I don’t know if it is just a woman thing or if men just do it differently, but somehow we think a proper way to measure ourselves and our success in life is to compare ourselves to other women.
I find myself doing it without even trying and it is frustrating! When it comes to being a wife and mother, I find myself using this stupid imaginary measuring stick all the time. I make myself miserable and somehow I still manage to do it. Not only do I try to measure up to various concepts and women, I also find myself considering what other people might think about my actions and different aspects of my life.
This is all very vague and for those of you that know me know that I’m a very open person (duh, I blog about my life). So let’s talk specifics.
First of all, as a wife — even though I’ve been doing it for almost six years, I catch myself being insecure. As a mother, I constantly second guess decisions I make regarding my children and family because I’m trying to be the best. Even when it comes to being a woman, sometimes I can be insecure about who I am as a person (some may be surprised by that).
- My house is spotless…once in a blue moon. It is presentable (in my opinion) about 75 percent of the time. The rest of the time I pray that no one drops by. Why? Because I’ve got about four or five loads of laundry that need to be washed, half of which I can’t wear right now. I’ve got three baskets of clean laundry that are just sitting in my living room in the basket because I hate to fold/hang laundry. As of right now I only have one load of dishes that needs to be washed, but that’s the first time since I don’t know when that there haven’t been at least two loads of dishes that needed to be washed. Don’t even get me started on all of Josiah’s junk laying around everywhere. Also, I have animals, so there may be evidence (such as wet dog smell) that an animal lives in my house.
- About 50 percent of the time I buy organic and gluten-free stuff because I know it’s better. I also avoid MSG and high fructose corn syrup. But you know what? I had tuna helper (with MSG) with canned chicken (not organic) for lunch and it tasted great. We have probably about 100 poptarts in our pantry because my husband works at a poptart factory. Josiah and I will probably have chicken noodle soup (with MSG) and sandwiches, which will be made with wheat bread made with gluten.
- Throughout the week, because I work a job with sporadic hours, there are days that I’m home by 4:30 in the afternoon and I have time to plan special things to do with Josiah. Then there are some nights that when I get home, Josiah eats dinner, takes a bath and goes to bed. In between there there are days when Josiah gets to play and watch a movie while I watch TV. Then there are the times when we watch TV together or we play games.
- After nine months of waitressing at night and trying to teach Josiah at home during the day, I decided to put my degree to use and go work at the newspaper. That means Josiah is going to preschool and will attend public school and Samuel will have to go to daycare.
- When I get up in the morning and get dressed, even when I’m going to work, I normally put a little bit of foundation or powder on and when I’m feeling good I put on a little mascara and lip gloss. Aside from that, I spend less than 10 minutes on make-up. I wear my hair up about 50 percent of the time and other than my wedding ring I RARELY wear jewelry. I don’t like to shop and I don’t like to spend a lot of money. The majority of our family’s clothes are bought from a thrift store or on the clearance rack because I don’t care to spend money on clothes when there are more important things to spend money on. I spent $45 on a pair of tennis shoes at a shoe store in the spring and that’s the most money I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes in my life.
The thing is, if I’m not careful, I feel bad about the fact that my house is not as perfect as hers (I’ll use ‘her’ instead of thinking up names because sometimes it’s my perception that I’m battling, not a particular person). That my house is not spotless 100% of the time and I’m OK with my bedroom being a little bit untidy as long as the rest looks halfway OK.
I sometimes feel bad about the fact that although I know organic and gluten-free is better and preservatives are bad and I know how to cook from scratch that I don’t always do it. Sometimes I let the budget dictate what kind of food I buy and my tired level of the day dictate whether my family will fend for themselves or get a preservative-filled meal.
Especially with Josiah’s sensory issues and Samuel’s upcoming due date, I feel bad that I didn’t make the decision to sacrifice everywhere I could and choose to stay home. I feel bad that I’m not choosing to home school my children and that there are days that they will see their teacher more than they do me. I feel bad if I don’t entertain Josiah enough in the evening because I feel like I’m leaving him to himself so I can selfishly relax and watch TV or sew diapers or clean.
There are times when (especially with the pregnancy) I lose my temper with my husband and Josiah. I am a loud person naturally so when I get upset, I yell. I feel terrible later, like Josiah will be scarred for life because I snapped at him because he wouldn’t hurry up and get his socks on.
I even feel bad about the fact that I’m not super girly. That I don’t care to wear jewelry and I have a ton of it that is just sitting there doing nothing. I feel bad that I don’t have any desire to shop at all the trendy places and wear cute sweaters and get excited about buying a ton of new clothes. I have cute clothes, but I’m also perfectly content with wearing jeans, flip flops and a t-shirt or casual top. The thing is, even though I buy the majority of our stuff second-hand, you’d never know unless I told you.
Other places that I know women tend to feel insecure is when they choose not to/can’t breastfeed. I’m thankful I was able to do that, but I know not everyone can or wants to. I felt bad because I had to have a c-section with Josiah and couldn’t do the one thing a woman is supposed to do. I felt bad after my miscarriages because my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to.
This time around we’ve decided to use cloth diapers. Some women feel bad because they have chosen the convenience of disposable diapers and not chosen the economical and bum-friendly option.
The bottom line is, there will always be areas in our lives where we as women will feel insecure because we do things differently than ‘her’. Your insecurities may not be mine. You may have insecurities that I haven’t even thought of. The thing is, none of the above choices are right or wrong. A woman is not wrong whether she chooses to stay home or work, breast feed or bottle feed.
God created us all different and we have different convictions and different opinions about different things. That doesn’t make us wrong, it makes us different. Some women do put other women down for their decisions about some of the above issues, some women make themselves feel bad because of something another woman does without that woman even knowing it.
We have to stop.
We have to allow God to lead our lives where He wants it to go, not where we think the status quo says to go or where the woman next door goes. I’ve prayed often about homeschooling and asked God if He really wanted me to do that to help pave the way. Instead, He opened the door for me to get a good job and for Josiah to get into a good school.
When we use this impossible to live up to measuring stick to gauge our lives instead of gauging our lives on what God wants, we are falling into the trap of listening to the lies of the devil. Of course the devil wants me to think I’m a terrible housekeeper. Of course he wants me to think I’m a failure as a mom. He wants to tear me down. God on the other hand wants to build me up because I am the child of the one True King.
I may not be a great housekeeper and I’m not a perfect mother, but I am praying my way through life and God has called me to be me. And like Francesca Batestelli said, I want to be free to be me, but in order to do that I must release myself to do so.