Monday, May 12, 2014

The Real Proverbs 31 Woman

Does Mother's Day leave anyone else feeling down in the dumps? Please feel free to leave the names and numbers of your therapists in the comments, and mention if they do long-term pro bono work, house calls, and if there's a limit to the number of toddlers allowed in the room during sessions. It would also be great if they do dishes. 

I remember feeling alive, but lately, whenever I call up those moments of exhilaration, my mind conjures parallel images of trampled grass and dead vines. I don't like feeling defeated and weary. I want the world to see joy and laughter when they look at me, at my family. 

But I'm tired of my kids' poop and pee and spit and vomit. I'm tired of early mornings cooking oatmeal, resenting my boss for keeping me from my kids,  resenting my kids for keeping me from my work, putting down my phone to watch my two-year-old's twentieth rendition of crashing a tower of blocks, feeling guilty for not wanting to put down my phone and lose contact with the world outside my preschool prenatal microcosm. 

I'm tired of imagining the judgment of other moms whose kids don't recognize local drive-thrus by name, judging other moms who didn't breastfeed for a year while working full time and pumping milk on their lunch breaks in their cars, and then doing it all again a year later. 

I'm tired of saying no to stuff that's not in the budget but everyone else is doing and posting fabulous pictures of on Facebook.I'm tired of my first jaded thoughts when I see a youthful, smiling new mom post a first sonogram picture. Just wait, just wait, I inevitably think. 

I'm sure those who struggle with infertility must be exasperated at my calloused and seemingly unchecked fertility. I'm sorry. If it helps at all, I feel shallow and selfish at taking my family for granted.

I didn't realize how much sleep I would lose, how much personal time I took for granted, how personal space becomes indefinitely communal when you have children. I'd like to think my true self was who I was before kids --  someone I remember as pretty competent, level-headed, and even compassionate. But maybe I've always been this selfish, and the intensity of having kids just brought out true colors. 

I've been reflecting on that super amazing all competent woman held up as the ideal in Proverbs 31 (after the advice to give strong drink and wine to the perishing, distressed, and poor). And I come to realize, for the first time today, that even this woman has some kind of upper-middle class edge: "she rises while it is still night and provides tasks for her servant girls." 

Well geez, if I could have a few servant girls folding laundry or getting dinner going in a crockpot while I'm doing a midnight check on the baby, maybe I'd have it a little more together too! Maybe I could supply the merchants with sashes, consider a field and purchase it, and plant that vineyard she's got time to tend. 

But then, what of the servant girls? Do they stand any chance of becoming Proverbs 31 women too, or are they just destined to keep hopelessly balancing work and family, helping out the super awesome virtuous woman who gives middle-of-the-night orders? Anyway, I'm done with trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman until I get some maidservants. 

I didn't realize when Jesus said to die to ourselves for others, it wouldn't be something pretty and artistic. 

I didn't realize when God said two would become one in marriage that the sacrifice wouldn't always be romantic or big screen valiant.

I wanted Christianity to be a middle class demographic that would keep our kids moral and our family somewhat "normal."

But my compass must be totally off, because it seems God is far wilder than I expected. He gives us surprises that are bigger than the plans we make, and dreams that are crazier than the safe havens we create.

As my world keeps turning upside down, somehow the most regular event on my calendar is feeding the ducks. I'm okay with that.