It’s challenging being a modern woman. Not only do we have to “do it all” but we have to do it all perfectly. But I’ve been coming to the realization that as women we can hold ourselves to unrealistic standards.
I feel like I’ve been having a lot of aha moments recently about the pressures I can put on myself about getting everything done. About being the perfect wife and not-yet-mother. I can feel guilty about not having a perfectly clean house with sparkling white grout. I can wrestle with questions about whether or not I should go back to work once my non-existent children come.
Being a Christian woman can add on additional pressure. I can wrestle over what is the “right” thing to do. I feel called to work and believe I’m using the talents God has given me, but is it what I’m supposed to do? Nonetheless, I think way too much is made out of the scripture that wives are “to be busy at home” (Titus 2:5). Does that really mean that no woman should ever work outside the home? If that’s the case then what about women such as Deborah, Lydia, or even the Proverbs 31 woman? Yes, the Proverbs 31 Woman. I don’t know how you can sell sashes and manage a vineyard without stepping out of your house. Amen.
As I wrestle with guilt over not doing it all and not doing it perfectly enough I’ve had stopped to ask myself, first of all, where is this written? Society may tell me that I need to be a self-sacrificing martyr, but that’s not what God tells me. I’ve read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and I’ve yet to see a scripture stating that I’ll get a fluffier cloud in heaven because my floors were shiny and I never got take-out.
And at the end of my life, what do I want people to say about me? If “she really kept house” was all someone had to say about me after I passed on to the great hereafter, what kind of legacy is that? I want people to say that I lived my life on purpose and to the full. That I was willing to leave the laundry unfolded to be there for a friend. That my work made a difference and helped others to live healthier lives.
So how can we let go of the guilt? I recently finished an excellent book on the matter titled Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu. Like many new moms, she was feeling the pressure of being a stellar employee and domestic goddess. But burnout and frustration over her husband not doing his part led her to evaluate her priorities and step back from feeling that she had to do it all. Here are some principles I distilled from her book:
List your priorities
The goal of this blog to help others live their lives on purpose, with intention. To do that, you have to figure out what matters most to you. Get old school, with a pen and paper, and write out what you’re top 3-5 priorities are. This list will help you to focus your precious energy on what really matters to you, not what everyone else says should matter.
Get help – even the Proverbs 31 Woman had some
The Proverbs 31 Woman, the pinnacle of biblical Womanhood, had help. In verse 15 you see that she has servant girls. Now if she needed help to manage her household, why do we think we’re less than when we ask for help? Now I get it, not everyone could be in the financial position to hire extra support. However, if you have a spouse and/or kids you should be enlisting their help. Everyone helped make the mess, there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t help clean it up.
This was highlighted for me one day while at a friend’s house. Her then 2 year old daughter accidently spilled some water on the floor. She saw a box of tissues nearby and taking one, proceeding to mop up the spill. If a child who could barely talk can learn to clean up, surely teenagers and husbands can as well!
To get the help that we need, however, we have to be willing to let go of our perfectionist tendencies and frankly, our pride that our way is the only (read: best) way. Your husband might not pick out the clothes for the children that you would, but are they dressed and ready on time? He might not wipe that counters after doing the dishes, like you’ve asked him to, but are the dishes done? (Not that I’m speaking from personal experience).
Allow others to drop the ball
Do you judge other women for not keeping to your – really, societal – standards of what it means to be a woman, wife, or mother? Instead of supporting each other and allowing each woman to make their own decisions about what’s best for their lives and families, we can tear each other down. At the end of the day we’re really all trying to accomplish the same thing: home filled with love, peace, and some modicum of cleanliness. Be careful because the measure used to judge will be used to measure you (Matthew 7:2).
How about you? Do you struggle with feeling like you have a do it all? Leave a comment below.