I'm a little jealous of Jill Duggar

This article, entitled "I'm a little jealous of Jill Duggar," comes from Nicole Knepper at Moms Who Drink and Swear.

Jill Duggar-Dillard is pregnant. Wow, that was rapid-fire baby making, even by Duggar standards.

I’m jealous. Not because she’s pregnant. Oh no. I’d rather spend ten years wiping drool off of Rush Limbaugh’s big, sloppy gob than to be pregnant again. I’m jealous of what she gets to do after she has the baby.

The Duggar and their lot have such clearly defined roles. They have a kid (or 50) and are encouraged to focus on motherhood, putting all of their guilt-free energy into raising their children and taking care of their husbands without having to deal with worldly distractions. They are the epitome of Focus on the Family values. The Duggar women don’t have to choose between motherhood and a beloved career, IF they don’t want to. Their husbands value the profession of motherhood and support mothers 100%. The Duggar (and Dillard) dudes absorb the burden of bringing home the bacon with a smile, sans resentment.

They can eat bacon, right?

When I was in the hospital recovering from appendix surgery, I felt guilty. I wasn’t working, obviously, but because I earn my living as a freelance writer, that meant no paycheck. I missed the kids and worried about their well being, as I’m the primary caregiver, so I knew that in my absence and under my husband’s supervision it was all take out and tornado like messes on the home front. Even though I work full time, I still mom full time and that’s just how it is for us. Once I got home, I needed to rest and rely on painkillers for a week, extending my reign of uselessness. It was horrible. I felt guilty for being sick, which is stupid, but it's true. Not being able to take care of all the things made me crazy. Well, crazier, because the pain killers crushed my creativity and made me depressed. Not a good time.

Michelle Duggar is famous for going forth and multiplying and her family’s religion and lifestyle is one that is, well, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know that it’s really different from what’s typical these days. Whatever floats their ark, right? I don’t agree with what I know of their belief system and some of their rules and lifestyle choices, but I do envy the clear definition of roles.

I’m sure they have their share of difficulties and frustrations, but one of them is not feeling like they are split into a thousand pieces having to juggle numerous roles and meet all of the expectations that come with those roles. They aren’t expected to be all things to all people, to mother and work full time, to continue fulfilling the expectations that come with the traditional role that is still expected of non-Duggar-like women.

I am sad to say that I don’t know one stay at home mother who hasn’t experienced guilt as a result of resentful comments made by their husbands about their “lack of contribution.” I suppose they are out there, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard, personally and from friends:

What do you DO all day?

Why don’t you get a part time job at night?

Why don’t you get a full time job working nights?

I’ve worked all day, I don’t have energy to help with the housework or kids at night.

Unlike you, I have to work long hours because somebody has to pay the bills.

Must be nice to sit around all day.

As if those comments aren’t harsh enough, many women have to survive the bumpy and stress filled transition of returning to work, while still carrying the majority of the full time duties and responsibilities of a stay at home mom. I know I had to and although I’ve been doing it for six years now, it’s still a very bumpy life.

I am sure there are men out there who love having their women at home and don’t question or demean their wives or partners for focusing 100% on care for their children. I’ve never met anyone who is like this and I don’t have any friends who have a partner like this, but I’m sure someone knows someone. I don’t doubt these people exist, but I know they are the minority.

Oh yeah, there are always exceptions to the rule, but now that there are exceptions to the roles women play, women carry a tremendous burden that wasn’t the norm for women of the Silent Generation and the generations prior. Women’s roles were clearly defined. The exception to the rule back then was the woman who had to return to work or chose to pursue a career. That’s just the way it was.

Am I saying it was right? No! And yes. Maybe? I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. All I’m saying is that I experienced a twinge of jealousy upon hearing that Jill Duggar had a bun in the oven, because sometimes I wish things were simple for me, that I had a more clearly defined role, that having a child didn't split me into a million little pieces that I have to put back together every single day. What would that feel like to put 100% into something?

I have a career and family. From the time I went on bed rest with my second pregnancy in February of 2004 to February of 2007 when I started to work part time, I felt a terrible sense of guilt because I wasn’t contributing financially. It was a jumbled and difficult time, my husband unfortunately, not as supportive as he should have been considering our particular situation, something we have since resolved, but still stings when I think about the tension it caused in our relationship. However, even after he got on board, I still beat myself up about the situation, feeling as though I wasn't doing enough, wasn't making a valuable contribution, because what I was doing didn't bring in the dollars.

He didn’t sign on for a Duggar-like wife. He signed on for me, a woman who fit the mold of the modern woman that could was always expected to be able to do it all and then some. I signed on for that too! It was and still is who I am and always wanted to be, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard, that I wasn’t torn, that I didn’t sometimes wish I could devote my entire awesome self to the care and keeping of my children – no career, no guilt, no expectations other than being the best at being a mother and having that be valued as highly as a professional career.

But I’m not a Duggar. I’m a professional woman who also happens to be a mother. Others expect me to do it all and I expect this of myself as well. It’s just who I am! I was born at a time when women’s roles and rights were expanding, and because of this, my role was clearly defined in a different way than women’s roles had been for the previous generation. The atmosphere of feminism shaped me, it was unavoidable. It was also awesome.

Ah, but it’s not easy and it’s certainly not simple either. And that’s why I’m just a tad jealous of Jill. I’m also jealous of women that choose a career over a family. Sometimes I wish I could be a woman with the single-minded focus and dedication to one thing, giving it all my heart, feeling guilt free and never fragmented.

Sigh.



About the Author...
Nicole Knepper
Nicole Knepper is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with two advanced degrees (psychology and gerontology) whose blog, "Moms who Drink and Swear," became the basis for her first book.
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