Tag Archive | motherhood

Uni-mom and the Attack of the Facebook Clones

I haven’t written in a while, not because I have nothing to say, but because most of what I have to say seems so negative. While I created this blog as a place to write my journey and be real with y’all, it feels wrong to dump all of my worry and yuck onto a page. It’s so easy for something like that to color the way someone else sees the world.

Now, though, I’ve gotten a little distance and feel like it’s time to share. Why? Because I know I’m not the only one who goes through stuff like this, even though I often feel like it’s only me.

I know I’m not the only mom that feels like a failure. I know I’m not, but it seems like the people around me are doing so much better than I am! They get their laundry done, folded, and put away (gasp) all on the same day! My colors load is still in my washing machine. Four days later. I think… Might be longer… And their houses are always spick and span, floor boards polished even as their four-year old calmly water colors at the table and their homemade minestrone soup bubbles on the stove. They’re popping up pinterest experiments all over Facebook, taking their kids on cool excursions during the day, looking super cute, working out.

Me? I’m over here taking advantage of the baby’s nap cycle to quell the 15 billionth headache that’s spawned by me cooking up a little human inside my body. Wash? Ha. Hahaha. Right… When I’m out of underwear, #1 has no more dirty socks to wear, and the hubby’s jeans start walking on their own, that’s when it’s time to wash. Otherwise, it’s just a pile of stuff for the kids to jump in. Clothes leaves, rather than tree leaves. And I’m lucky if I’ve managed to sweep my floor once during the day, not that it’ll show. Chips and crackers and raisins are my oriental rug, yo. My one accomplishment? Home-cooked meals 3 nights out of the week. Yes, stir fry counts. So does spaghetti, thanks. It has added canned tomatoes and mushrooms and olives and stuff. Homemade. The other 4 nights? Hot dogs are healthy, right?

super-mom-thumb20813777The thing of it is, I’ve been getting so wrapped up in everything going wrong. Facebook for sure doesn’t help. At all. Instead of seeing the real story of my mom friends – the baby food on the ceiling, the kid fighting, the bills all over the table, the unmowed backyards – all we see are the good things. And that’s no bad! What is bad is that I lump all moms on Facebook into a Uni-mom. Then, it’s not “Oh, So-and-so works out and does her own nails, so cool! And look, there’s a picture of this struggle that she has. See, she’s like me: has some awesome skills and hobbies, and isn’t Miss Perfect.” It’s “Uni-mom has gone to the pumpkin patch, run a marathon through Town Lake, created an organic meal fit for a 5 star restaurant, and run a successful business! I’ve not left the house at all except to get #1 and go to HEB, my back hurts from crappy ab muscles, we eat $.88 hot dogs regularly, and I wanna just be a Netflix bum.”

What I’m realizing is that I need to give myself grace. I’m a mom, not a superhero, as much as we like to tell ourselves that we are. Am I a chauffeur, cook, maid, teacher, lover, and judge? Yes. That’s pretty super. But I’m not everything all the time. And I most certainly am not a master of it all.

I’m great at being mom. I love my kids like nothing else. I make sure they have food in their bellies, clean clothes on their backs (though maybe not their feet), and are healthy little critters. When the urge strikes, I can make awesome gourmet foods. I can do cutesy little crafts. I LOVE taking them places. And, I’m not a failure for not doing all of these things 100% of the time.

Sometimes, I will have to sacrifice in order to take care of their basic needs. Soon, I’ll be getting a job. I’ll be sacrificing time with both of them but mainly #2 because I am unwilling to let my husband take the fall and I’m unwilling to face the possibility of losing our house. I am not a failure for not being a stay at home mom. I’m not even a failure for the things I fall short on. I’m just as super for helping to carry the load, and I hope my kids see that.

I am a failure when I shut down and shut them out. When I stop caring for them and let all of my self-hating get in the way of loving for them, that’s when I’m a failure. So today, I’m giving myself a little grace. The dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. Diapers are taken out (though not yet to the trash can, since it’s 1/4 mile away – yay apartments!). The kids are clean and fed. Is my floor spotless? Nope. Are my clothes all put away? Nope. But I’m ok with that. I’m not Uni-mom, and I know that each mom out there, though we put up our best moments, our funniest slip-ups, our cutest catastrophes, has a world we hide from everyone else because we’re afraid of someone saying we’re a failure.

You’re not a failure.

You are awesome.

You are super, even though you’re not doing everything. Because you’re not doing everything.

You’ve got this.

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My Mental Nickname is Fat-Pants McGee

mirror mirrorYesterday I broke a zipper. While wearing a dress. Like, to give you the mental picture of my horror, I’d already tried to put on one dress, a beautiful pencil skirt/blouse combo dress with a creamy satin top. I nearly got stuck with it at my shoulders, and the moment it hit my hips, I knew it was going to be one of those exorcist moments when you fail about helplessly, wriggling up and down like one of those balloon men at a car dealership as you try to get it off. That straight-jacket sadness now on the bed, I grabbed my second skirt/shirt combo dress, this time with a maroon satin top. Not my favorite, but I hadn’t done wash in a while and before #2, it had been way too big. I slither and struggle my way into this one. (And let me tell you, I’m still not entirely convinced that the zipper up the skirt but stopping at the shirt is a logical idea. Take it to the armpit, people. If you can’t manage to hide that with good seams, then don’t design it.I swear I thought I was going to pop the sleeves before I EVER thought I’d break the zipper.)

After some tugging and shrugging, I got the skirt down. Blamed freshly-moisturized legs for the sticking. Grab the zipper, fully confidant that it’ll go, and – POP!

I swear to you, I nearly started to cry. Tears welled up. I nearly lost it, right then and there. Why?

Three days before, I’d gotten out of our truck at my parents to be greeted 10 seconds later by “Are you gaining weight?” Not by my mother, mind, who has decided that bikinis are no longer for me and my flubby, stretch-marked belly. This from my father. The man who is supposed to build up my (fragile now) feminine outlook. Usually, it’s “are you pregnant?”, so I’m not sure if he was trying to avoid the entire idea of another grandchild or has just started to pick up my mother’s lingo. But there it sat, heavy and horrible. Summoning my best strength, wobbly as spaghetti noodles, I lifted my chin, smiled, and said, “Yes.” Because I am. No clue why, but I am. He frowned. Closed the car door. And said, “Why?” 

No really, Dad, please punch me in the gut. It’s flubby enough that it shouldn’t hurt.

Fast-forward back to last night, and I discovered that I was too out-of-shape (and possibly too shapely) to sit up in the tub without using the sides to help. My abs, my abs, why have you forsaken me?!

And then the dress. There is nothing so terrible a sound as the pop of a broken zipper followed by the sound of the zipper undoing all. the. way. down.

I mention all of this in honest query: I work in the beauty industry. My entire life’s mission is to reveal each and every woman’s (and man’s) inner and outer beauty. I love people, and I love finding the things about them that are amazing and wonderful.

Yet here I sit, a pile of clothes on the bed that I’ve finally given up on and one of my most depressing post ever on the screen.

HOW, people, should I or any of us feel beautiful when everyone looking at us doesn’t see that beauty? When strangers on the street see our smile and our eyes and our beautiful personalities, but the people who are supposed to be our rocks – our family and closest friends – ask questions like this? I don’t mind people telling it like it is. Constructive criticism is great. Sometimes I wear dresses that are too short or too low or not cut right. Sometimes, a helpful tip like, “I love the way you look in that high-waisted dress! The flare makes your waist look tiny!” can both change my wardrobe to be more flattering and boost my ego. Why can’t we all do that instead? Compliment what we DO like and not mention what we don’t. Or find a way to mention it that doesn’t bruise our friend’s esteem. Why can’t we say, “I love your heels! But… I love you, and I’m not sure that they work the best with that dress… The pattern on it’s super cute and looks great with your skin, but the heels and the skirt together make it look a little shorter than I know you usually go.” Then, she loves her shoes more, she knows what pattern or color looks great on her, and she doesn’t feel slammed. Instead, it seems like I hear, “Ummm… So I don’t know if you realized it, but you look like a hoochy-mama in that dress. Girl, too much skin!”

Today, I’m trying to remind myself that I am beautiful. Am I the same as I was in high school? No. Am I perfect? No. Am I fearfully and wonderfully made, with a body that bears wear and tear from creating and nurturing life? Yes.

Do I have bad habits? Yes, but I’m working on it. Am I aware of the way I look? Ha. Hahaha. Who isn’t? Seriously.

If it wasn’t for the sincerity of my husband, though, I think I would have completely lost it. Not only are the HEB shelves lined with magazines telling me that my size (even at a 10) is too big, but my parents and others are shaming for the weight. People, it is time to wake up! What good does it do me or anyone to point out what I already know? What good does it do to tell any woman that she’s put on weight? I can guarantee that her clothes told her LOOOOONG before you ever noticed. Pointing it out does nothing. Well, does nothing except add fuel to the “I can’t beat this” fire. This coming from someone who has had all of the training in positive mental talk and affirmations. I can affirm myself all day long, focus on my goals, work towards them, form new habits. One careless comment, regardless of how it is meant, can seriously shake if not destroy all of that. After all, why try if everyone just thinks I’m fat? If everyone just thinks I purposely wear short skirts (that are short because the girth is greater)? If everyone assumes I’ve gotten lazy and have no work ethic? (The number of times I’ve heard THAT one are astounding.)

I know the majority of this post was one huge rant, but I am beyond frustrated with myself and with others. I hate hate HATE that those words echo in my head every time I look in the mirror. I hate that a broken dress makes me want to cry. Even more than that, I hate that I feel like a hypocrite, trying to show you guys your beauty, while hating myself.

I don’t know how to fix it other than avoiding certain people. I don’t want to do that. I don’t know how to fix any of this except to fix the way I interact with the world. My truth is that I am beautiful WITH all of my imperfections, and so are you. Everyone has room to grow and learn. Mine right now is physical growth, relearning how to take care of my body. Or, learning how to love the body I now live in. I cannot control the words of others, but maybe – JUST MAYBE – one person will read this or share it, and that one person will change the way that they talk, too. 

One person can change every single person’s life that they touch.

So, today my affirmation is “I love my body, flaws and all. I am not who I used to be. I am better. I have room to grow, and I love myself for doing it.”

Are you willing to take that challenge? Will you start listening to the words you say? To the thoughts you have about yourself and others? Because, people, our bodies change. If we can’t love them at every stage, then we will live very sad lives indeed. Bringing other people down with us in our self-hate does nothing but spread the misery. So, are you willing to bite your tongue with those snide comments, those hurtful things you say to make yourself feel better, those gossipy comments you say behind people’s backs? Are you willing to ignore the negative with the attitude that it’s something they’re changing, and focus on the positive? Are you?

 

 

** I am not in any way supporting unhealthy lifestyles. You can still love your body and image while working to make it better. And, sometimes our bodies are just fine as they are, and a focus on getting that “perfect” place is actually more unhealthy than where we were to start with.

10 Things My Mother Taught Me

10 Things My Mother Taught Me

1. Always make your bed.

2. Always clean the toilet.

3. Always brush your teeth.

4. Moisturize, even when you’re young.

5. Always pick up something to throw away, put away, or clean.

6. Always look for the new kid.

7. Always hug your parents.

8. Learn a musical instrument.

9. Never settle.

10. Learn from your mistakes.

10 things I learned from my mother.

1. Always make your bed. When the biggest thing in life is taken care of, the little things aren’t so scary.

2. Always clean the toilet. Take care of the gross stuff you’d rather avoid. Do it before the “red streaks” appear, and it won’t be so bad. Put it off, and the crap just piles up.

3. Always brush your teeth. You can look amazing on the outside, but something small like bad breath can completely ruin your image. You can look completely put together, but if your heart isn’t in the right place, none of that matters.

4. Moisturize, even when you’re young. Create good habits early. Then, it’s simple to do them later on, when they need to be done.

5. Always pick up something to throw away, put away, or clean. A clean house is a clear mind. Small things done over and over again throughout the day make it much easier to tackle the big things.

6. Always look for the new kid. Be aware of your surroundings. Remember when you were new, and reach out to new people. Be the person to stand in the gap.

7. Always hug your parents. Love never fails. Like might. Your parents will love you no matter what they do. Remember that. Someday, they won’t be there.

8. Learn a musical instrument. Music is the word of the soul. It’s connected to the mind. Learn how to express yourself, how to focus, how to coordinate yourself. Learn to appreciate the simple and complex, the classical and the classic. And, do better in math.

9. Never settle. A person is worth far more and can do far more than they ever realize. When something seems “okay,” decide to reach for “amazing.”

10. Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes happen. Learn from them, and don’t do it again. Better yet, learn from someone else’s mistake.

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Hug your mom today. Sometimes, we think they just know that we love them. Sometimes, we forget that they need a hug and an “I love you” just as much as we do.

What are some of the things your moms have taught you?

Keep Calm. You’re Beautiful.

Keep CalmI am SOOO excited for tonight! In the past few weeks, I’ve restarted my Mary Kay business (I’d taken a… *cough cough* sabbatical?) It’s been amazing! I love the products, and have no doubt that they are so worth the money. On top of that, the entire company backing it is amazing. Tonight, though, I am having my second True Beauty party, a party that I created on my own after realizing that so many women cannot stand the non-made-up woman in the mirror. Through talking with one girl, I realized something even MORE amazing about tonight’s focus, that of our true beauty without makeup: our daughters (and our sons) will see us learning to love ourselves, and will grow up loving themselves, too.

It is amazing that my job is literally to make people happy and change women’s lives. The beauty business can be so harsh, pointing out spots, wrinkles, dark circles, light eye lashes, WHATEVER they deem “imperfect.” We cannot open our computers without seeing articles like “Oh my gosh! Such-and-such Actress Stepped Outside Without Makeup!” or “Such-And-Such Actress Gaining Weight?” or “They’re Just Like Us: Look At Her Ugly Overalls!”

Seriously.

Our mothers were raised in a generation of physical perfection (whether it was the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or up). There was, of course, the free spirit movement, but the 80s (a tragic decade for makeup….) brought it back with a vengence. Is it any surprise that women today cannot look into a mirror without an ever-present little voice pointing out our flaws? “Ohh… Let’s not wear that shirt, dear. It brings attention to your baby belly.” “Oh, lord have mercy… Have you not been taking care of your skin? WHY are there so many pimples?” “Oh, those BAGS! Let’s just cover those up, shall we?”

Are we perfect people? No, most certainly not. But, we are what we are. When we learn (because we are most certainly not born) to dislike the girl in the mirror, it doesn’t just break us down. It breaks down all of those who care for us and look up to us.

Our husbands and boyfriends start to feel ignored and like their opinion doesn’t matter. They LOVE us the way we are, and our constant, “Oh, you’re just saying that because you have to,” whenever they tell us we’re beautiful is so… frustrating to them.

Our children and younger siblings look up to us as the example of what womanhood is. Our daughters learn to copy us, so all of that belly shaming and sighing and trash talk we think only we hear? Our daughters are learning to copy it. And our sons are not immune, either. Not only are they learning what to look for in a woman (which I hope they search for a self-confident, determined woman, unlike what I’ve shown them), they ALSO learn how to see themselves from us. I was horrified the day my son grabbed his non-existent tummy fat, heaved a sigh, and said, “Mom, I’m just so FAT!”

Tonight, though, I get to focus on something OTHER than the makeup. Tonight, I get to focus on the WHY behind my Kary Kay: the reality that makeup is NOT necessary, but is fun. That we, bare faced and beautiful, are worthy just as we are. That my dark circles are a symbol of my dedication to my family, and maybe a piece of my genetic past. That my freckles are something beautiful, as is my (ridiculously awesome) pale skin during winter.

Just as all of you are beautiful in your own skin. Just. As. You. Are. And true beauty comes from inside. It’s in your smile, your laugh, your kind heart. It’s in the self-confidence of knowing that you aren’t perfect, but that’s what make you YOU!

I cannot tell you guys how excited I am for tonight. Even if no one shows up, I still get the chance to change women’s lives. And in the process, I am learning to love myself again. SO MUCH TO BE THRILLED FOR! 🙂

So, Keep Calm. You’re Beautiful.

Body Issues of the Skinny Kind

Miraculously, it’s 7:16 in the morning and neither child is awake. I’m a little giddy with surprise and freedom. Freedom, I tell you! Who ever thought that 5 minutes of extra Me Time in the morning could be so liberating! I’m waking up at 6 every morning from now on! YAY! Here’s a shot of those cuties from our photo shoot this weekend.

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But that’s beside the point. Today, I read this article about letting body image go so we as moms can embrace our kids’ precious memories. As I read, I realized that I was justifying why I was reading it. Justifying! Things like, “Well, you are 18 pounds heavier than when you first got pregnant with #1″ and “Your stretch marks are pretty obvious” kept circling in my mind. “So?” you say. “We all think like that.”

Maybe you do. Unfortunately, so many people I know look at me (now) and begin skinny-shaming. Now, I understand why most people do this. It’s one of those back-handed ways of giving a compliment, while at the same time pulling yourself down. “Oh, girl! Shut up! You look wayyy better in that swim suit than I ever will!” “Ugh, will you stop complaining about your weight? Seriously! I could fit three of you into me.” I get it. Really, I do. We all have body issues.

Skinny-shaming, though, has left me feeling more than a little ashamed of my own issues. Like I’m not allowed to feel flubby and unattractive because there are fatter people out there.( There, I said it. Whatcha gonna do?) But it’s the truth! I mentally justify my feelings of inadequacy because I can’t trust someone to sympathize with them. But, this is my blog, and I’m going to just lay it all out there.

I feel fat. Why? I was 120 lbs. before I had #1. I was in the best shape of my life and felt like a million bucks. (Minus the flat chest, but heck. You take what you can get.) I am now 138 lbs. I have thighs that jiggle, a belly pouch that refuses to go away, and a bigger, floppier chest. I feel like my face is fuller than it was 5 years ago, I hate that my clothes don’t fit right, and I have finally given in to the reality that I just have to shop in the “large” section at Ross.

Sure, I’m “little.” The average American woman is a size 12. I fluctuate between a 5 and a 7. But I used to wear a 3. It’s bigger than my old “norm.” I am bigger.

I lost most of my baby weight. With #2, I topped the scales at 170. Not huge, but huge for me. I’m 6 pounds away from pre-second baby weight. But the body changes with pregnancy, and I’m not comfortable with mine.

I gained boobs. Let’s be honest, though. I LOVE my boobs while I’m nursing. After? Not so much… Push-up bras are my best friend. Anything less and my mind automatically begins singing, “Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro….” Long past are the days that I could look at myself bra-less and see those perfect twins. (TMI? Oh well…)

I’ve never had a “thigh gap” (and really, ladies, a thigh gap is not desirable…). I’ve also never had rug burn from my thighs rubbing. UNTIL now. Sometimes I love my new, shapely legs. Other times, I feel like I’ve got Jell-o for body parts.

I had a family member say, “Are you pregnant?” in all seriousness, with a touch of moderate worry for me, as I was holding #2. A week ago. That was fun.

#1 routinely asks if I have a baby in my belly. As he kneads the excess skin and fat like a baker in a bread shop. It’s just the other side of mortifying.

I’m still wearing most of my maternity shirts because nothing else fits. I feel like I’m going to be called onto “What Not To Wear: Lazy Moms Edition.” But NOTHING ELSE FITS. And part of me doesn’t want to go waste money on new clothes, because as soon as I do, I’ll probably end up pregnant again because I’ve put it off for two years, and then they won’t fit either after the new baby comes. At least maternity clothes are cute now?

I hate being around other women when we all start discussing our body issues. Mine are immediately dismissed as my attempts to get attention, but every other woman can bemoan her bigger waistline and flubbier thighs. Ladies. Let me tell you a secret: even “skinny” girls have body issues. And before you launch into the “just be happy with yourself” diatribe, look in the mirror. I’m working on loving my body. It made people. My husband is addicted to it. But I still have issues. Just like you do. So, before you go skinny-shaming me in the face of your own issues, stop. I don’t fat-shame you. (And if I do, I swear it’s on accident and I’m eternally sorry.) Let’s be friends. We can talk about our “problem areas” together, and then uplift each other. Your body is beautiful. My body is beautiful. They’re just different. They aren’t the way they used to be, and they probably never will.

I just don’t want to justify why I mourn for my old body. That’s not fair.

And now, my 5 minutes of peace is done. #1 has already dressed for his swim lessons, #2 is chatting with him through the crib slats, and my stomach tells me it’s time to make breakfast. So, off to feed the beast and enjoy a day reminding myself that I have no reason to be ashamed of the way I look now (though I could stand to lose a few for health reasons….). My mantra for today: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and I am proud of my stretch marks.

 

Pre-baby, and rockin' the Dominican coast. :)

Pre-baby, and rockin’ the Dominican coast. 🙂

An elusive shot post-#2 (and at such an unflattering angle, too!)

An elusive shot post-#2 (and at such an unflattering angle, too!)

The Atypical Child

all kidsI feel a little strange writing this, but many of my friends with children with things such as autism or ADHD or other things refer to their kids as atypical, and I kind of like it. I like how it helps define it without putting a label on it. They aren’t special in the negative way, just as typical or “normal” kids aren’t ordinary or boring because their brains or bodies function a certain way. I love that it’s the typical child, who functions as most children do, and the atypical child, whose body just functions differently.

I also love getting together with these friends, with their beautifully different little people. #1 is at that age where he notices differences, but we can talk about it and then he just lets it go. One friend has the sweetest little girl with Angelman Syndrome. She’s the sweetest thing with the biggest smile, beautiful white-blonde hair and big blue eyes. We talked before we visited about how she’s the size of a two-year old, but she thinks like #2 does, and that that’s ok. #1 listened, asked why she was like that (to which I said, “Because God made her like that, just like he made you with your angel’s kiss”), and then he just went with it. He played with her and #2 for 3 hours and treated her awesome. (Granted, there were definitely some times where he got a little sassy, but he’s only 4. I’ll let him get by with that.)

I love that. I love that, just like he doesn’t see race when he sees his teachers (his blonde teacher and his brown teacher), he doesn’t see her as being “strange” or “weird.” She’s just “different,” and he accepts that. I want him to grow up keeping that thought. When atypical kids come into his classroom at school, I want him to think, “I should go be their friend,” not “why are they weird and different?” When a student comes in who is deaf, I hope he reaches out and smiles at them rather than makes fun of their signing. When someone has Down’s Syndrome, I hope he helps them, rather than teases them. If someone has autism or a stutter or any of the other myriad things that children can have, I hope he has compassion. I hope he isn’t one of the bullies, or one of the people who just stares.

And I think that’s something we should all want for our children. If my children ever in the future have something that makes them atypical, I hope some other little boy or girl comes along and loves them as they are. I hope someone stands up for them if others bully them. I hope someone reaches out and tries to understand. And by hoping that, I will do my best to make sure my children have to skills to be that person for someone else, if they choose to.

I’m not perfect. My kids aren’t, either. I catch myself staring sometimes. I often catch myself not knowing what to say to parents with atypical kids. If you have kids with these differences, will you share with us what you wish parents or kids would say or do? Because I often find myself stumbling over my words and being all-around a clumsy example for #1. Thankfully, he is still oblivious. I can take my cues from him. And hopefully, he will keep that kind heart as he gets older.

So what are your thoughts? What do you wish your kids did? What do you wish people would do differently? Please share! 🙂

Proverbs 31 Woman: Verses 10 – 13

Proverbs 31 WomanToday, for lack of a bible study at the moment, I decided to dive back into my favorite passage in the Bible: Proverbs 31.  As a woman and a wife, I love having a passage that basically lays down the ground rules. Even more, I love how it morphs and grows every time I read it. There is always something new to learn from it! Since many of my posts have been anxious or angry lately, I thought I’d share something a little more upbeat today.

The passage starts in verse 10. The NIV Easy-To-Read version (my husband’s) says, “How hard it is to find the perfect wife. She is worth far more than jewels.” Before, I always assumed that it meant literally perfect. Like, the 50’s wives with their cute little dresses, pouty red lips, and bright smile as they vacuumed. Or, the image I had of my own mother: balancing a million things at once, being a stay-at-home mom, and always having a spotless house. That was and will always be unattainable. Perfection cannot be grasped by us here on earth, and it seemed so unfair that it was one of the requirements to being that Proverbs 31 woman.

The passage, though, notes that “the perfect wife” can be translated “a noble woman.” So what is a noble woman? Webster-Mirriam Dictionary defines noble as something or someone “of an exalted moral or mental character or excellence.” The passage isn’t calling for a perfect woman. It’s calling for a noble one! Not, “who can be the perfect wife?” but “who can be a woman of excellent moral character?” After all, the writer knows that no one is perfect. How arrogant of me to think he was asking me to be perfect. The rarity of finding a noble woman, a woman with this moral excellence,” is what makes her “worth far more than jewels.”

Verse 11-12 in the Easy-to-Read version (EtR) were a little more confusing. I decided to open up the wonderful BibleGateway, and the comparisons were really neat!

 EtR – “Her husband depends on her. He will never be poor. She does good for her husband all her life. She never causes him trouble.”
NIV – “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

NKJV – “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

The Message – “Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.”

Originally, I read the verses to literally mean “she helps him make money, and she doesn’t make any trouble.” Sounded good to me, but it seemed a little flat. After all, what about the women who are stay-at-home moms, or who are not able to work because of injury, illness, or something else? Are they then not noble women? Are they making their husbands poorer?

The other translations, however, opened up an entirely new realm of this “depending.” It isn’t just in the surface level financial trust. His poverty isn’t in the bank. It’s in their relationship. He has “full confidence.” His heart “safely trusts her.” He “trusts her without reserve.” Her worthiness of his trust brings him “no lack of gain.” He “never has reason to regret it.  How beautiful is that! How many of us can look at our relationship with our husband and honestly say that he has no reason to regret giving us his heart? I know I can think of so many times I did not honor his trust, whether it was something simple or something huge. Think about it: when my husband says I am the most beautiful woman in the world, and I brush it off with a “you have to say that” comment, I am crushing his affection, saying he doesn’t count as a man to determine beauty. Simple. When I withhold my body from him, denying that sexual aspect of his being because I’m angry/resentful/hurt/apathetic/whatever, his trust that I will nurture him is damaged. (And yes, ladies, our husbands need that just as we need relationship.) And the biggy: when I look to the appreciation of the men around me, outside of my husband, it opens the door to resentment, fear, and hurt. And that one is the big one for me, because I have incredibly low self-esteem. While I am appreciating and acknowledging my husband’s compliments and genuine attraction more than ever, I still find myself wanting to go out and be the “trophy wife” on his arm. I crave the glances, the attention of other men to feel better about myself. Not because I’m looking to go to them, and not because I want to be a tease. Purely out of unconscious need to feel like someone wants me or thinks I’m pretty. That “need” devalues my husband.

The EtR verse 12, “she never causes him trouble,” especially stuck out to me. While I am purposely trying to moderate my tendencies to seek outside approval (cursed people-pleasing self….), I am discovering a new vice: gossip. And lord oh lord, does it bring my poor husband trouble. The verse actually made me laugh out loud. I am far from a noble woman for my hubby. My mouth likes to run away, leaving icky feelings, foot-in-mouth moments, and bruised relationships in its wake. Poor husband either has to listen to my blather or has to try to piece together what my carelessness broke.

Verse 13, however, was my favorite of the bunch today.

EtR – “She is always gathering wool and flax and enjoys making things with her hands.”

NIV – “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.”

NKJV – “She seeks wool and flax and willingly works with her hands.”

TM – “She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.”

What? Are we supposed to all sit in rocking chairs and knit all day? Or should we be crafty, scouring Pinterest for the next neat thing to make with the kids or to use around the house? No.

The verses show a deeper meaning to this idea of working. This noble woman is “always gathering,” “selecting” with care, “seeking” and shopping “for the best yarns and cottons.” She is selective in what she chooses and makes sure to get the best things for her chosen career as what appears to be a seamstress. And, she takes pride in what she makes. She willingly works with her hands, enjoying what she does. So then, do I have the same outlook as she? Do I take pride in my chosen career? Do I choose the best materials? Do I take joy in the activity? I was unsurprised to discover that I don’t. In a culture where women are often pressured to join the workforce, my decision and passion to stay home with kids and take care of my household has left me feeling second-rate. I have a passion for being a housewife and mother, but I don’t take pride in my children, my husband, or my home. I am definitely not living in excellence. And that goes for any career. Do you take pride and have joy in your chosen path? If you’re a nurse, do you welcome the sunrise each day, thrilled to work with patients and co-workers? If you’re a teacher, do you eagerly grade papers, knowing the impact you’re making every day in a child’s life? If you’re a bank teller, do you give your best effort behind that counter? Whatever your job, do you value it like this? And I do mean temporary jobs as well, since sometimes we cannot do or have not discovered our “dream job” just yet. For those of us who have found what our passion is, though, do we chase after it and do it to our best ability?

I’m only four verses into this passage, and I’ve already been massively convicted. Am I striving to be a noble woman, one with a strong moral character and the desire to live with excellence? Am I protecting and nurturing my husband’s heart, so that he has a safe place to come to? Am I bringing him good things, or am I living recklessly and bringing him pain? And am I living my passion as if it’s second-rate, or am I living it passionately, proudly, and eagerly?

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s verses bring.