house-frau uniform of a ripped, paint-splattered, stained sweatshirt with non-matching, loose-fitting yoga pants. Scarlett would never wear that, but unfortunately for Rick, she hasn’t been returning his calls lately.
Michelle Duggar also advised women to separate their “rights” from their “responsibilities” — and to ask their husbands to define those responsibilities. Furthermore, she recommended that wives request that their husbands alert them when they have a “resistant spirit.” For that, I have no retort other than to say one thing, which is: Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. OK, that was six things. But the extra five Has were well worth the emphasis.
On no planet and in no lifetime could I envision being in a marriage like the Duggars’ — with two kids, 19 kids or no kids, although I’m guessing if I were married to a Jim Bob Duggar kind of guy I wouldn’t be trusted on my own with the kids for the weekend and therefore left alone to answer the incessant cry of a she-devil needing a Dora Band-Aid three separate times in 20 minutes just as I’m finally sitting down to my first glass of wine for the evening.
So in that case, I say bring on my master. Me, my low IQ and my bottle of cabernet will be happily waiting downstairs — alone — in the meantime.
More at www.meredithcarroll.com.