Just for Moms: The Guilt Series, Pt. 3
Ok, so this is several days... no more than a week late. And yes, I feel guilty for it. Ha ha.
I've thought a lot about my issues with guilt over the last week and a half. And the more I strive to find the source, the more I believe it comes from my horrendously ridiculous expectations of what and who I should be and all the jobs that come with that.
But then that leaves me wondering where all these expectations come from. Why do I put so much on myself?
And I think I've figured it out. It's actually pretty simple. I'm just trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman. You know, the "Who can find a virtuous woman..." passage? If you were or are connected to a group of conservative Christians, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
Much of my teens and early twenties centered around a conservative ministry/organization which promoted ethical character and godly living. Seems like a good thing to promote, but at what cost? Is not the striving for excellence in moral performance the very downfall of the Jewish Pharisees?
Here's the thing. The portrayal of the role of females in society was a mix of high class Victorian, American pioneer, and 1950's June Cleaver. That is one hard model to live up to... Poise and sophistication, manual labor all hours of the day, all the while merrily bustling around making everyone feel mothered and loved. Just think about how many individual jobs that includes!
Let me break it to you....
The high class Victorian ladies did not clean their own homes. They did not teach their own children or even care for them all hours of the day. They did not cook the meals for the family. This is why they were social creatures. This is why they busied themselves with handwork and long hours of reading. They managed their homes, but did not actually perform the majority of the work.
So why do I expect myself to lead a rich social life, push out several craft projects each month, AND do the work of a maid, nanny, and cook?
The women on the plains of America were hard working survivors, but they did not have a kitchen, living room, two or three bedrooms, a bathroom, a lawn, a mountain of toys, more than one meals worth of dishes, more than two or three days worth of clothing, and every other thing we women today must manage and clean. They baked bread, cooked meals from scratch, taught their own children, sewed their own clothes, and helped in the fields. That's a lot of work.
And that was all they could handle. There was no way they could add a home business, blogging, more rooms to clean, more laundry to wash, couponing, hauling children to various activities, weekly playdates, etc. If they were falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day, why do I try to do their work AND my work?
And the June Cleaver myth? I wrote about that once... how I wished for the magic red checkered apron that somehow turned women into cheerful domestic, nuturing creatures. According to my grandmother, who was a mother to young children in the 50's, Leave It To Beaver was not a portrayal of what family life was back then. June Cleaver was not an average housewife. Apparently, life was a lot like it is now.
My grandma was tired a lot. She had babies pulling at her all day. She procrastinated sometiems. She gave in to her need for encouragement over the need for a clean house. She would sometimes leave the highchair tray covered in oatmeal and carry her pajama clad babies with her to the neighbor's house where she would soak up some much needed chat time. (I would equate this to blog time, phone time, Facebook time.)
She tried her hardest to keep her house clean, her children well behaved, and her husband happy. Sometimes it happened. Sometimes it didn't. That was life then. That's life now.
Okay, so I've learned that there is no way I can be a high class Victorian/pioneer/June Cleaver. But what about Proverbs 31? Is that not Scriptural command?
Short answer: No.
But I think I've rambled enough for now. I'll come back to that lady whose price is far above rubies next week.
In The Magic of Ordinary Days, the author talks about those hardworking homesteading women and how many of them went crazy because of overwork and not enough company. That was really eye opening to me. I think it is so easy to feel myself lacking when I start idealizing previous generations of women who didn't have washing machines and microwaves and all of the modern conveniences I do. But, as you mentioned, we tend to over-idealize previous generations without realizing the whole picture.