Have you ever had a day when you felt like a true Supermom? It doesn’t happen often, but once in a blue moon, I’ll wake up with extra energy and get dressed before the kids are up. I’ll squeeze some work hours in, connect well with my little ones, and even manage to get a chore done around the house. (Like I said, a rare miracle!)
On those days, I feel unstoppable, and the DJ who lives in my brain spins one of my favorite songs on repeat: Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman.” I kiss my kids goodnight with a deep sense of satisfaction and belt out, “Anything you want done, baby, I do it naturally!”
But on the other 364 days of the year, there’s not much pep in my step, no Whitney blasting in my head. I experience precious, joyful moments, of course, but I feel stretched thin by the day’s demands and incapable of making even a tiny dent in my to-do list.
Where did that Supermom energy go? Is there something wrong with me? Why do I always feel like I’m falling short?
Whether we realize it or not, most of us walked into motherhood with expectations of what kind of moms we’d be. Maybe we used to daydream about motherhood as a kid, or we looked to examples of mothers around us in anticipation of what we’d be like as moms.
And when we become Christians, one example of womanhood takes center stage: the Proverbs 31 woman. As I read this passage, I imagine her walking around singing “I’m every woman, it’s all in meeeeee” as she goes about her roles of wife, mother, seamstress, bargain-hunter, entrepreneur, generous investor, and so much more.
I think of my current situation in contrast: nodding off as I nurse my 3-month-old, only to be jolted awake by my preschooler’s request for a snack. How did Ms. Proverbs 31 manage to stay up late and wake up early, never eating “the bread of idleness” and somehow getting it all done?
While pondering this one day, I suddenly realized something: the “Proverbs 31 Woman” wasn’t an actual woman. In this famous passage, King Lemuel’s mother is sharing a list of attributes with her son to help him choose a wife with wisdom and discernment. She wasn’t describing the King’s actual future wife, but rather giving examples of what good character and Godly values look like.
Of course, there is much godly encouragement to draw from Proverbs 31. But maybe it’s time to stop seeing it as a checklist, and instead view it as a source of inspiration and celebration of all the incredible roles we play as women.
In fact, a look at Jewish cultural practice can give us some guidance. In her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans writes that in Jewish culture, men memorize Proverbs 31 to sing it as a song of praise over the women in their lives. They don’t see it as a litmus test for whether we measure up as wives and mothers, but as a celebration of the goodness we already display, by God’s grace.
Isn’t that freeing? A single day in our lives will never look like the Proverbs 31 passage, nor should we expect it to! After all, every choice in motherhood is a tradeoff. When we need to be more focused and productive, our kids will likely get more screen time. When we take them on a fun adventure out, there’s rarely a home-cooked meal to follow. When we get down on the floor for intentional playtime, it usually means the house will be left in its messy state. And when we take time for self-care, we may have to say no to an activity our kid really wants to do.
We can’t do all the things or be all the things, all the time. But we can be faithful. Though we’re far from perfect, we can pursue God each day, asking Him for strength to live out our many roles in a way that honors Him.
Like the Proverbs 31 woman, we can clothe ourselves with strength and dignity, knowing that God has given us grace for each day—grace that empowers us to obey what He asks of us and forgives us when we fall short.
Let’s pray together:
Lord, thank You that You don’t ask me to be perfect but to be faithful. Thank You for releasing me from the pressure that surrounds me to do it all, all the time. Please help me to remove burdens that You never placed on me and replace them with Your grace. Amen.
This article includes an excerpt from Ellie Hunja’s new book, Blessings, New Mom: A Women’s Devotional, available here and in stores April 11th!
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