Who can find a capable wife? She is far more precious than jewels
The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will not lack anything good.
She never speaks an unkind word to him, always builds him up and encourages him. She is his biggest cheerleader, in private and in public.
She works a full-time job outside the home, and excels in it. She also keeps her house spotless. Her cupboard and refrigerator are full of delicious, nutritious snack options.
She rises while it is still night and cooks healthful, nutritious meals for her household, three times each day, seven days each week. She never feeds her family fast-food meals. She considers each individual’s preferences and makes sure meals satisfy every taste and nutritional desire.
She evaluates her portfolio, always buying and selling at just the right time. She invests everything she makes. She pays cash for every purchase—large and small—and invests 20% of the family income for her future. She is able to balance the family finances so that there is always enough to give to those less fortunate. She rejoices in blessing others.
She exercises every day, balancing strength training and cardio. Her muscles are strong and defined. She is the envy of all of her friends. She is always dressed stylishly, and she has the perfect outfit for every occasion.
She always has the laundry clean, folded, and put away. She is not afraid for her household when it is cold. She is always ahead of the growth spurts, and her children never have pants that are too short or shoes that are too small.
Her husband has a spotless reputation and serves in places of honor.
Strength and honor are her clothing and she can laugh at the time to come. Never does she experience stress or anxiety about all the burdens upon her. She is able to effortlessly balance her job with the demands of being a wife and mother.
She opens her mouth and words of perfect Biblical wisdom simply fall from it. She always knows exactly what to say to everyone. Her kids respond to her every word with the utmost of respect and cooperation. Her words offer loving correction to her children.
She watches over the schedule of her entire household, attends every game, serves as the homeroom mother every year. She never misses a single activity of her children or husband. She can always be counted on to chauffeur all of the neighborhood children wherever they need to go.
Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her:
“Many women are capable, but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates. (Proverbs 31 Dena’s Revised Version)
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, asking for hints and tips on how to balance life when returning to full-time employment. As I read and interacted in the discussion, I began to think about the Proverbs 31 woman—the example of a godly woman to which we women so frequently compare ourselves. It’s a daunting description.
I am the last person who should be writing about balancing work and home life right now. This week, I have found myself stressed and anxious about things beyond my control. Yesterday when I woke up, I simply wanted to curl up in a corner—and cry…and then sleep…and then cry some more.
For the last four to six weeks, my life has consisted of getting up and running children to orthodontic appointments followed by a full-time job. I have called my kids on my way home almost every evening and told them to meet me in the driveway. As I pull up, my kids pile in and are peppered with the nightly routine of “Is your homework complete? Is your room clean? Did you brush your teeth? How was your test?” as we drive down the road to the evening’s activity, usually while I am throwing a less-than-nutritious fast-food meal over the seat to them. We attend the basketball/church/quiz bowl activity and rush home to quickly get through the bedtime routine of showers, brushing teeth, and prayers.
And then I collapse…only to have the madness begin again approximately seven hours later.
I’ve been visiting with a friend over my stressful situation the last few days, and I’ve finally come to realize that there are simply seasons in life (for me, it’s mainly seasons like basketball and soccer) where the madness is impossible to avoid. As a single parent, I have no one else to rely on to run kids to practices or pick them up from after-school activities. I am blessed with an extremely supportive family, but the bulk of the madness falls squarely on my shoulders.
But, I’ve discovered that this frenetic pace is robbing me of joy. I am stressed about things that shouldn’t matter. My exercise routine has been severely impacted. My fast-food diet has left me without energy. When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t even think well enough to mumble a prayer to my Savior. Every area of my life is out of balance because of the non-stop activity of the last month.
I believe it’s time to re-visit some of the lessons I’ve learned over the last few years. It’s time to find a balance in my life. It’s time to find a pace that I can sustain. It’s time to find some rest. It’s time to find some answers that will help balance life.
If you complain, you own it. When I first became a single mom, I worked 12-hour hospital shifts. I left the house before my kids got out of bed, and I returned with just enough time to tuck them into bed. Day after day I would get a call during morning report from my kids. “Mom, I don’t have any clean jeans,” was the standard call. Never mind that I had done the laundry two days before. I don’t know how it happened, but inevitably they would have nothing clean.
Finally, I fixed the problem: everyone became responsible for their own laundry. No clean clothes? Not my problem. I guess you should have been more responsible. Hmmm. So sorry. Hope you can find a pair that doesn’t smell. While we still have the nothing clean problem on occasion, it is not a problem I own.
A similar situation happened recently when my 14-year-old-wanting-a-ripped-body son informed me he wanted to eat all natural to enhance his ability to build muscle. While I support him 100%, he made the mistake of telling me this on a particularly difficult, four-basketball-nights week, while I was frantically running through the grocery store to find just enough stuff to pack lunches for the next day (another task they own). He began to complain that I only cook healthy when it is what I want. While fighting the tears, I informed him that he needed to get on the appropriate website, plan the meals, print the recipes. I would then gladly do the grocery shopping and he could assist with the cooking. Although he still wants to eat natural, I’ve not heard any more complaining (nor seen a menu plan).
An occasional fast food meal won’t kill anyone. While my preference is to cook and eat nutritious meals, I have come to accept that there are some days (or seasons) when a fast food meal is acceptable. While I am the first to admit we have eaten way too many fast-food meals in the last six weeks—a fact that my checking account and waist-line will attest to—I have come to realize that it is ok to have that night where I just can’t do it.
It can be beneficial for your children (and husband) to learn some of these essential skills and to experience some disappointments. If I was still a stay-at-home mom, I am convinced that my children would grow up to be irresponsible idiots. You see, I love to serve. I love to nurture. I love to do for others. I would probably still be tying my 14 year-old son’s shoes and helping my 10 year-old daughter shower. I would pick up every single sock that my 12 year-old leaves laying in the floor.
Going back to work has taught me to delegate responsibilities. So your homework didn’t get finished? Gee… I really hate that for you. I hope you don’t blow your GPA. Oh… you have to finish reading a 330 page book by tomorrow and you are only on page 100? I hope you have a fun evening. I have simply learned to release things, to teach my children to be responsible for themselves. While I still occasionally fret and worry, they have learned to step up and be responsible. And when they fail, I am always there to love, encourage, and help them pick themselves back up. Failure is a great teacher.
Admit you can’t do it all and be willing to ask for help. Perhaps one of the hardest lessons for me is to ask for help. As I said, I have a wonderfully supportive family. Just yesterday, I found myself in a bind—stuck at work with a kid calling to say he needed to be picked up from school at 4:00. Oops. I didn’t realize he had an after-school activity. I was able to call my mom and get someone there to meet him.
I’ve also decided that our hectic pace can cause severe issues keeping my house clean. Since I don’t function well (ok…at all) in chaos, I made the decision to pay someone to clean my house twice a month. Since I would normally pay my kids, it really doesn’t cost me any more than if they were doing it. But, knowing that it is done and done well is worth the $40 it costs me! Nothing brings me more peace than to walk in after work to find a clean house!
I encourage you to take a closer look at the real Proverbs 31:15. The Proverbs 31 woman had servant girls!! She didn’t handle it all herself!
Take time to rest. If it can’t be done in six days, maybe it’s not that important. Last spring, I was training for the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. I discovered that it was difficult to find time for my long runs—sometimes as long as two and a half hours. I’m a morning person, so if I can’t complete my runs in the morning, they simply won’t happen. With work five days each week and soccer on Saturdays, Sunday was the only day I had for a long run. For several months, I made the decision to attend church on Saturday nights so I could run on Sunday morning. I actually found that I was much more rested and rejuvenated when I actually had a day off. Imagine that: God was RIGHT when He told us to have a day of rest!
Take care of yourself. When I was married, I found that it was easy to neglect myself. Everyone else in the family had new clothes and nice things, but it seemed there was never enough money for me. I put everyone ahead of myself. Somehow, when I became a single mom, I instinctively knew I needed to find ways to care for myself. Whether it is occasionally buying myself a new outfit or taking time to get my nails done, I find ways to treat myself, to pamper myself. I find that I am better able to care for others when I take the time to care for myself.
Having said all of these things, I believe there is so much more to being a woman than the many things we do. We are being too hard on ourselves, expecting too much of ourselves. We have to release some of the pressures that the world puts on our shoulders. We have to learn to balance our desire to serve others with the rest that God said was ours.
We often think supermom has it all together—that she is the woman who gets everything done effortlessly. But, I think God has something else in mind when He thinks of supermom. Next week, we will look at the real Supermom…