I remember when I first became a mom. I showed up late to lunch dates, bible studies, or really anything that involved a start time (because, let's be honest, I was never the most punctual person before I had another whole human to dress, feed and pack a bag for). I remember looking at mom's of two, four or (Lord, bless them)... SIX children and thinking, "How are you alive right now?!"
The real gut-punch came one day when I stumbled out of my Cheerio-infested house to head to a play date at another mom's literal, spick & span, HGTV-model home. A mom of three kids, nonetheless. I just knew there was something wrong with me. I started thinking of all the things in my life that I needed to give up in order to keep my house clean. I need to quit singing. I told myself if I quit singing, I'd quit leading worship on the weekends and then I'd quit playing guitar at home so that I could keep my house clean. And also, I'll delete Instagram. Maybe if I deleted Instagram, I'd quit taking so many photos of my cute baby doing so many cute things and I would be able to keep my house clean.
This was my plan. And I was sticking to it.
And then I heard it. "Well, the lady who cleans our house..." The statement that changed my life as a mom forever, just casually mentioned in the middle of a play date. I realized in that moment, that I would never again compare my life to another mom. SHE HAS A CLEANING LADY, for crying out loud. I wanted to raise my praise hands in the air (like I just didn't care) because I was so happy to hear that. Sure, there was no way I could afford to pay a cleaning lady at that point in time, so keeping my house clean was still an issue that needed addressing, but at least the pressure and the weight of comparison was gone.
Lately, I have felt that weight of comparison sneaking back into my life. Maybe now that I have two children (and am struggling once again, to keep my house clean) has caused me to start thinking of why the need to "stay on top of everything" as a mom exists in the first place.
Part of me blames the Proverbs 31 woman.
You know, the one with a whole chapter of the Bible dedicated to her awesomeness.
Let me say, first of all, that I've actually always been a fan of the Proverbs 31 woman. She and I have some things in common. The whole "laughing without fear of the future" goes along well with my personality. And the fact that she likes to make clothes and bedspreads, makes me think she must have been a creative type.
But that stinkin' woman has been getting on my nerves lately with her ability to always make her husband and children happy and never suffer from laziness. I think the one that really got me, and really got me thinking, was the notion that she, "brings her food from afar." Obviously, the woman has never had to grocery shop with two small children... because there ain't no "going afar" for me. The closest grocery store is it, these days (and if we make it out with at least a meal or two, then that's a SUCCESS). So who is watching her kiddos, then?
And there it was. The (second) statement that changed my life forever, "She plans the day's work for her servant girls..." And the weight of comparison was gone again. You see, the Proverbs 31 woman... HAD CLEANING LADIES. Or maybe they were nannies. Or maybe they cooked. But the point is, she had help. I find it ironic that besides preparing breakfast before dawn (of course), it never mentions her specifically cooking or cleaning at any other point in the chapter. Actually, it focuses a lot on her ability to be frugal and love her family and others well.
Sometimes, as woman, we get caught up in comparing our lives to an ideal. When ideally, the standard changes. We cannot compare our current state of life to the Proverbs 31 woman, just as much as we cannot compare our current state of life to the single mom down the road. Or the mom with 1200 square foot of living space. Or the mom with five bedrooms. Or the mom who works. Or the mom who stays home. Or the mom who works from home. Or the mom with six children. Or the mom with one dog (we love our fur-babies too!)
All of our circumstances look differently. So all of our lives will look differently.
What can we do? Help each other. Because, honestly, that's what we need more of in our current society. We need more help. We have bigger homes, full of more junk and bigger schedules, filled with more activities and less help to do it all. I get texts all the time asking for babysitters. Meanwhile, I'm trying to find one myself.
There is a lot of advice out there to quit being busy, and sure - sometimes our lives ARE overbooked and we need to cut things out. But if there is one thing that the Proverbs 31 woman was... if nothing else, girl was busy. Her hands were always hard at work doing something. But it wasn't just busy work for the sake of busyness - no, everything she did was to the benefit of her family.
So next time you are struggling to keep up with an "ideal." Just remember that your standard should not be based on what Martha Stewart is doing down the road, but should be solely focused on whatever benefits your family.
Whether that's eating organic every night at home or grabbing fast food in order to make it to a soccer game. The important thing is that you're doing what's best for your circumstances and for your family.
And when poop hits the fan (quite literally), hire a cleaning lady.