“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.” –Proverbs 31:10,11-The Message
Over the years I have spent an inordinate amount of time pondering the words found in the 31st Proverb. There is a lot of pressure in these words for women who strive to be their best, whether it is in the role of wife, or mother, or both. I don’t believe the intention of this Proverb was to create pressure, but I have a tendency to obsess about all kinds of things, and this is one of them.
A lifetime ago, I was a busy young mother of twins, running a household which included a cat, a dog, and at that time, a hamster named Isabella. I found it very difficult to carve out time to even read Proverbs 31, never mind ponder its deeper meaning, so when I stumbled upon the above caricature in a magazine, I felt I could really relate to it. I wish I could remember which magazine article I cut it out of so I could give the artist proper credit, but unfortunately, I don’t. I was so deeply moved by the fact that I actually felt like the woman in the caricature, so I framed it , and it has been sitting on a desktop, or kitchen counter of my house for the last 17 years, reminding me that it is ok to feel frazzled and not quite in control of all situations.
It is laughable now, when I realize how I fretted about little things when my children were little and their problems and battles were little also. I had no idea really, about the things that were in store for me when the teenage and young adult years were to come along. In His wisdom, God has shielded us from knowing what is to come in our future, because it is true that we could not bear it if we knew.
As Mothers’ Day approaches this week-end, I find myself reminiscing about the years gone by, wondering how I could have done things differently, to spare my children and myself some of the pain and heartache we have gone through over the last couple of years. My husband and I had very set ideas of how to raise our kids, and we were very strict in many ways. We wanted to give them very clear guidelines to live in what we knew to be a very black and white world. We also wanted them to think for themselves, and to ask questions when they were unsure of the answers; confident that they would find their way in life. I did not realize that the answers to the questions they asked would be quite grey, not black or white, and I suppose this is where the conflicts began. I often joked, as my children grew into young adults, that we taught them to ask questions but I wish they came up with different answers. This, when I discovered some of the choices they made; when their choices were different from the ones I would have had them make. I also joked, that I miss the control I thought I had.
However, now that my kids are young adults and the dialogue between us is at a level that is somewhat open and honest, I am happy to say that they have both taught me a lot about acceptance and responsibility. They are not content to follow the rules of society and the norm if it hurts someone in the process; they are ready to speak out when they feel something is wrong. I wish I had been this brave at their age. I love my children fiercely and I am very proud of who they have become. I am proud of their non-conformism. I would not change them for the world, and I am grateful for all they have taught me. I would not be who I am today if it were not for lessons learned from the both of them.
I have grieved my rigidness and my mistakes in parenting, but of course, there is nothing that can be done about the past; we can only move forward: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” –Isaiah 43:18,19
I can keep striving towards the rest of the Proverb: “Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.” -v.30 – The Message
The bottom line is that I cannot do this on my own, and I have wasted too much time in trying. God is my Helper and my Comfort. I need only to breathe. The rest, as they say is up to Him.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” –Isaiah 41:13