Balancing the demands of being a wife/mother with the demands of being a student

A question was recently posted on the e-mail group for Charis Childbirth students about how a woman can most effectively balance the demands of being a wife and mother and the demands of being a student or birth professional.

Here are my thoughts on the topic:

When we read in Proverbs 31 about the virtuous woman, it can make us feel a little inadequate.  (Before you read further, get out your Bible and read Proverbs 31:10-31 even if you have already read it before.)

WOW!  She did it all.  She was an excellent wife and mother, she spun her own thread and made beautiful clothes for her family, she fed her family gourmet foods, she woke up early and stayed up late at night working, she was a successful business woman, she was benevolent, her husband had a good reputation because of her, she had a positive outlook toward the future, she was a skilled housekeeper, she spoke with kindness and wisdom, and the list goes on.

When I first read this passage decades ago, I thought to myself, “Is all that even possible for one woman?”

Here are some things to consider when thinking about the Proverbs 31 Woman.

1.  She had a supportive, godly husband.

2.  She did not do it all in one day.  That is an account of an entire lifetime of accomplishment.

3.  She had maidservants.

Here are some valuable lessons I have learned along the way:

1. I must keep my relationship with God the highest priority in my life. Nothing should ever become more important than intimacy with God.  If it does, it is time to reevaluate and shift things around.  Our lives can be full and still keep God on the throne.  It is just about keeping Jesus at the center of all I do and hungering for Him above all else.

2. I desperately need my husband to love me “like Christ loved the Church and laid His life down for her”! (Read Ephesians 5:25-33)  I believe that is the main reason I have been so successful in all I do (as a wife, mother, teacher, minister, business woman, etc.)  My husband takes his role in our family very seriously and truly does live to see me blessed.  He has been willing to give up everything for me, but has in turn gained so much more than if he had tried to hold on to his own desires.  He is a very fulfilled man!  Without our husbands laying their lives down for us, as women we are crippled in all we do.  So, if I do not allow my husband to love me that way, I steal his blessing, I make life more difficult for myself, and as a family we are not in the center of God’s will.  That is hard for us at times because of some of the popular Christian teaching concerning women that makes it sound like our job is to lay our lives down for our husbands.  That is backwards!  Our job is to respect and honor our husbands and our husbands’ job is to love us and lay his life down for us.  When the proper order of things takes place in the home, the woman shines and the husband is fulfilled.  (Todd wrote some things about how husbands can support their birth professional wives in past Charis newsletters in a column called “The Secret Power”.)  Todd and are a team.  Everything we do, we do as a team.  Midwifery isn’t MY thing, it is OUR thing.

3. I can’t do it all today! There are seasons in our lives where we have the time and energy for certain pursuits and then there are other seasons when we do not.  In our family, we all pitch in so that things run smoothly in our household.  There are no jobs that solely belong to one person.  During soccer season when my oldest son was in high school, he had very little time to help with chores around the house because of the long hours he spent on the soccer field.  Instead of insisting that he “pull his weight” and make him do all the chores he normally did, he and I sat down together and figured out what he could realistically accomplish in a day and the rest of us pitched in to cover the rest.  Some things just did not get done until soccer season was over.  After I gave birth to my babies, however, Eric did way more than his share since I was “out of commission” for weeks.  No one in our family is exempt from serving and doing housework.  If I wasn’t homeschooling, I would have more time during the day to do all of the housekeeping, but I do homeschool and I have neither the time nor the energy to be the only one cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc.  Todd wants me to be successful in teaching my children, so he is willing to pick up the slack.  I think he does more laundry than I do.  He is also realistic about his expectations of what I can accomplish and has made “executive decisions” about things that we will live without for a season because it is more than I can do.  Now that I will most likely be starting school in January, our family has talked about the things that I will not be able to do for the next 3 years and they have all agreed that they will pitch in so that I can be successful in my studies.  You see, I can’t do everything all at the same time.  I am a great housekeeper, but there are seasons when I delegate those tasks.  I love preparing meals for my family, but I don’t do it every day.  Over the next few years, I will shine as a diligent student.  The only thing that must be mine to do every day is spend time loving on my husband and children.  Everything else can be delegated, postponed, or omitted.  The dust bunnies can wait.  At the end of my life, I believe my husband and children will make a list like the one in Proverbs 31 and it will look very impressive; but it will be a collective list, not a list of what I did every day.  If you look at my life one day at a time, it is not very impressive.

4. I need help! I think it is pride that gets in the way of our asking for help.  I learned the hard way that pride comes before a fall.  I fell hard.  Instead of admitting that I can’t do it all myself, I worked myself into a burnout when, in 2006, my adrenal glands said “we quit!”  With that scary event fresh in my memory, it is much easier to accept help from other people and I have even learned how to ASK for help.  My husband would hire a personal assistant for me (a “maidservant”) if he could afford it.  But since he can’t, instead of hiring someone, I have bartered with friends and acquaintances.  My friends and I have swapped childcare so we can have some quiet time to get things accomplished.  It is fine to ask people to help you!

5. I need a Sabbath rest! If I don’t give myself enough rest each day and a day of complete rest each week, I can’t make it.  I accomplish so much more when I take a day off each week to rest than I do if I work every day.  That means taking a day off of household duties as well as paid work and school work and even church work.  If you find that your Sundays are not restful because of church activities, then you will need to find another day of the week to rest.  Todd has become very protective of our Sabbaths and our family is doing better than ever as a result.

6. I must want to succeed! If I am honest with myself about some things, I find that I truly lack the desire to succeed in those areas.  When that is the case, I will surely fail.  A desire to succeed is the first step toward success.  If I want to be able to be a good wife, mother, and student, then I have taken a giant step toward being able to do it.

7. I must believe I will succeed! Desire alone, however, is not enough.  I must also believe I can do it!  If I don’t believe I can do it, then I will find every reason in the world I will not succeed.  As I focus on the obstacles to my success, I will have a difficult time seeing the answers to overcoming those obstacles.  Even when those answers are pointed out to me, I won’t believe the answers are for me.  If I believe I will succeed, however, then I will look past the obstacles and see the way toward success and be willing to do the work necessary to overcome the obstacles.

8. I must be willing to work hard! There is no room in a successful person’s life for laziness.  Also, I can not allow discouragement due to the difficulty of the task to paralyze me.  Anything worth having is worth working for.  It is super fulfilling to accomplish something that is not easy and requires sacrifice.

9. I need to take care of my “temple”. God has given me this body to carry me through this life on earth.  If I take good care of it, then it will take good care of me and I’ll have a much better quality of life as a result.  God gives us so many things and I believe it pleases Him when we take good care of those things.  Our bodies are no exception.  It pleases God when we are good stewards of our bodies and we get to reap huge blessings as a result.  A healthy body makes it easier to fulfill our purpose in life. 

10. I can know and trust that God, who is the one who put all these passions and gifts inside me, intends for me to walk out my calling. One way or another, he will help me accomplish what I was designed to do in a way that glorifies Him.  It brings God glory when my relationship with Him is the highest priority in my life, when my family relationships are healthy, and when I use the gifts He has given me.  He wouldn’t give the gift if He did not intend for it to be used on earth, and he wouldn’t intend for it to be used if my family and my relationship with Him had to suffer as a result.  It is, therefore, possible to be a good wife, good mother, AND a good student!

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