Let me begin this post by creating a mental image of myself this week for you: I’m sitting on a couch surrounded by pillows with a heating pad on my back and my feet up on an ottoman. There is a box of tissues to my right, a bag of cough drops to my left, a messy table beside me full of tylenol, tums, prescription meds, water, prenatal vitamins, etc. and I have a stain on my shirt from where I spilled my dinner. Mind you, this is my 2nd stained shirt since I spilled tomato soup on the white tank top I was wearing earlier… I look like I’m flipping you off because I jammed my middle finger in the dresser drawer this morning (which makes typing a bit tricky), and if I stuck my tongue out at you (not quite sure why I’d do that…) it would be side-ways since my jaw is currently locked.
Sounds attractive, huh? Just keep that image in mind as I proceed…
Yesterday I was watching The View (I have a thing for morning television these days, since I don’t have a thing for walking or moving…) and they had actress Dana Delany on as a guest. If you don’t know who that is, she was on Desperate Housewives and now stars in her own show “Body of Proof.” I’ve never seen it and I’m guessing you haven’t either (I’ve never heard anyone talk about watching it), so I’ve included a picture of her to help. Anyway, the chatty annoying hosts of The View asked Dana Delany about her “independent” views on life since she is not married and does not have any kids. She responded by saying that she doesn’t think she could do her job and be a wife and mom; that it would be virtually impossible to balance both lives and would not be fair to the kids. She felt she had to choose one or the other, and she chose her job. And I have to admit, I felt it was refreshing to hear. Not that she chose work over family for her life, but that she actually acknowledged the difficulty of doing both and the need to make hard choices in the matter. That she didn’t wear a plastic smile and act like she could do it all.
It was very different from a magazine article I once read about Kelly Rippa. The article was written in an upbeat, peppy tone about how Kelly Rippa is basically Superwoman and does it all! She works out every single morning and maintains the perfect body, then heads to work where she co-hosts “Regis and Kelly” on national television, comes home where she is super-mom and super-wife, attends charity events, fundraisers, etc and always wears a smile, never stressed. The article applauds her ability to not have to give any of these things up and promotes the message that as a woman, you should be able to be equally career driven as you are family driven, you should be able to do it all!
As I was watching my 23498203rd episode in a “Brothers & Sisters” netflix marathon today (ok, maybe episode 2 or 3…or 5), the mother (Sally Field) is boasting about her oldest daughter, how she is president of her company, has 3 kids, and balances it all so well!
Earlier today I realized that women from my mother’s generation or older seem to get irritated when I talk about the difficulty of pregnancy weight gain or don’t seem to understand and relate, whereas women in my generation who are either pregnant or have recently been pregnant readily identify with the struggle of gaining weight and watching their bodies change during pregnancy (hang in there with me, these thoughts are all connected I swear!) I started thinking that perhaps this is due to the constant cultural pressure we feel today as women to be able to do it all. To be a good wife, a great mom, AND a thriving career woman; to be pregnant and grow a child while still having the same perfect body, just with the added cute little bump bulging forward under your trendy maternity clothes (PS: Beyonce, I don’t care about your “bikini body bump” and would prefer not to see pictures of it posted everywhere. You will hit 3rd trimester at some point… show me pictures then!)
Now hear me out, I don’t have anything against women working or pursuing careers while having a family, and contrary to my attitude in most of these posts I don’t hate skinny women (most days). I’m just saying we need a break from the lies that we should be able to manage all of these things in a perfectly balanced life! It’s exhausting, and it’s not healthy. It leaves women striving hard, starving themselves, stretching their limits, letting their marriages suffer, getting zero sleep, and not having healthy hobbies or community in their lives. And we feel like failures if we can only focus on 1 (or even 2 or 3) things at a time.
My goal for this week, now that I’m not working, was to be super house wife. I had plans to get our apartment nice and clean and reorganized; to go to the gym everyday (now that our apartment complex has FINALLY opened the gym!) and make amazing meals that would be on the table ready for my husband when he got home from work. Well if you still have the image of me from above in your head, you know things didn’t quite work out that way… The gym? I’m lucky to make the walk from the living room to the bathroom. My husband has been so wonderful. On top of working long hours this week, he has made several grocery trips (sometimes running back out to get an extra box of tissues, etc.), has been cooking dinner, and helping me function in simple little tasks I cannot do right now. So much for housewife of the week, huh? I feel like a lump on a log, and it has been hard for me to accept the fact that I have limitations and need help. Yesterday someone that I follow on twitter quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9, instructing believers to boast in their weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on us and be shown through us. Someone else tweeted, “Don’t waste your thorn” referring to Paul in the New Testament when he experienced what he called the “thorn in my flesh.” Then when I turned to my daily reading in “Abide in Christ” the chapter was titled, “Strength in Weakness.” Hmm… maybe God is trying to tell me something? Here is a rich quote from that chapter:
The Christian often tries to forget his weakness: God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it: God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it. The Christian mourns over his weakness: Christ teaches His servant to say, “I take pleasure in infirmities; most gladly will I glory in my infirmities.” The Christian thinks his weakness his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God: God tells us that is is the secret to strength and success.
Feminism, while in support of not oppressing women, has also sold us this idea that we are superhuman and can do all things. In a time where everything is about teaching children self-esteem and where we strive for the American Dream, we believe we should always be able to pull ourselves up “by our bootstraps,” that happiness is found in achievement and success is measured in numbers and results rather than faithfulness. Self actualization is more highly valued than service, and we want instant results for everything. Such thinking leads us into a deception so deep that we don’t see our desperation for a Savior, and we kill ourselves slowly along the way. I fear for my female peers (and myself) that we’re going to burn ourselves out at a young age trying to wear 2309283 different hats and mimic the Kelly Rippa image.
In scripture we see that we are finite beings, with limitations, imperfections and needs. Thankfully we have a loving God who was perfect for us in our place, who loves us in our weakest moments, and gives us His strength to show the world.
So here’s to a week when I can barely make it off the couch or wash my own hair! I raise my glass (mug) of hot apple cider to the truth that it’s ok to be a mess. I don’t have to be perfect, I am loved by God and delighted in by Him every moment, even these :).