You can read this on NLQ, here.
Disclaimer: With my father, I have to be careful of the details I give. His place in the movement is easily identifiable with a few key data points. I hope my readers can understand that even though I hate what was done to me, I hate what could be done to people I love even more. In which case, identifying my dad isn’t something I want to do. It’s also unnecessary for my purpose. Now that that’s out of the way -
After Joseph (boy 3) was born, my father was called into a particular ministry that demanded he travel most of the year. My mom said that this was the hardest, darkest period of her life. With three boys under four and my dad gone most of the time, she was the manager of the house and discplinarian.
The boys were a handful. One day, a downstairs neighbor called up and asked my mother if her washing machine was off balance because the neighbor kept hearing a very loud thumping noise. Mom said she didn’t have any laundry in the machine, but would check out the noise. As it turned out, Eli and Samuel were standing in the laundry room “fixing” the washer with hammers. One day, I asked my mom how she couldn’t hear them before the neighbor did and she told me that she’d been so exhausted that she must’ve “zoned out”. Now I wonder if she was just too tired to check it out or care.
She did have reason for her exhaustion, though. Apart from the three boys, she was pregnant with me. After the boy-girl discussion before Joseph, mom never again voiced her desire for a girl (and with subsequent pregnancies, refused to speculate about the sex or find out the sex by ultrasound). I’m told that she was delighted when I was born. She finally had reason to use those bows and ruffles that she’d meticulously sewn years earlier. Use them she did. From birth, there’s not one picture of me in gender neutral clothing. Long before the faux-pigtails sported by Jordyn Duggar, I rotated through the world’s largest assortment of scrunchy-bow-headbands. I was bald until I was two and those headbands, plus the frilly dresses, were the only way to publicly distinguish me from my brothers.
My birth brought my grandparents back for another visit. They hadn’t seen my mother in person since Eli’s birth. They were shocked by what they found. Their once stunning, energetic daughter looked tired and run-down. She had always been shy, but her shyness had been replaced by something darker. She had become completely submissive to the will of my father and it scared my grandparents. My mother tried reassuring them that she was happy, but they didn’t believe her. Once again, my grandfather made the mistake of confronting my dad about my mother’s appearance and demeanor. He, my grandfather, pleaded with my dad to allow them to hire help for my mother. His pleas were rejected.
One of the key components of ATI or Quiverful families is the idea that husbands can, and will, provide for all of their family’s needs. Accepting my grandfather’s offer of help would’ve, in my dad’s eyes, suggested tha the was unable to fulfil his responsibilties as a man. In reality, my mom needed help!
This is where I have a fundamental issue with patriarchy. Men make the decisions about these issues with no consequences. Having help wouldn’t have changed the fact that my father did nothing to help my mother. To the contrary, it may have freed him up even more (if that’s possible). My father never changed a diaper. He never ran a load of laundry or a sink full of dishes. He never mopped a feverish brow. Yet, HE got to decide that accepting help for my mother was wrong. What he did do was finally move my mother out of the apartment and into a bigger home – which she then had to be responsible for, as well as her four children.