Anytime I see a "supermom" on t.v.--you know the kind: the ones who love all their chores and never ask their husbands for help--I feel two extremes. First, I get angry, thinking that these women are promoting an ideal that is not attainable for most women and is, frankly, unfulfilling for me. Then, I feel guilty. I should be spending more time cleaning everyday, I think. Or, does it make me a bad wife that I ask Nathan to help with Ashley's care? After all, he's gone out to work and I've stayed home all day.
Today, after seeing such a "supermom" on the Rachael Ray show, I vacillated between the extremes for a bit but then decided to think more critically. Is my anger justified? Do I think "supermoms" need liberation from the traditional role they've chosen? No. Some women choose to throw themselves into their household work as seriously as others pursue their careers. Many others balance family and career quite successfully. (I hate the term "full-time mom." I was no less of a mom when I worked, and I still maintained a clean home and cooked balanced meals.) Some stay-at-home moms, like me, love staying at home but would rather use some of the time at home not for cleaning baseboards with a toothbrush but for intellectual pursuits. And, of course, there are stay-at-home moms with neglected children and dirty homes. Every woman, and every couple and family, is different. I cannot feel angry that someone else has a different makeup and desire than I do.
What about the guilt? I'm not going to give in to it anymore. There are far too many sources of false guilt out there for women as it is, and no woman seems immune. A few times when I was working full-time and tried to make small-talk with women I'd just met, I asked, "Do you work?" "Not outside the home, but it is work," they told me. It's sad, but almost every woman feels the need to justify her choices. When I worked and someone assumed I stayed at home with Ashley, I usually made some explanation such as "My husband's in seminary full-time, so I have to work." We care too much about what other women think.
Another reason I won't feel guilty anymore is that a "supermom" is not my husband's ideal. I know he wouldn't be satisfied with an immaculate housekeeper who neglected her mind or ran herself ragged. My home is clean, my child is happy, a pregnant woman needs rest, and God gave me a personality that craves more than cookie-baking, vacuuming, and playing at the park. (And I think the same is true of most stay-at-home moms I know. I can't think of one who really fits the "supermom" profile, though they are all good moms in their own right.) Is there more I could be doing around the home, yes. Instead of feeling guilty today, I took action by vacuuming the stairs and around the baseboards. Then I baked some cookies (the kind you break off in pre-cut squares, yes, but they taste good).
I think there's a happy-medium between the two extremes I usually feel: accept who God's made me and work to improve myself where I'm not meeting up to my potential. Now, time to get a little girl up from her nap . . . .