parent opinion

“Never would I make my husband's lunch.” I’m a stay at home mum. But I have a hard limit.

I recently stumbled across an article that stopped me in my tracks.

An article that upon scanning caused an irrational bubbling anger to rise from my chest. 

It was a piece about a woman who wakes at 5:30am every day to make her partner's lunch and snacks for work.

Every day. 

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I don’t believe my reaction was directed towards this particular woman herself. If she enjoys rising at the crack of dawn to create gourmet meals for her partner, power to her. Not my business.

No, my prickly rage was directed towards the comments section.

“Wife goals!” 

“He’s so lucky!”

“What a keeper!”

“How do I get one?!” 

I will never make my husband a work lunch. I am not a lunch-making wife. It’s a firm boundary I have put in place. Never have, never will.

Thankfully, my husband knows this and is fine with it.

The pressure has been there, just never from him. Many people have questioned over the years why I refuse. 

“You’re making the kids' lunches anyway.” 

“You're at home and he is at work.”

“It doesn’t take long.”

My response is the same every time. “I am not his mother.” It’s not an issue of time or fairness. 

During the length of our marriage, I have been both a stay at home Mum and a working Mum. In both situations, my answer has not changed.

I hold no judgement against the lunch-making wives of this world. The labour load can vary in every household. 

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Perhaps the woman who makes her husband's lunch has dinner made for her every night. Or the washing done. Perhaps it’s been a well communicated, fair trade decision. 

Or perhaps it gives her a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that each day at 12pm her husband opens his carefully packed lunchbox and thinks of her. 

Maybe there is a loving note skewered into the sandwich like Cupid’s arrow, a daily affirmation of love. Still, I felt the need to explore the reason why the act of lunch-making could elicit such a reaction in me. 

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I think at its core, some part of a packed lunch feels performative. Let’s say Gary sits down on his break and opens his lunchbox (dutifully made by Gary’s wife) and unveils a steak sandwich. 

All the other boys watch in envy and think “wow, what a top missus Gary has. What a lucky, lucky man.” Poor Jim, however, has a vegemite sandwich thrown together last minute on his way out the door. 

“My god, how is Jim still married. Clearly he’s not loved or cared for. I bet she’s lazy. Probably terrible in bed too.” These are not crazy imaginings. These are exaggerated versions of real lunchroom conversations. The comparisons and rankings of the lunch-making wives. 

Occasionally over the years my husband will innocently remark about a co-workers lunch. He will tell me how delicious it smelled and looked. 

I usually smile and say, “wow I’d love to try it, you should get the recipe and make it for us one day.”

I believe there is a certain kind of man who expects a lunch-making wife. A man who has been mothered his entire life. Who seeks out a motherly bride.

He goes from being doted upon and cared for by his own mother, to passing the baton to his girlfriend, then his wife. 

This type of man drifts through life never knowing how a washing machine operates or the inner secrets of how a pasta sauce is thrown together. 

Every year he experiences the thrill of seeing his child’s birthday gift be opened. His eyes light up as the contents are unveiled before him. A delighted surprise which can only come from never taking part in the purchase, or the wrapping. 

A man who is gifted with the ability to hold on to the magic of Christmas, because he has never thought to peek behind the tinselled curtain and shoulder the burden that comes from bringing the magic to life. 

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The same man who once a year on Mother’s Day throws their children some coins to buy something from the school Mother’s Day stall. 

Or passes his wife a $50 note and tells her to buy herself something nice. 

To be honest, I think I’m jealous of these men. If reincarnation exists, I’d love to come back as the husband of a mother-wife.  

The journey starts from the early days of dating. That’s when you begin to feel the pressure of becoming a mother-wife.  

I too, found myself in a performative audition process to become “a keeper” when I met my husband. Not long after we started dating, he caught a virus and was very sick. 

So for about three weeks, I did it all. 

I cooked and cleaned, I provided medicine, I cancelled plans to keep him hydrated. 

Once he had recovered, I found the habit was hard to break. I was bolstered from the compliments coming in thick and fast about what great “wife material” I was. I could do it all. In heels if required. 

To the credit of my husband, he never complained when I promptly realised what I was setting myself up for and burst the bubble.

I made it abundantly clear that whilst one day I did want to be a mother, I never wanted to be his. 

I needed an equal partner. I wanted to be a companion, not a caretaker. 

Fast forward to twelve years later, we have four young children who I begrudgingly pack lunches for, until they are old enough to be taught how to pack their own. 

This isn’t about the right or wrong tasks involved in being “wife material”. It's simply about what’s right or wrong for you.

Ladies, if you pack your partner's lunch and you enjoy it - good for you! But if you don’t - stop. 

Trust me, he will not starve. The true materials that make you a valued wife are not found between slices of bread.

You can read more from Katie Scoble below:

PARENT OPINION: Why I'm no longer thanking my husband and kids for doing their 'fair share'.

"I feel a visceral rage". I've been isolating with my four kids in Melbourne for over six months.

"Daddy was just tickling Mummy": My very honest recap of what it's like to have sex as a parent.

Feature Image: Supplied.