Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm not Super Woman

At least once a week, if not more, I hear a comment like, "You must be Super Woman."  Last week, a couple at church introduced me to their daughter who had a rough and tumble 18-month old. He's a big kid, not in the chubby sense. I mean, the kid is Keagan's size and less than half his age.

"This is Mandy," the woman began. "She spoke at our women's Christmas conference."
I smiled, shook her hand, and plopped down in the seat in front of her, turning my body around to face her as I cuddled Evangeline to my chest.  "He's a cutie," I said, referring to her son.

"Thanks," she replied, "Your daughter is beautiful."

Her mother leaned over, "You know, she has four children."
"Four?" the girl questioned.
"And she homeschools," her mother continued.
"What are you, Super Woman?" the girl exclaimed.

I received the same comment a couple months ago when I a women found out I have a gaggle of children, home birth, home educate, love to bake, paint and draw in my free time, enjoy sewing, and make blogging my frequent hobby.  We were talking about books we love, to which she responded, "How do you find time to read? Are you Super Woman or somethin'?"

Why yes. Yes I am.

I mean, let's be real. I get up at 7:30 am. I go to sleep at 11:30pm.  That's 16 hours to get plenty done.  I know women who get plenty more accomplished in the same amount of time.

I'm a stay-at-home mother, so my job is to care for the home and those within it. It also means I extend charity to those outside of it, although, honestly, I don't do as much as I'd like.  This is my duty- this is my career- and I do is passionately.  It's the God-given role I've been given to fill (and one He has helped me to fill!)

That's not to say I never have days in which I feel like I hate my job. Come on now, let's be honest. To say I've never had a moment where I feel like throwing up my hands and stomping out the door would be a big, fat lie.  Everyone has days like that, no matter how pretty they paint the picture of family life.  Motherhood is difficult.  Being a mother, a good one, means that you constantly sacrifice yourself.  Now, I've read the articles telling mothers there is no need for that, but there is.   We cannot expect to live self-serving, self-centered lives and raise compassionate, loving children. 

Obviously, if I want to home educate my growing flock, then I have to make sacrifices somewhere.  Just as you make sacrifices in your spending to stick to a budget or save for a home, so you must make sacrifices in your hobbies, lifestyle, and habits in order to raise your children.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar... or a poor parent.  (Call me judgmental, but I'm simply being honest.)

I cannot tell you how many couples proclaim that having a baby will not change their lives one bit.  Oh no, they are still going to do all the things they love to do.  These are the people who are served a huge wake-up call when a needy, dependent baby is birthed into their lives.

That's not to say that a child transforms their lives, because I actually know a few couples who live as though they don't have children, and so their children spent a lot of time with nannies and babysitters. 

So yes, sacrifice is necessary in parenting.  Parenting is not sitting back and allowing someone else to do all the work or allowing your children to raise themselves.  (This is one of my major beefs with so many men today.  Numerous men have taken a back-seat to family life, and their wives... and children... need them to step up to the plate!)

A child will change your life. A child is meant to change your life.  Our relationship with our children is designed to bring forth self-less love.  It's an image of our Heavenly Father and His unconditional love for us.  In fact, I would say that you cannot really understand love in many aspects until you have children.  Having a child of your own brings out a side of love one has never known until this particular experience.  I am sure some would disagree with me, but those would be the folks who have never had kids.

I'm not quite sure what people imagine when they think of my life. Our days tend to be easy going, not strict with schedule (although we do have a loose routine).  I think people imagine all of the children gathered around the kitchen table for six to eight hours a day slaving over workbooks and reading material, when in reality, the "scheduled" part of our homeschool only takes about three hours, and it's broken up throughout the day.

So, if I spent three hours homeschooling my children, then I have 13 hours remaining to do all sorts of other things. And, I should point out that our view of homeschooling is not confined to three hours a day. We believe in discipleship schooling, something that happens every second of every day.  We are constantly teaching our children, and they are constantly learning. They just don't realize it most of the time.

Of course, all little ones love time outdoors, so we probably spend a least a couple hours a day getting fresh air. They ride their bikes, play kick ball, and doodle on the driveway with chalk making hop scotches that will wear out a tri-athlete.

Our days are spent building memories and strengthening the family bond. It's super, but it's not Super Woman.  The kids and I read books together, clean house together, dance in the livingroom to our favorite music together, play board games and card games together, create artistic masterpieces together, run errands together, cook together, eat together, laugh together, and just have a bunch of good quality time together.

This is the life of a mother- I shouldn't have hours and hours with nothing to do.  I shouldn't have hours and hours to myself on a regular basis. My life, as a mother, is supposed to be spent in a manner in which I am pouring myself out on my family- husband included.

That's not to say I don't have time to do what I enjoy. I read my bible, poke around online, talk on the phone, dig into books, and get in sewing time when my kids are napping, playing in the backyard, or off playing together on their own.  I do have a couple hours, scattered throughout the day, in which I am free to do what I want. Of course, sometimes that time will be spent deep cleaning or doing some other chore I'd rather not, but, for the most part, I get in plenty of "Mandy time", probably more than I need.  (In fact, I'm not all that thrilled with these articles stating that we all need "Me time". We need more time giving of ourselves and less time focusing on ourselves!)

All this to say that it kind of annoys me when people make comments like, "Well, you must be Super Woman!"  (I'm not sure they mean it as a compliment!)

Really? I mean, women have been doing much more than this for centuries- since the beginning of time- and I'm Super Woman? Think of the pioneer woman who didn't have a washer and dryer to help serve her.  Think of the women who worked the fields with a baby tied to the back, and still had to care for the home without the assistance of all this technology we have today.

Super woman? Me? Nope.  I'm just a mom.  And that's what moms do.


Tim and Melissa said...

This is a beautiful, very well-written post, Mandy. Hats off to you!

Angie said...

Mandy what a blessing... Most woman do not take their position of mother and wife as serious... There was a time I had 5 children under 5 years of age, most people thought I was crazy. The fact is I loved it. Loved being a mother, loved being home, loving caring for them and my beloved.. Now we are expecting our 7th baby and I could not imagine my life any other way... You are a Super Woman of God who's living out Gods will in her life, that is not easy for some...
Be blessed dear sister