There are so many beautiful ways to express family life with images of domestic bliss. Real life is rarely as blissful as it is represented in media. Social media gives us a glimpse into edited family life. As these beautiful images fill our social media feeds, it is easy to lose sight of the heart of a mother (the heart, as the very being of a woman). Her heart witnesses to life itself. SHE has the unique capacity to foster humanity and defend the beauty and truth of life.
Yet, it’s easy to compare our family life and our homes to those we see on Pinterest. Sometimes, self criticism gets the best of us–we feel we should “do more” or “be more”. Or, that our homes should be be more ‘stylish’ or image our family life or motherhood in a certain way.
What if you think your home décor doesn’t say ‘vintage, elegant chic’ or your personal style is a begrudging nod to, ‘nice try on modern, eclectic bohemian’? What if you’ve been in spandex for three consecutive days and haven’t seen the gym or been for a walk once in those three days? What if you don’t make your own natural laundry detergent and herbal remedies for your kids? (All great ideas and inspirations. I love them all–including the spandex).
We forget we are heroines–no matter where we work, no matter what we wear or how stylish our home may be. We are heroines because we are women. We may have more questions than answers and feel unprepared or inadequate in our response to the duties and the mission before us. However, by our ‘feminine genius’, as John Paul II wrote, women are uniquely gifted as guardians of life and humanity–we have to guard our minds from images and false narratives that distort this truth and attack motherhood.
Caring for a busy household and nurturing children is comprised of many small acts of love throughout the day. It easy to lose sight of creativity, spontaneity, simplicity and joy. Oh, sure, a highly organized house in which everyone equally accepts familial responsibilities provides a more harmonious existence (especially if you have the bar ware to make a great Martini at 5 p.m.); but a mother is much more than a domestic diva. She is a defender of life. By her sacrifice and wisdom, she creates culture and contributes to society.
The truth is that kids do challenge us to be better people at 2 a.m. in the morning and in the grocery store. But we don’t always have to be inclined toward personal “self-improvement” or stylish decor or increased domestic productivity. Virtuous living requires an authentic understanding of women as persons, as mothers.
It’s hard to create the ‘perfect home’ life and the ‘perfect’ family life. We all know that no one has the ‘perfect’ home but then we see images which put us into doubt–
A friend of mine texted me one morning:
I was looking for an online survey to see what’s wrong with me. I don’t have the desire to keep up with cleaning…but I think I might be just busy and maybe lazy?
Certainly, keeping up with household duties should be everyone’s job. But sometimes it’s too easy for moms to allow negative thoughts to creep in and diminish the many ways that womanhood embraces humanity.
Many women’s bibles studies reflect on the ‘Proverbs 31 woman’ as a model for wives and motherhood. Would it surprise you that Proverbs 31 describes a “woman of valor” , a heroine, and that it was written by a woman? The Proverbs 31 woman reveals that a singular expression of motherhood is insufficient.
Dr. Mark Gizsczak says a more accurate reading of Proverbs 31, reveals a ‘woman’ engaged in diverse activities and commitments to (at-home) industry, devotion to family and culture, and as a source of wisdom:
What is striking from a modern perspective is that this text lauds the woman’s financial worth in her traditional role working in the home, which expands into external networks, while our era often overlooks this in favor of the financial gain of working outside the home.
Here is a picture of a “woman of valor” who stays at home–who works from home. When we hear the term stay-at-home mom (SAHM) it often represents a negative mental image: a mom who doesn’t “work” or doesn’t contribute to the economy or the culture. Worse, the perception is that a SAHM has the “luxury” of staying home–which subtly dismisses the sacrificial nature of her choice. Ironically, a biblical perspective offers a more progressive view of women’s dignity than we might realize.
Who we are as women is gained over a lifetime, throughout seasons of life—in motherhood, as grandmothers, as aunts, as sisters—as friends. Womanhood is a supreme gift. A mother is a supreme gift to children and to the world, as a person.
The uniqueness of “you” is a gift…and if you decide to take a break, have coffee and forget about ‘stylized’ living or indulge the peaceful rest every mother’s soul needs, it doesn’t make you “lazy” or a poor example of a Proverbs 31 woman. It makes you human. A humble heart is full of valor. Children need to see their mom’s valor in her expression of her humanity and in defense of human life. Moms are heroic.
You might ponder how to find the motivation to clean or to create vintage pallet wood décor, or if you should go back to work or quit work, or wonder if your baby will sleep more than 2 hours at a time, or if your husband will make it through the new job transition, or if your faith will help you survive postpartum depression, or if your family can afford vacation this year, or if your house says, ‘beautiful thrifty elegance on a budget’—these thoughts and others fill our heads. . .but then, a time should come, when only God occupies your heart and mind. He wants you to rest in Him. Surely, the Proverbs 31 woman permitted herself divine rest.
We can be sure of one thing: We were born to be women of valor. It will require a heroic effort to battle a deadly culture that weaponizes women with the ‘superpower’ to “slay” human life.
[BTW–Here is a wonderful Novena, Mary Undoer of Knots to pray when false ‘perfection’ burdens your heart or when family wounds need healing].