When Deirdre Sanford posted a collage of pictures of the bottom of her husband's worn-out Army boots and a note about how much she appreciates him last month to a local Army wives Facebook page she never expected it to go viral -- but it did.
She also never expected a backlash.
"Ladies, I see a lot of y'all complaining how your husband doesn't help clean the house, pick up after himself, or even want to go anywhere when he gets home after work. He comes home complaining he's tired from today's work and becomes a couch potato who turns on the TV and plays video games until it's almost bed time," said the post, which she has since posted to her own page. "I think some of us underestimate how much they go through. I was one of those woman. Until today when I again was picking up after my husband's mess becoming frustrated, I picked up his boots he just bought six months ago. He doesn't wear these boots everyday, either. He rotates his boots throughout the week. I looked at the bottom of them to see if he had clumps of mud underneath them and I saw this. The soles of my husband's six-month-old expensive Rocky boots have been worn all the way down to the point there's a hole in them. I almost cried."
The post goes on to talk about how the bottom of his boots showed her how hard her soldier works during the day -- and how they remind her of how much the little things she does for him, which may seem annoying at the time, matter.
"The point I'm trying to get across is appreciate your husbands more. I know they make messes, and sometimes it is unacceptable. But they do so much for us. They provide for our family, they protect us, and the sole reason we have freedom," she wrote. "Our husband's do appreciate what we do. They may not show it all the time, but they appreciate that we take care of our children, they appreciate the clean house, clean folded clothes, the food you cook for them, the uniforms you put out for them last night so they can sleep the extra 10 mins before getting out of bed at 5 a.m. to go to work. You are their rock, and they are yours. So next time you wanna yell at your husband because he left his PTs in the hallway, go look at the bottom of his boots."
Within a few days the post had been shared from the Fort Campbell Army Wives page across the internet and even duplicated by non-military wives posting about their civilian husbands' work boots. She was flooded with messages thanking her for her post. Some even offered to buy her husband new boots -- she asked that they instead donate boots to soldiers, homeless or struggling families.
But what came with all the shares and thanks surprised Deirdre -- many women, some military wives and some not -- rejected the feelings behind the post, saying they are not their husband's maids or slaves. Some even sent her angry private messages.
"How insulting to the wives that you would presume the husband does all the work. This is 2015. Your post is offensive to those of us who are the dominant breadwinners," one Facebook user, whose thoughts Deirdre shared with the group where she originally placed the post, sent to her in a private message. "I'm the one with holes in my soles from working between high heels and steel toes. This is real life modern day."
Dierdre said she should've been more detailed in her post -- making it clear that she is not her husband's maid, but rather simply displaying appreciation for what he does.
"My husband is a hard working man and comes home and helps around the house and with the kids. He doesn't come home everyday and becomes a coach potato. I'm not my husband's maid, I'm his partner. I help him, he helps me," she told me. "But it's a shame seeing people focus only on that and not on the entirety of the post. I feel like you should even appreciate picking up after your significant others. Because a lot of people don't get the chance to do so anymore. It's the little things you have to appreciate as well."
The post wasn't about working women or even all military spouses -- just about her own life and the lives of many other military spouses, as a stay-at-home mom. And even now that she's recently started a full-time job as a nurse to the elderly, she says working doesn't give her the right to not appreciate what her soldier does during the day.
"I stand on my feet 8-plus hours a day, even double shifts, caring for the sick, watching them suffer in pain and pass away. It's hard on me. But that doesn't give me a right to come home and not appreciate my husband for his hard work and make him do everything without me lifting a finger. We both bring income into the home. We don't put one another above each other. Our marriage is 100/100. Not 100/50," she said.
In the end, she says she hopes her post just helps other military spouses appreciate the hard work their husbands and wives do every day.
"I was just overwhelmed how many wives on the Fort Campbell Army Wives Page was able to relate to my story and that it helped remind them to appreciate their significant other," she said. "Our soldiers boots don't look like that from them dragging their feet. [They] look like that because they do ruck marches, they're deployed for nine-plus months, they're in the field for weeks or months at a time, on their feet all day, everyday, and the blisters on their feet prove that.
"My husband comes home tired everyday. But he puts that aside and puts a smile on his face for his children and me when he comes home. He's a amazing man. I'm very lucky to be his wife and be able to appreciate the things he is doing for our family and our country. I'm very proud of him."