MM: I Hate Proverbs 31 Wymyn

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Memo To:  All Normal Women

From:  Margi, Wife, Mom, Attorney, Professor
RE:  I Hate Proverbs 31 Wymyn
 

I have decided I hate the Proverbs 31 woman.  [If you don’t know who she is, click here.]

 

I feel a lot of pressure to be her.  From my husband? No.  He seems to be content with me.  This anniversary (our tenth) I gave him a card that read, “If I hadn’t found you, I’d be driving somebody else nuts.”  He laughed. Cautiously.

 

octomom2.jpgI am, in many ways, what I think a good feminist would call, successful.   I am highly educated.  I am independent in thought.  I am assertive.  I am feminine but not wimpy.  I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let him forget he’s a man.  I’m a woman, W-O-M-A-N, woman.  (Remember that one?  if you don’t it is because you are younger than 40).  I work at home, outside the home, I volunteer, I exercise, I cook, I try to look good.  I am friendly.  I am kind.  I help others.  I play with my children, I help them with homework.  I do laundry, I iron, even my husbands undershirts (my policy, not his).  I can play Candyland and Twister and still relate to and with highly educated, successful professional business people.  I am expressive, progressive, aggressive, impressive, obsessive and . . . depressive.  

 

I can’t take it!!!!!  I can not be all things to all people.  I have decided I just am not a Proverbs 31 woman.  Trying to be one is making me very tired.  

 

Last night I got ready for bed at 8:35 p.m. out of sheer exhaustion.  I did not however drop off to sleep because, as I was getting ready, I noticed that Bill had thrown out the wrappings of another deodorant bottle.  So, I went to bed thinking I need to remember to buy more deodorant.  Oh, I should write that down.  Then I thought, I should remember to put a list in the bathroom so I can make a list.  Then I noticed the bar of soap was now a shard that could get lost in a body fold.  I thought, I need to put out more soap.  So, I got more soap and noticed that there was only one bar left.  Oh,  thought I, I should write that down.  Oh yeah, got to remember to make that list.  

 

momeating.jpgWhen I finally crawled into bed my mind was full of thermal imaging scanning, backscatter, and the the 4th Amendment, the applicability of Sarbanes Oxley to the corporate world because of Enron and the like, copyrights for music downloads and the legality and ethics of P2P file sharing.  I had been preparing for my Business Law class that had to teach the following morning.  I then started thinking of a person I am so desperately trying to help find a job.  The images of my poor exhausted mother and all the struggles she is going through flew into my head.  I then thought about the clothing that I must iron for the family for school and work for tomorrow morning before I leave the house at 7:30 a.m. to go teach my class.  I then had to figure out the best way to rush after class to get strawberries to pass out to my daughter’s first grade class after I read them “The Big Hungry Bear and the Red Ripe Strawberry” for literature day.   I finally feel to sleep at about 10:00 p.m. even more exhausted and anxious.

 

By the way, lest you think ill of my wonderful husband, he pitches in around the house and with the kids like no one else I’ve ever seen.  

 

measuring.jpgI wondered what that smug Proverbs 31 woman would say.  There is a woman that I hear occasionally on Christian radio.  I don’t even remember her name.  She talks about being a Proverbs 31 woman.  I don’t know her name because as soon as I hear her melodious voice I change the station.  Oh, I am sure that she is a very nice person.  I would probably like her very much, if I were to get to know her.  But in truth, I hate her.  Why?  Because I feel so inadequate when I listen to her.  One day she was describing fun things to do with your kids in the snow.  Make snow cones.  Make snow angels.  Catch snowflakes and examine them under a magnifying lens.  Look, I don’t have time to buy snow cone syrup.  I don’t know where the magnifying glass is and there isn’t any snow anyway.  I guess if I were truly a Proverbs 31 woman I would manufacture some.

 

I think a lot of women feel like I do.  We really try to do our best.  It just never seems enough.  I wonder if all that “liberation” ever liberated was the monster of insecurity and inadequacy.  Not only do many of us have jobs outside the home, but now we have to balance the job outside and inside the home.   It is almost like I have no choice but to work in both places.  I don’t want to be out of the work force for so long that I am deemed unemployable after the kids grow up.  I worked hard to get my law degree, shouldn’t I be using it?  But then, I also have the pressure of picking kids up, making meals, doing laundry, noting and remembering when items become depleted in the household.  I have to make sure clothing is ready for school and work.  I have to dust, vacuum and clean.  There are seemingly a million things to remember, schedule, start, finish, maintain, dispose of, file, prepare.  You get my point.  And I am married to one of the good ones.  A really good one.  

 

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It is no wonder that heart attacks in women are increasing.  Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t had one yet.  

 

I think if you talk to other women honestly and openly you will find that you are not alone.  We’d all like to be the Proverbs 31 woman but most of us aren’t.  And maybe that is the point.  Maybe Proverbs 31 is meant to be challenging rather than discouraging.  Maybe it is like a personal coach that tells us “Look at all you can do.  Look how marvelous you are, you woman.”  Can we do all these things?  Maybe not at all one time, but yes, in a lifetime, we can. 

 

Oh, my husband just came in and told me we are out of cranberry juice.  I  should write that down.  Oh yeah, I forgot, I need to make that list.  I really should write that down – “make a list.” 
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15 thoughts on “MM: I Hate Proverbs 31 Wymyn

  1. Loved this post! (I came here from the wordpress homepage btw). I sympathise being a nearly 40 part time working mum of only one and yet still I’m knackered! Only thing is I don’t know what Proverbs 31 woman refers to. I can only imagine from what you say, that in this case ignorance is indeed bliss! No, don’t even tell me! You’re doing a great job and yes, I’m sure it refers to things that you can achieve over a whole lifetime, if you’ve got nothing else on, that is.

    Not sure if you get an automatic link to my blog but if you’re interested I’m at http://familyshenanigans.wordpress.com/ and am currently trying to celebrate everyone’s glorious household clutter!

  2. Hi there,

    your dear husband really lifted the guilt for me on this one years ago 🙂 It was about the proverbs 31 woman being all about GRACE. Receive it and share it like crazy.

    thanks for sharing!!

  3. Thanks, Margi, I’ve been a closet “hater” of the Prov31 woman for years! Funny, I was asked to describe who/what I thought she was just recently. Somehow I was thought (deluded) to be one! Ha, ha, ha….!! Thanks for helping me come out!

    I’d much prefer to be a grace woman!

  4. Marg,

    Last year I took a graduate elective class at Dallas Seminary, Christian Education 435, “Developing & Leading Women’s Ministry,” taught by Dr. Sue Edwards (http://www.dts.edu/about/faculty/sedwards/), who has authored several books on women’s issues. Dr. Edwards is a “grace complementarian”
    (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complementarianism).

    First let me say that this class was the most inspirational (or thought-provoking) class that I had ever taken at this school!! (I even wrote a letter to Dr. Mark Bailey, the Seminary President, that he should consider “bottling” the 3-credit hour seminar as an on-line course so that Christian men would be edified.) The course addressed many of the issues that you discuss on several posts within this blog — i.e., the conflicts (Christian) women face in the expectations set by them. (I even responded to you on those respective posts with information developed from this seminary course.) As a man, I never realized how trenchant these issues were for (Christian) women, until I took this course.

    To summarize, there was one book that I had to read for this course that captured much of what I had learned. The text was by Miriam Neff and Debra Klingsporn, “Shattering Our Assumptions: Breaking Free of Expectations — Others & Our Own” (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996). Below is a summary of the book on “breaking expectations” of Christian women. The views are refreshing and are “grace complementarian.” I hope the information, below, proves edifying. Grace. Joe

    There were five principles of interest in this book. FIRST, surveys indicate that Christian women are actually suffering as a result of the conflicts they feel from church teachings and religious stereotypes about what the ideal Christian woman should be. That is, women’s lives are shaped, molded, and defined by the roles, expectations, and stereotypes that Christians carry and the colored thinking of “ought to’s,” “should do’s,” and “have to’s” (p. 101). SECOND, surveys indicate that Christian women do NOT feel adequately supported in and by their local churches (p. 34, 173-74). The so-called ‘family values’ are not family-friendly, because women have to be subordinated in marriage more in keeping with preconceived prejudices and exaggerations than by roles established by God in the Bible (p. 121). THIRD, surveys indicate that Christian women place their families ahead of their own self-interests, that is, the husband does NOT share sufficient responsibility for the health of the family unit (p. 104). However, the impetus is NOT so much as father’s neglect of the family unit (although that is a principal cause) AS MUCH AS the perceived ‘spirituality’ of the Christian women in fulfilling a perceived role designated that she must maintain (p. 104). The result is the experience of Monday through Saturday as incongruent with Sunday! (p. 180). FOURTH, psychologists and therapists provide that healthy living (for anyone) includes putting the past in some believable perspective, that is, something that we can leave behind us with some degree of comfort — in other words, we (women) cannot hang on to past hurts (p. 159). The change necessary to let go can be painful — i.e., there is no such thing as ‘painless change’ (p. 55). FINALLY, all parents need to be intentional in raising their children especially since traditional churches are NOT meeting the moral challenges of cultural realities (p. 131). Parents need to encourage their children to dream, to imagine, to widen the boundaries of what they consider possible (p. 134). In the context of these passages, children need to see gender models through very specific, though simple, ways (p. 134) — e.g., female doctors, male nurses, etc., in the context of Biblical truths.

  5. MM7 at last! Yay – great to hear about life from your perspective again… I like the concept of reading Proverbs 31 as an encouragement rather than a measurement; I’ll give that a shot.

  6. I gave up on the whole Proverbs 31 thing years ago!! And living in Haiti now, I’m glad I did. Thanks to Bill (actually thanks to God for using Bill), I am able to focus on Grace and not on perfection.

  7. Memo:
    From the desk of: Prov 31 Woman
    To: Margi and all other haters of me

    Margi, Ladies,
    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful! : – ) And productive, resourceful, hot, etc. I’ll let you in on a little secret: we have servants. Plus, my husband has 2 other wives who help out around here. One of whom irons the t-shirts (with a hot rock). The ancient world is different that way. Yes, I can do it all, but with help. So don’t beat yourself up trying to keep up with us!

    Anyways, you all should all be glad I’m here. Otherwise, How many people would think we women should be second-class citizens, weak and subservient, and all? Which ideal would you prefer? Me or June Cleaver?

    So, yes, maybe God has identified me as a composite of feminine beauty, strength and grace. But you can be all that too, with the Lord. Here’s how it works, and how it will feel:

    “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light…”
    “…consider the lilies of the field…”
    “…the peace of God that passes all understanding…”
    “…He restores my soul…”
    “…his (her) delight is in the Law of the Lord, and whatever (she) does will prosper…”

    Sincerely,
    Proverbs 31 Woman

    ps: Throw out that iron! Please, for all our sakes. Now you’re making me look bad!
    P31W

  8. You don’t know where your magnifying glass is??? I haven’t found my ironing board and iron since we moved about 9 months ago…

  9. I’ve always wondered if King Lemuel’s Mom could live up to the standard of the P31 woman. Wasn’t she the one who taught him of the excellent wife? Did she set the bar so high on purpose? When I look at the bar as a wife, it seems so very high. When I look at it as a Mom of sons looking for a wife, the bar is still very high, but I can understand a wee bit the urge to teach my sons to look and wait for that jewel, even if she can’t iron. The 30th verse is my favorite in that chapter, because I can fear the Lord on the worst of days. (on the worst of days I can crawl into his lap and cry usually). And I’m sure the earlier post from the p31 woman was giving you permission to hire a house cleaner. It’s way more fun to practice your profession and play with your kids than clean!!!
    Suzanne

  10. Folks…

    If Lemuel was King Solomon (as rabbinic tradition asserts), would the Proverbs 31 woman, in fact, be Bathsheba…?

    Grace.
    Joe

  11. What an insightful article. We all look back at our past attitudes and cringe — I once wrote a smartsy article for a Christian women’s magazine basically saying that other women slept too much and if they were like me, and only slept 6 hours a night, they could do all the things I did (and I proceeded to list them all, to my present shame.) So I contributed to the problem! Thank God that He will forget such things. And that it was before articles were published on the Internet and thus granted eternal life…..

    Latayne C Scott
    http://www.latayne.com

  12. Hey, this Prov woman makes me feel that my cancer is liberating! I’ve let my house and yard go to pot, and spent the greatest of times with family and friends. Priorities got sorted out by sheer necessity. Iron? ha! Gotta use the PhD to pay for medical bills, and to Play and Enjoy every minute I have with people important in my life.
    Don’t sweat the small stuff
    life’s too short
    pick your battles then let go of them
    hire a housekeeper
    savor every day
    I’ve never had an urge to be a pro 31 woman. Why? Who would even want to be like that?
    Take a sleeping pill at 8:00 and get some sleep dear. You are worrying way to much about measuring up to something that doesn’t exist. And ad Victoria’s Secret to your shopping list 🙂

  13. I google searched ‘I hate Proverbs 31’ and found you! Thanks,
    I admited these feeling on an
    Ask Me Anything panel and felt very alone.
    Love the comments here too! 🙂

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