She cleans her house to a pristine shine. She cooks from scratch every night for a family who praises her meals. She works a full time job with volunteering on the side. She spends quality time with her kids and even her teenagers are proud to show her off to their peers. Her husband beams when they go out on their weekly date nights. And she’s dressed always in fashioned and looks like she just stepped out of a celebrity salon. She’s the “Super Mom”.
Do you know a couple Moms that fit this description (replacing pieces for other extraordinary credentials, like homeschools 5 respect, obedient and socialized kids; or is Team Mom for her son’s soccer team and Head of the PTA)? Or maybe that’s what you’re striving to be, ever chasing the “dream” of being the Perfect Mom.
Well I just have one thing to say to you, “Stop it!” No really. Stop it. Super Mom, she’s a myth. She doesn’t exist. At least not in the form above. Let me give you an example you may (or may not) know well – The Proverbs 31 Woman.
How well do you know The Proverbs 31 Woman? When were you first introduced to her. For me, it was in junior high. Older (and wiser?) women we’re teaching on how we were to behave and what qualities we should strive for. That’s all well and good, but the teaching often went like this:
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family. (15a)
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. (16) She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. (18) She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. (24)
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (20)
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (21-22)
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (27)
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (28-29)
So from these excerpts we believe “The Wife of Noble Character” (what the Proverbs 31 section is actually titled) should be an early riser, preparing for her families breakfast, lunch and dinner. She works and makes enough money to start her own business (or several businesses). She’s compassionate and always helping the poor and needy. She dresses her family and herself with beautiful and expensive clothes. She maintains her household to a tee and is never found sitting in front of the TV. And her children and husband praise her to all saying “Many women do wonderful things, but you surpass them all”.
But is that really what these 21 verses in Proverbs really saying? I don’t think so. What about the less talked about verses?
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. (11) Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. (23)
A supportive husband who has full confidence in her. What a boost! He can say he lacks nothing of value. But that does not mean he gets everything he wants. Instead he is shown to be respected, wise and an intelligent man who likely has reasonable expectations of his wife and encourages her to do many of the things she does. Also, if he’s an elder, he’s likely not an idle man himself and a good caretaker of his family.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. (13) She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (17)
She is a hard worker. She does it eagerly (and enjoys it), works hard and has done it long enough that she’s conditioned herself for the tasks at hand. This means discipline over time. So likely, she didn’t start this way but learned this over the years.
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. (15)
Um, did you catch that. She provides for her family and her servant girls. Uh, yeah. She had servant girls, and not just one. Yeah, I could use some help! 🙂
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. (18)
Look, she knows when she’s working for something good there will be nights when she does not go to bed! (Oh good, it’s not just me that seems to be up way past my bedtime more days then I’d prefer.) But it doesn’t say she never sleeps or does this every day. If you’ve ever talked to a small business owner, when is the “trading” profitable? Well it comes in seasons… so she does not run on fumes all the time.
But the best and most important part of the Proverbs 31 Woman is this:
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (25-26)
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (30)
Her character is what makes her “The Woman of Noble Character”… not what she does. She has strength and dignity. She can laugh at herself and the future, even though it is unknown. She speaks wisdom that she has accumulated over the years. And she speaks words of useful and encouraging instructions to others (which probably means she doesn’t yell at her kids, got to work on that one). She is not overly concerned by her beauty which can disappear, but instead works on her inside character that lasts. And above all she fears the Lord (meaning, she respects and gives reference to God in her life and circumstances). Which in all respects is more likely the reason for her “success” in business, the praises that come from her children and husband, and the fact that she can do all that she does.
So, what do you think? Would you like to be a real Proverbs 31 Woman (with help from others, confidence and encouragement from your family and a healthy relationship with God to bolster you up) or a Super Mom?
For myself, I’d like to be able to say that I had discipline in my life (and balance that goes hand in hand with that), gained wisdom from life’s ups and downs, and that I developed into a woman with noble character. But I guess that means I might have to let go of some of my Super Mom fantasies which often leads me to over-do the Mom thing. (Case in point, it took be an hour to write this post… while I also had my devotions for the day and cleaned the toilet. Um yeah.) Give me 10-20 years, and then I’ll tell you how I’m doing. 🙂