-in the aftermath of mother’s day-

This year I decided to play the Mother’s Day card. Never mind that I don’t actually care about being celebrated. (Never mind that I didn’t even call my own mother on The Day to tell her what a wonderful mother she’s been to me over the years and how I can’t imagine life without her and I love that she’s such a positive part of my life and I wish there weren’t so many miles between us keeping her from being a bigger part of my life.)

Instead of calling my mother like the good daughter I wish I was, I played the Mother’s Day card with my own family: “I’m the mom. It’s my day. I get to pick what we do and we’re going to do it together.” It’s my favorite kind of card. And nobody seems to mind being bossed around, since they’re being forced to do something they all enjoy.

Except for this part. They weren’t a huge fan of posing for a photo with the woman who gave birth to them.

IMG_3838Judah is saying, “If you’ll just cooperate and smile, it’ll be over a lot faster.” I wish the same was true of childbirth.

We hiked for a couple hours, then went to Lexington so the girls could experience a mall. This was a fail. The girls told me recently that they’ve never been to a mall before. This was a weird thought to me. Walking through a mall and spiraling into a deep well of loathing for all of materialistic humanity feels like such a normal part of life. How sad that my daughters have lived 10 and 12 years without ever darkening the doors. So we took them to the mall.

After they closed.

Which we didn’t realize, because we walked into Macy’s and out into the rest of the mall. We thought it was funny that so many stores were already shut up, but… it’s a free country; they can do what they want on a Sunday evening. I was disappointed, though, that my girls weren’t getting an actual mall experience. Finally, an employee stopped us and asked how we got in. He seemed to genuinely believe that because the outside mall doors were locked, no one could get inside. Even though Macy’s was still open – and completely open to the rest of the mall. With no “closed” sign in sight. So weird. And slightly naive. And now I’m going to have to take my girls to a mall again someday because they didn’t get the true experience.

Seriously, I hate the mall. Worse than sports.

So… there’s a little piece of my day. And it’s not even what I sat down to write about.

Yesterday morning in church, we got to hear about the Proverbs 31 woman again. Not familiar with that superhero? Read about her here. She follows me around from Mother’s Day to Mother’s Day. Sometimes I think she shows up just to remind me that I’m not good enough.

Hint: Don’t click that link if you’re already feeling down on yourself. She’s kind of a teacher’s pet. She takes everything to the extreme and she gets it all right. If you try to measure up to her, you’re going to have all the joy sucked right out of your life.

It’s one of the more discouraging passages in the Bible. What if I’m not the first person up and the last person to bed at my house? What if I don’t sew my children’s clothing or piece heirloom quilts for their beds? What if I’m not up before sunrise grinding wheat and preparing food from scratch for my family? Sometimes ramen noodles and microwave popcorn feels like a major accomplishment. And that bit about buying land? Hello. I can’t even schedule a dentist appointment. Ain’t no way I’ll be buying property for my family to grow a vineyard on. Unless I can figure out a way to do it through amazon…

The thing is: there are so many ways that I fall short of being a spectacular woman. If this Proverbs 31 woman existed in the body of a single person, she’s phenomenal. I admire her. I would like to be like her in a lot of ways.

I read over this chapter every year or so, and I feel differently about it every time. Usually I look at it like a checklist. How many of these things do I do? How many of these things are realistic goals for my life? How many of these things are completely irrelevant and unrealistic for this century or this phase of my life? (She “supplies the merchants with sashes” – my Wal-Mart cashiers would love this – or at least, they’d love telling their friends about the psycho woman who tries to give them weird gifts.)

Yesterday my thought was: this woman was not doing all this stuff at the same time while simultaneously raising small children. This weekend I spent time with two different families with toddlers. Those babies were all still fresh in my mind Sunday morning as I was reading Proverbs – along with the memory of how tiring and draining the early years of child-raising are. If you’re raising young children or many children, show yourself some grace. Things will get easier. You won’t always be tired. And during this season of your life, you may feel like you’re not accomplishing anything more than raising your children.

But if raising a child is the only thing you’re getting done, guess what? It’s enough.

As I read over the great to-do list of Proverbs 31, I realize that my array of accomplishments is bigger than it was 10 years ago. I’m in the middle of a long and steady journey to becoming something better than I am right now.

And I think maybe the important thing to get out of Proverbs 31 is the idea of continual growth. These verses weren’t written here to discourage us. It’s like that verse in Matthew–  “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Am I ever going to be perfect? No. But I do have a perfect example to follow.

In the aftermath of mother’s day, as we’re scrolling through a steady stream of facebook posts memorializing beautiful mothers everywhere and the sacrifices they’ve made for their children’s health and happiness, it’s easy to feel like we ourselves are somehow less than. But the compare game is always a losing game. Don’t fall for that. Just keep doing what you’re doing without settling for mediocre.

Be the best mom you can be. It’s enough.


About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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9 Responses to -in the aftermath of mother’s day-

  1. Donna Horst says:

    I used to feel the same way about the Proverbs 31 woman…until I took the time to read and think about vs 1 of the chapter, which says that the whole chapter was and oracle King Lemuel’s mother taught him…it put a whole new spin on things for me. This is a mother telling her son what to look for in a wife. As the mother of 3 sons, I get that. These are the kinds of things to look for, not an exhaustive list where each one has to be met. A mom telling her son what kind of wife to marry – I get it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ruthie.voth says:

      I hadn’t really thought about it that way. But that does make a lot of sense. I guess we’re saying these kinds of things to our children all the time; we just don’t use Biblical language. 🙂


  2. Evie says:

    Ruthie, you are right! Listen, the Proverbs 31 gal had MAIDS. She delegated work to her maids, while being a wonderful and resourceful wife and mother. Since I put that together, I don’t agonize quite as much over what isn’t going to get done at the moment. (Ruthie, you know; you’ve been at our place during one of those moments. 🙂 And it was so much more lovely because you all were here!) I don’t want to be lazy, but I also don’t want to miss moments with the family and other things that are vitally important. I am too slow to delegate work (to our kids), and that’s something I am working on, because I truly desire to equip my kids for life. And I will confess it’s hard to ask a friend to come help, because often the ones who offer help are the “cleanies”, and super-organized ones, those whom you’re a little embarrassed to have come see your messes before they’re cleaned up. I admire those gals. But you know, God put us all together in the exact manner that He intended, for very specific reasons. And I’m good with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ruthie.voth says:

      Yes! All the rest of us are doing the work of that lady AND her maids. Although I’ve heard people say that we have our own “servants”: vacuum cleaners, microwaves, dishwashers, the internet, etc… 🙂
      There’s something beautiful about learning to be comfortable with your own level of normal. I’m always going to be more of a slob than some people, and I might as well just accept that. Take care of the important things and quit stressing out about the rest of it.
      I loved being at your home, Evelyn. I still think of that as one of the most restful vacation moments of my life.


  3. joycemoyerhostetter says:

    “Ain’t no way I’ll be buying property for my family to grow a vineyard on. Unless I can figure out a way to do it through amazon…” (LOVE that!)

    Bet the grand lady of Proverbs couldn’t write a funny, honest, and profound blog the way you do – year after year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ruthie.voth says:

      You’re the master of building-up words. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And I bet the Proverbs gal couldn’t write historical fiction either. At least I hope not. But seriously I just reread your post and saw all new stuff in it this time. Like the big bold print which went right over my head the last time.
        “But if raising a child is the only thing you’re getting done, guess what? It’s enough.”
        “Be the best mom you can be. It’s enough.”

        Liked by 2 people

  4. mplum3 says:

    Can you make sure I’m with you when you start passing out sashes to the Walmart cashiers? Please?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mennodave says:

    I realize I am kind of late in responding, but I have been thinking about it for a while. I define the Proverbs 31 woman as verses 10 through 12. All the rest are examples of what might be done. It’s like I used to think to be a good Christian I had to be a missionary, visit those in prison, visit the sick, pray 3 hours a day, read the Bible an hour a day, preach occasionally, and teach Sunday School. You get the point. Now I know I have my part to do, but I don’t have to do it all.

    Certainly there is work to be done, but it is the work the Lord has assigned to you.

    And remember: Healthy children are raised in organized chaos.


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