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Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Does Dr. Laura know what women want?

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17 2013 3:09 p.m. MDT

Is there any book out there on the proper care and feeding of wives?

I’m just curious. This month for book club, we are reading “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands,” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I was actually excited to read this book. I thought it would be a very intriguing read. Any “bible” on how to care for our husbands would be, right?

I jumped right in, dog-earing almost every other page. Not necessarily because I agreed or disagreed, but because I thought some of Dr. Laura’s opinions were fascinating and would create a great discussion.

One paragraph from a caller on Dr. Laura’s program particularly interested me. It was from a male, expressing his feelings about his wife. He said this:

“They run around in ‘mother attire’ all the time rather than what they used to when out fishing for ‘father’ and this continual visual turns most men off or pushes them elsewhere. … Not only do many wives look like mothers most of the time, they move about the home constantly in mother mode: barking out orders, directing traffic and beating the family drum. While this is all well and good, they forget to slip into wife mode, woman mode, lover mode, companion mode during private moments with their husbands.”

Up until this point, I could understand and even agree a little with Dr. Laura’s opinions on taking care of our men. Nagging, griping, complaining, gossiping to our girlfriends — yes, those things do happen and should be kept to a minimum.

But this guy really hit a nerve. I wonder what he meant by “mother attire”? You mean six-inch Jimmy Choos and Dolce and Gabbana dresses aren’t work-appropriate? Come on. We’re MOTHERS, not runway models (although a lot of gorgeous mommies I know could be.) Just like some men wear Wranglers and boots to work, others a suit and tie, we wear things like leggings and boyfriend T-shirts for two reasons: comfort and convenience. Flattering is optional.

I for one simply don’t have the time to spend an hour or two in front of a mirror dolling myself up to look like a “lover.” (Whatever look that is, it's probably not preschool pickup appropriate anyway.) We are continually being spit up, spilled or pooped on, grabbed, snagged and dirty dish-ragged. We spend our days holding, hugging, crawling, carrying, chasing, carpooling, cooking and cleaning. We need “work appropriate” attire, and, sorry to say, sometimes sweats do the trick.

Now. Having said that, I love getting glammed up as much as the next gal. Date nights and Sundays are perfect for that. I really think that if a wife looks good she will feel good. I love showering in the morning. It doesn’t always happen. I love having a nice haircut and style. That happens even less frequently. I enjoy the look of my face with makeup, but don’t feel like I need or even want it everyday.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been so used to going overboard all the time whenever I give stage presentations or performances that I don’t feel like I need to try so hard during the day. I want to look nice for my husband. I also want to feel like there isn’t any added pressure, especially from him, to look primped and perfect all the time. If the aforementioned caller is looking “elsewhere” because his hard-working, sleep-deprived, exhausted wife is spending all her time tending to and taking care of HIS children, well … maybe she should take a hard look at him.

I struggle every single day trying to find a good balance between wife/mom/woman mode. And wondering: Aren’t I all of the above? Woman mode should be all-encompassing. It adds a lot of stress on our already-worried minds to think that our husbands might have wandering eyes if we don’t dress to impress every day.

I’m glad my husband doesn’t expect heels, red lipstick and an apron when he gets home.

But that’s not to say I won’t every now and then…

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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