Have you ever read about the Proverbs 31 woman in the bible? If you’re like me, you have read this passage many times, attempted to memorize it, have at times felt motivated to strive to be like this Proverbs 31 woman, but then realized that she is impossible to live up to.
I think that many women can relate.
A handful of months ago, I read a blog post by Jen Hatmaker that has been running circles in my mind ever since, about the Proverbs 31 woman (you can read it here).
Basically she has an excerpt from Rachel Held Evans, who talks about how her Jewish friend radically changed her understanding of Proverbs 31.
Evans says that when she mentioned Proverbs 31 to her Jewish friend, her friend told her that in her culture, Proverbs 31 is a huge blessing to women! It is not something that is seen as a standard to live up to, but rather a celebration of all and any of the things that women do.
As a matter of fact, their husbands read (or sing) it to them on the Sabbath day saying, “Woman of Valor!”
Her friend talks about how it is not a checklist to fall short of, it’s a celebration of the things that you are doing!
So I’ve started thinking about this in terms of Motherhood lately.
I think it’s easy to fall on one end of a spectrum when it comes to other moms and the way that they do things. Either we judge them because they do not do things the way that we do or we think is best; or we feel insignificant and insecure because we feel like we just can’t seem to hold things together like they do.
But what if we approached it from the Jewish woman’s understanding of Proverbs 31? That each thing a mother does well is a celebration! We all have different and unique gifts to offer our families (and the world). We each have different passions, areas of interest, and personality. So what if instead of treating motherhood like a competition with select winners, we celebrate the different successes, achievements, personalities and gifts?
I imagine it would look something like this:
Organic mom: we celebrate you! You are passionate about feeding good and healthy food to your family. You have put extra time into researching what food is best for your family, have extended your budget, and exercised self control in your meal provision for them. You are blessing your family with this gift.
We do not judge you. We are not insecure around you or take this to reflect poorly on us. We simply celebrate the ways you are serving your family through food!
Craft mom: we celebrate you! You are creative, thoughtful, and provide such fun activities for your children. Your home looks like a Pinterest board and your kids are having a blast. You love it. You have drawers filled with craft supplies and random odds and ends. Your home is filled with homemade paints, monogrammed toy bins that you wood-stained and painted yourself, and you have 2 million uses for mason jars. Not to mention, the coolest handmade party favors.
We do not judge you. We celebrate you! We refuse to feel bad about our one craft project gone disastrous or the fact that we don’t even have glue or popsicle sticks in our possession. Your gift is your gift and we will not let it make us insecure. We celebrate your creativity! You are blessing your family with your craft activities.
Trendy mom: we celebrate you! You always dress so cute, it looks like you walked out of an add in Elle magazine, with a baby on your hip. Childbearing/rearing has changed your life in many ways, but it hasn’t changed your style. You love pairing cute handbags with matching scarfs, have brightly painted toenails, and could pin your own hair tutorials. You may drive a minivan now, with cracker crumbs on the seat and nursery rhymes playing in the CD player, but you have kept your closet and still look like you know your way around Nordstrom.
We do not judge you. We will not feel insecure about our gym shorts and pony tail, sporting spit up or pb&j stains on our t-shirt. We celebrate your style! We appreciate your love of fashion and admire your ability to put effort into your wardrobe and appearance. You are a gift to your family.
Fit mom: we celebrate you! You always make time to workout. You were the one who did pre-natal yoga and still went running or exercised throughout your pregnancy. Based upon your fitness, one would never know you carried and gave birth to children. You take advantage of opportunities to walk places, with one child strapped to you in a carrier, one in the stroller, and maybe even one holding your hand. You make friends at aerobics classes, and love being active.
We do not judge you. We do not feel insecure about our muffin tops or feel ashamed if the way we break a sweat is by lifting the stroller out of the trunk, rocking our babies, or strapping kids into their car seats. You are blessing your family by keeping yourself healthy, increasing your energy levels for them, and teaching them to be active. We celebrate you!
Scheduled mom: we celebrate you! You keep your kids on a schedule. Nap time, bed time, snack time, and meal times are always on time. You plan playdates months in advance, and make sure any travel plans work around the routine you’ve got going on. You believe consistency is key, and your children can know what to expect on a daily basis.
We do not judge you. We will not feel insecure about the fact that our children have been taking car naps, have gone to bed late, or don’t have a consistent meal schedule. Your consistency is a gift to your children, and we celebrate your ability to stick with it!
Un-scheduled mom: we celebrate you! You are go with the flow, spontaneous, and always up for an adventure. You babies may not get on a schedule until they develop one themselves, and even then it may be different each day. You’re always up for doing new things and meeting new people, and your children get to experience that with you. Your home environment is relaxed and stress free.
We do not judge you. We will not get down on ourselves or worry that we are not fun enough or laid back enough. We salute you! Your personality and ability to roll with the punches is a great gift to your family, especially in a culture that can be so over-busy and uptight.
Technology free mom: we celebrate you! You won’t let your children under the age of 2 watch television. You are committed to limiting screen time. You leave your phone in your purse and are determined to live in the moment, giving un-divided attention! You may miss a lot of calls or take forever to text someone back, but you are busy with the kids so you don’t feel bad.
We do not judge you. We will not roll our eyes at your discipline and self control, nor will we feel insecure about the fact that we don’t know how we would make it through the day without allowing some screen time. You are a gift to your family. This is something you are passionate about, and it is a blessing to those around you! Not many people in our culture today can do this, so we say “well done, mama!”
iPhone mom: Well, you know how I feel about all that 😉
Hands-full mom: to the mom’s out there with 4+ kids, we celebrate you! You have opened your womb, home, and resources to more children, viewing them as a blessing rather than a burden. You have accepted chaos and have been willing to serve and sacrifice so much for these little humans. Your job is not an easy one, but it is oh so very valuable and honorable! We admire you. Keep your head up. You may feel like it’s all you can do to feed your kids a hot dog, get dressed (or even showered! Novelty!), and have any semblance of order on a day to day basis, much less worry about organic eating and crafts and schedules and fashion and fitness. Keeping everyone fed, clothed, and alive each day feels like a victory. It is. You are a hero.
We do not judge you. We do not feel superior for “having it more together,” nor do we feel inferior for not being able to do what you do or not having the gift of so many kids. We celebrate you! We bless you! Your love and service to your large family is an incredible gift. Your hospitality and selflessness to your growing family is like water to this thirsty, selfish generation.
Same goes for Natural Birth mom. And Epidural mom. And working mom. And stay-at-home mom. And DIY mom. And Earthy Crunchy mom. And Sports mom. And Research mom. The list goes on!
All of these things involve Proverbs 31 stuff. And to all of you I say cheers! May you know that your work is valued, your passions and personality are gifts to your family, and you don’t have to be a different kind of mom then the kind that you are! Woman of Valor. We celebrate you!