Memo To: All Normal Women
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.
I 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.
When 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.
I 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.
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.