Painting heart-cries, word by word

Putting “Good Job” to Death April 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:57 pm
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Quite unintentionally, I have become a pretty decent fan of Matt Walsh and his thoughts which he publishes at Today he posted about motherhood, and more specifically, why it is not THE (exclusionary) toughest job in the world.

The man enjoys conflict. This he readily admits.

Even so, his full post makes some hard-hitting points about the perceptions of parenthood in the United States at the moment. I appreciated the clarification that he does not detract from the difficulties and full-time commitment required in being a mother. The point about fatherhood being just as challenging as motherhood had me nodding. I nearly cheered when he touched on the dismissive attitude our culture has towards fathers in general and how debilitating that is for the entire concept of family.

But what prompted me to make a dash for my laptop keyboard was this little sentence tucked into a concluding paragraph: “One day maybe we’ll realize that parenting is designed…to be work — not a job at all, really — that is best accomplished through the harmony of husband and wife.”

Consider this. There are times—many, many times—when I am insecure about whether I am successfully fulfilling the role of mother for my children. In those moments, my wonderful husband and the amazing daddy for our children tells me, “Hon’, you’re doing a great job.” And I am a little relieved, a little disbelieving, and a little mollified that it’s probably just a skewed perspective in my head.

Now, what if the conversation ran like this:
Me: Ahh! I feel as though I’m doing a terrible job at being these poor kids’ mother! I keep making mistakes that will probably send them to lifelong counseling and I can’t DO it all with the house and the blahblahblah…freaking out…blahblah.

Husband: My dear, what you do with our children is wonderful work.

Me: *crickets* Um… Well. That is true. Regardless of how I see my abilities, it’s the kind of work that’s always worth my best. I can’t argue with or doubt that. Silly to freak out, really.

Okay, so in reality, I’m not that quick to turn my hissy fits around to rational thought. But truly, the difference between “you’re doing a great job” and “the work you’re given is great” could be the paradigm shift I need as a parent. The shift in focus is from my qualities and performance as a mom to the REASON I am doing it.

What does Galatians 6 say? “Let us not grow weary in doing good…” (vs. 9)

Hear me out because I’m learning this as I’m typing, which means I’m sharing and not teaching. I may not have this figured out yet. When it comes to the concept of hard work, I get very whiny very quickly, historically. It is something I am having to learn as an adult, having never received the joy in it as a kid or teenager.

In the past, I’ve always felt a little exhausted after reading that verse in Galatians. Maybe even falsely guilty. I do get weary of always having to choose those hard, self-sacrificing, never ending good things.

But what if I was looking at it backwards? What if it is talking about good work, not good jobs? What if work is something objectively good or bad? You can do a bad job in a good work, can’t you? That doesn’t change the nature of the work. Charity organizations are doing good work. But a badly trained CEO may run the organization into bankruptcy. Badly done job, but still within the category of good work.

Being Mom to my five kids who are home schooled and therefore hardly ever out of my minute-to-minute life can be exhausting, of course. (As can being Dad to those five kids after working a rough job every day, Mr. Walsh.) But do I really have a right to call the work of motherhood dreary? Motherhood as a calling, a kind of work, is objectively good. So rather than appealing to my husband out of my insecurities, what if I simply asked for a reminder of the truth?

I could stop being insecure about my mistakes as a mother—not stop improving, but stop beating myself up over my imperfections—and instead…

Instead, I could focus on the work.

I might raise my voice when I promised I wouldn’t, but the work of motherhood is worth an apology and doing better next time.

I might mess up dinner for my family, but the work of motherhood is worth gratitude and sometimes laughing at myself.

I might ignore my daughter’s many, many, many requests to bake something with me on a busy Saturday afternoon, but motherhood is worth listening to the pang in my heart and handing her an apron on Monday morning.

I’m not sure if I’m conveying what I saw in this difference between a job and good work, but hopefully the glimmer of truth in there has caught your eye enough to mine the rest of it yourself. There is something precious here. I intend to keep digging.


Disillusion SuperWoman April 4, 2013

I have learned something. I have shifted and I believe it goes deep.

All the while I was growing into a young woman, when I was still a child, I kept waiting for God to make plain the talent He had given me and the destiny He planned for me. I gazed with shining eyes at Olympic gymnasts who had started their path by age 4 and whispered to myself, “That will be me.” When I heard about the women’s soccer team at North Carolina and saw Mia Hamm play with such fire and agility, I whispered to myself, “That will be me.” Any time I heard a prodigy musician, read about a barrier-breaking athlete, or watched a national talent show on TV, I whispered to myself, “That will be me. I will have my amazing talent. And I will know what it is because it will come easy to me, like it does for them.”

I was able to do many things as I got older and pursued interests. I could throw pots (in the ceramic sense), draw fairly well, sing pretty well, run quickly, talk circles around most people, read like a boss, daydream like nobody’s business, and timed the recording of my favorite radio songs onto cassette PERFECTLY so there were no half-commercial gaps between songs. I even seemed to be a bit of a writer, when I put my mind to it. But not once did I discover I could play concertos on the piano by ear or make a goal from midfield with my eyes closed.

Of course I was upset for a few years because I thought I had no talent. God shook His head, half-smiling at my ridiculous and childish assumptions, and began teaching me about my non-scripted destiny.

But a much more insidious assumption was growing underneath all of that silliness.

Like most people, I have many responsibilities in this life. There are things over which God has placed me in authority–my own self, my children, my home, etc. I have been going crazy trying to keep up with these things and there are plenty of factors for why that’s been such a struggle, but one lie in particular has been crushing me under its weight. I have held the belief that I should be extraordinarily TALENTED in every area where I am RESPONSIBLE. I have been thinking it should come easier than it does.

You see? You see how debilitating that is?

I am not talented as a housewife, and that is the bald-faced truth. Lots of women may make that claim, but any of my friends, family, and especially my husband will tell you that my 6 yr old daughter is better at housekeeping than I am. I don’t say that to be self-deprecating or falsely humble. It is just true.

So every time the laundry is out of control, every time the kids spend more time cleaning up than I do, every time Eric has to come home and rescue us all from the mess, I am crushed under guilt. I let myself sink into depression. I let disappointment slice my soul until I am a tattered mess. That sounds melodramatic–again, it is just the truth.

Even when I get help, I can’t enjoy it, because I have believed I should be more than capable; I have believed I should be a TALENTED housekeeper. If I’m responsible for it and God says He’ll equip me, then what’s the problem? I listen to my friends swap organization ideas and whisper to myself, “That should be me.” I pop in unexpectedly, my friend asks me to excuse the “mess” of two toys on the floor and a laundry basket of clean clothes in the corner and I whisper to myself, “That should be me.” I listen to plans of spring cleaning, gardening, canning, sewing projects, et al, and I crawl into a ball, hide in my unmade bed with sheets that should have been washed a month ago and cry quietly, “That should be me.”

I have finally accepted it. That should NOT be me. In fact, burn the word “should,” burn it with fire, because the reality is I am not a talented housekeeper. I have to work really, really hard just to be a passable housewife (not to mention a happy one, which is all my husband really cares about). That is a fact. I want to live in that reality and be willing to accept what small progress I make.

Hey, if I’m not talented, then every victory becomes instantly huge!

~Put away a load of clean laundry in the drawers today–GOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!

~Dinner is on time and the table is set, all by 6pm–w00t, w00t! Holla at me, gurrrl!


So. Getting back to the actual point, it is a straight-up lie which I swallowed whole that you should be talented wherever you are responsible. Not true. God likes hard work (something I am still trying to comprehend, weak-willed as I can be). It follows, then, that He has no problem making us responsible for things that don’t come easy.

Armed with this epiphany, I shall only work on getting better and staying content. I don’t freak out on myself for not becoming an Olympic gymnast. I won’t freak out because I’m not Mary Poppins either. Time to disillusion SuperWoman. Time for Victoria, vessel of God’s love, to just chill already.

**I do recognize I have some talents. Everybody does, and if you think “yeah, except me” then I give you a hearty slap on the back and welcome you to this journey of discovering God is way smarter than we are. Next blog will be on talents, just to even things out. I like symmetry in my life, when possible.