I’m a Wife with No Name

 

My husband is somewhat of a local celebrity. He owns a local bagel joint that has become a bit of a cult in the area, with long lines of people oozing out the door and around the corner on weekend mornings. Even sometimes on like a Wednesday at 11am. It’s really random and pretty amazing.

Now, he’ll read that last paragraph and get angry and say, “Emme, it’s our store, not mine!” He’s always been very good about handing me some of the fame. But, I don’t want it.

Everywhere we go he is recognized. Sometimes, outside of his apron, people can’t quite place him. Where do I know you? You look so familiar! It’s everyone. It’s everywhere. Once we were even on a remote island vacation and he was spotted.

He bought the business nearly 20 years ago when we were just casually dating, not even monogamous. Well, at least I wasn’t (hi honey!). He was a young, smart, ambitious 28-year-old ready to take on the world. And man, has he crushed it.

I cannot take any credit in the success of the store. He’s the one who works insanely long and early hours. He’s the one whose phone rings at 2am from an employee calling out sick. He’s the one who bears the burden of equipment failures or power outages. He’s the one who does the books and tracks wheat trends in the US to estimate his cost per bag of flour. He’s the one who stresses, probably even more than he lets me know.

His success (yes, his) has given us a home to live in, a car to drive, food to eat and clothes to wear. But most importantly, it’s gifted me the privilege to stay home and raise our boys.

I do complain about stay-at-home mom life and its drudgery, but doesn’t every job come with some bitching, no matter how grateful you are to have it?

My gripe about my husband’s our business is that, even though I have little involvement in it, it is how people define me. I am often introduced to people by my husband’s occupation, rather than my name. I don’t feel this would be the case if he were. . . say. . . an accountant.

“Hi, I want you to meet my friend. Her husband owns BagelKillers.”

This has become my identity.

As if a 30-something woman who has chosen to stay at home to raise children isn’t having enough of an identity crisis.

It’s not that I’m resentful, or envious. It’s nothing like that. I’m wicked proud of him. It’s just that his success has diminished my self-worth, at least in the eyes of others.

My husband’s career has apparently become the most interesting thing about me.

This is the typical inquisition that follows someone being introduced to me:

Do you eat a lot of bagels? Um yes? No? I don’t fucking know. How many is “a lot?” I have maybe one a week? Is that a lot? I don’t really know how to answer this. Can you please reword your question?

How early does he have to get up? Sometimes 3. Sometimes 4. Sometimes 5. Sometimes I just don’t know. He lets me sleep.

What’s your favorite bagel? Oh, for fuck’s sake! Do you really want to know this? Is this really what we are talking about?

It’s not that I mind talking about BagelKillers (totally not the real name, but I kind of wish it was), I just wish it wasn’t the only thing people wanted to know about me. Oftentimes conversations are so overpowered by curiosity about my husband and the store that people don’t even ask about my kids.

I suppose my question is: Is it really that hard to make conversation with a stay at home mom, or is my husband’s business that interesting?

I often wonder if the topic of BagelKillers would dominate my life if I had a legitimate job. Like a paycheck receiving, commute worthy, shower taking, leave the house kind of job. Then would people have more to talk about with me?

Would people still want to know if I eat a lot of bagels?

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If you enjoyed this, check out The Weight of Adult Secrets. Thank you for reading.

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