I have done a lot of thinking since my last post and have had the opportunity to discuss my feelings with my husband and he said something to me that really hit on something important and made me re-evaluate some of the feelings I had originally.
“You are a good wife and mom. Just not a great housekeeper. And that’s ok.”
That’s what my husband said, and I don’t think I have ever loved him more than in that moment.
You see, what I keep forgetting is that me being able to clean my house on a regular basis, or prepare meals, or do laundry, are not measurements of my worth or my ability to be a wife and mother.
As forward thinking as we tend to be in this day and age, we still have this pressure on women to be more than they already are. And not only that, we have wrapped up these unrealistic expectations into the very definition of motherhood and marriage. A good wife becomes someone that looks after her husband – and how does she look after him? By make sure he has clean socks of course. A good mother becomes someone that cares for her children – and how else can she do that by providing them with a spotless house, balanced meals, and never yelling?
If a mom yells, feeds her kids pop tarts, serves meals on paper plates, or buys new clothes because it’s easier than doing laundry then she has somehow failed a small part at what she was decided to do with her life or with her time.
Now I want to make it clear here that I am NOT talking about abusive and neglectful parents. And I’m sure that there will be countless mom’s that read this and think to themselves “but if all a mom feeds her kids are poptarts then she might as well gift wrap a blood sugar monitor for them on their 10th birthday for their diabetes. That’s child abuse.” And that is exactly the sort of attitude that needs to stop. It’s not “the media” that is the greatest danger to women here when it comes to forming their opinions on what a good wife or mother should be, it’s their fellow women who continually project their own insecurities onto those around them.
I think it’s fantastic when a woman has a clear idea of what she wants for herself, and for her family, and has a healthy set of priorities and is able to carry out those tasks and fulfill those ideals. But the truth of the matter is that none of us are able to live our own ideal, perfect life. If we are strong in one area, we are undoubtedly not living up to our own expectations in another area.
Maybe homegrown, organic foods are very important to you and so you make those a priority to serve your family – that’s awesome! But maybe you really are very bad with money and you often spend more than you should and forget to pay your credit card bills some months.
Maybe you think having a clean and welcoming home is vital so that your friend’s and your children’s friends can always feel welcome in your home and you enjoy entertaining. But maybe you have a poor sexual relationship with your husband and your marriage is really hanging on by a string.
Maybe you work hard outside of the home to pursue a fulfilling career and teach your children that a woman can accomplish anything, no matter where she came from or what others have told her she can do. But maybe you aren’t very good at cooking and spend a lot of time reheating frozen meals and ordering pizza.
Or maybe you are like me and you take joy in cooking and in crafting, but have spent the past five years at home, paralyzed of failing, worried about leaving your child in the care of a stranger, struggling to get out of bed in the morning, and losing yourself in the process of trying to achieve and maintain a “perfect” home. And you forget that being a mother, a wife, is so much more than doing those things.