April 11, 1007
From Margi: Wife, Mom, Attorney, Professor, Married to a Pastor
To: The Women Who Feel Guilty Looking at the Size 4 Next Door
She bit her lip to keep from biting his head off. It took every ounce of will power to fight back the tears. How could the man she loved so much say that to her? How could he not get it? She knew he said it innocently; but she had hoped he would have gotten it by now.
“You don’t work,” he’d said. “So you should get up with the baby at night.”
Some men get it. Some don’t. It’s not my goal to bash men. God knows there’s enough of that. I’m thankful for men. And I’m thankful for the man in my life (Bill, in case you didn’t know). But how can we women help our guys really understand the relentless pressures of homemaking and child-rearing? To be fair to Bill he has never said those words to me. He values motherhood. He honors my role as a wife. He has gotten up in the night with our children and still continues to do so. He has never considered it my job to take care of the house and kids. And he has never implied that it isn’t “work”.
Unfortunately there are men out there that still think it’s exclusively our job. Sometimes what we do seems under-appreciated and overlooked. But it’s not only the men in our lives that sometimes make us feel inadequate: we women do it to each other.
Ladies, it has to start with us. We have to respect each other and ourselves if we’re ever going to get that respect from the men we love so dearly. I also think we need to be honest with each other and a little more transparent.
When my children were really little, I would talk to other mothers about how they were doing. Mostly, they would smile and say “Fine!” “Great!” And I would think, Wow, I’m barely hanging on. My husband would talk to these womens’ husbands and they would tell him how their wives were crying and were having a hard time handling things.
Why this difference of responses? My theory: most women don’t want to show that sometimes we just can’t handle it. We are overtaxed. People will think I’m a failure.
This is especially true when we think other women have it all together.
In today’s society, you have to be a good wife, mother, cook, maid, scheduler, car-pooler, friend, lover, volunteer, caregiver, supporter, career-jockeying size 6 or 4, who exercises at least 5 times a week and looks good even grocery shopping . . . all with a smile and sparkling laugh.
I don’t know about you, but I’m doing the best I can. Nope, I don’t sit around and watch soap operas eating chocolate bon-bons, I don’t have tea with the girls, I don’t chat on the phone for hours, I don’t have time to even think about getting a manicure, I haven’t shaved my legs for days and I haven’t had my hair done since before Christmas – seriously. My plate is full – for me.
Can other gals run 10 miles at 5:00 a.m. and then prepare a full homemade breakfast for their family and get their squeaky clean kids off to school in freshly ironed outfits, after having Windexed every window in the house, taken time to love their husbands, had their daily devotions, put on their cute little size 4 capris and applied full makeup before 9:00? I don’t know. Maybe. But I definitely am not one of those people. You’re lucky to see me in sweat pants and not pajamas before 9:00–and it’s not because I’ve been sleeping.
God has given us different abilities, skills, gifts, and talents. We also have different capacities: our ability to perform or produce or handle what is coming at us. You do not know my capacities. I do not know yours. Our capacities depend on our age, our stage in life, our emotional, our psychological and physical well-being. Sometimes we can handle quite a bit – bring on the whole entree. Other times our plate is full with just one carrot on it.
My priority, unapologetically and unashamedly is my family. My husband first, and then my children. I want to be there for my husband so that he can serve the Lord in the capacity in which God has equipped him. I want my children to grow up knowing that their mother valued and respected her God given responsibility of raising children and supporting her husband. I’m working at my capacity, given my stage in life, the abilities, temperament, skills, talents and gifts I have been given. (What makes this work is that my husband’s top priority is me [next to God of course.])
Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty that you are somehow not cutting it. It is between you and God. Ask yourself, “am I doing the best I can at this point in my life?” If you are, then stay the course. If not, maybe there are some changes you need to make. Prayerfully consider what God would have you do.
Also, I encourage you to stop comparing yourself to others. I can assure you that even the seemingly most put together women out there have things falling through the cracks – even if it is just their minds. You can’t be all things to all people. You can’t do all things well. We have a saying in the Giovannetti household: “It’s good enough.” Sometimes you gotta settle for “good enough.”
I also encourage you to support the women around you. You don’t know their capacity right now. Show them that you too aren’t perfect and don’t always have things together. Be vulnerable. I personally have yet to meet even one woman, when I dig a little, who is actually totally put together. I have met plenty of women who want me to think they have it all together.
For the men reading this I say, value what your wife does. I’ve had some pretty demanding jobs in my life. Honestly, being a wife and mom is the hardest job, yes job, I’ve ever had. It is relentless, it is all consuming and there are no vacations.
“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” Rom12:6 (NLT) Can we do it all? No. If you are honest with yourself you know it is impossible. Do those certain things that God has set before you in this stage of your life well. Will you sometimes feel inadequate, under-appreciated, insecure, and incapable. Yep. But, “when you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor” (Jas 4:10).
Even if it seems that no one understands or appreciates what you do, God does. Even when it seems that your days are endlessly thankless and that you have nothing left to give, God knows and understands. Ultimately, our honor and reward come from the Lord. Your work is not in vain. Just keep going, at your capacity, and know that when those around you don’t support you, God does.