Friday, September 27, 2013

Can We Ladies Be Real with Each Other for a Minute?

Can we have a talk, dear ladies?  
I saw a few things this week about women having to defend the roles they have chosen in life that caught my attention and really kinda bothered me.  
Let me be the first to admit that sometimes I can be a little (or a lot) defensive of my roles in life as a woman.  Sometimes I say things about myself and I don't realize that other ladies take it to heart.  

I have seen so many posts from some women bloggers that I truly admire for their creativity, ingenuity and steadiness as they go about building lives around homesteading and focusing on their work inside their homes.  They possess traits and qualities that I really look up to and find inspirational.  

And so many times I have seen defensive posts from these same women who, while intending to convince their readers why they feel its important to do what they do, cast negative assumptions and broadly group people into the same sorts of categories they do not like.  

Homeschoolers writing about how their kids have better values and behaviors than those who go to public schools.  Religious women talking about how God instructs women to not work outside the home because the Bible refers to certain things women are to teach their families or do for their husbands.  Stay-at-home moms talking about how they wouldn't have time to spend with their children and their houses would be a mess if they worked outside the home.  Feminists talking about how religious women are throwing us back into the dark ages, how homeschooled children must be shy and reclusive, and how stay-at-home moms allow themselves to be subject to their husbands who just want to keep them bare-foot and pregnant.  Single moms talking about how married moms only do half of what they do.  Married moms talking about how the children of single moms must be lacking in role models...  
Women judging other women for not being just like them.

Within the heart of every woman I know is the desire to be thought of well by other women.  Even those ladies who project an "I don't care" attitude so often let things slip about how truly wounded they are by the judgment of other women.  Our hearts are so fragile - it is part of our makeup as women.  

Often it is women who feel so judged themselves for their choices in life (or just as often, those who regret or have self-guilt about the choices they have made) who cast judgment on others while they defend themselves.  I hear this all the time from friends, family, co-workers...women of all different personalities.  It is something I have tried to find happy middle ground on and accept when I am hurt while trying not to cast assumptions and trying not to take the successes and failures of others personally.

Now, I'm hardly a feminist - I pack my husband's lunch (its an act of love and care for me as it is for this woman), iron his shirts, and take care of most of the traditional housework.  Most pictures of me at my house are ones my husband took while I was cooking...and I usually look a lot more annoyed than this...

But I am a strong, independent woman - I don't hesitate to break out the hammer and fix things at the barn myself, climb on the roof to help fix the gutters, haul a load of scrap metal to the scrap yard, drive in fence posts by hand...or show the kids how to fly over the jump on the sledding hill...  If it needs to be done I just don't put a lot of thought into the "who should" because, well, why does it matter?

I don't even really care for the term "normal" because if there is anything life has taught me it is that every family has its own "normal".  

Not all children who go to public school are valueless heathens who have sex at an early age and fall into the pit of doing drugs and drinking at an early age.

Many women who work outside the home have beautiful houses that are well-kept even without hiring a housekeeper and manage to come home and put dinner on the table for their families and help their kids with homework - or maybe dad even steps in and shares some of this burden (or all of it) and is OK with that.

Families with two working parents do manage to spend valuable time with their children - a game of backyard baseball at dusk, crafting projects, trips to the park, family game night, attending all of their sporting events, etc.

Single moms often have very strong relationships with their kids.  And those children can often be very mature, responsible and hard-working.

Women who work outside the home are able to teach their children important lessons about values and life.  Teachers and parents of a child's friends can also set examples, serve as role models, and teach values.  That old saying "it takes a village to raise a child" can be so true.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other extended family can serve great roles for children.

Women who work outside the home are often able to juggle work responsibilities to be available for school volunteering, field trips and class parties.  

The Bible is a guide and talks a lot about where a woman should focus and priorities, but does not say that those are to be the only things within her life.  The much-celebrated wife in Proverbs is an industrious wife who realizes the values of her goods outside the home as well as making sure her families needs are well met.

The type of woman one wants to be is a choice.  Some make choices that align them with others and some make choices that are outside the box.  That does not mean that either are in the wrong.  

As long as a woman is doing her best to meet the needs of her children, spouse and family as a whole, why cast judgment?  
And if you see a woman who seems to be struggling in meeting those needs, isn't it better to offer a helping hand than a critique?
Remember the days when you grabbed your nervous friend's hand and helped her jump right in together?


lilliesinthecountry said...

Hear, hear! The anonymity of the internet these days has taken away kindness from people and it’s appalling. There are so many things ‘said’ online that wouldn’t have been whispered to another in person. So thank you for this. I’m new to this community and love the sharing and inspiration I’ve found here thus far from so many individuals with different values than mine and appreciate the eye opening outlooks. If anyone feels the need to judge, they need to reconsider the deeper reasons of why they are doing such or sharing so.

Unknown said...

Thank you! I couldn't agree more. I grow so tired of the judgmental, morally superior attitudes coming from all sides. Why look down your nose at others simply because their lives are different from yours? Isn't there enough distrust and hatred in the world? Why generate more? I would hope that women would be supportive of and wish each other well. I would hope that we would not be so fearful and reactionary that we would look at each other's lifestyle choices and instantly decide that it is inferior, or for that matter, superior to one's own. Let's cut each other a break and be willing to hear what is going on in the lives of those who may live differently from ourselves. What is the point of seeing only a reflection of ourselves everywhere we look? I can enjoy and appreciate my own life while being interested in those who aren't the same.

JC said...

Thank you for sharing such uplifting words. There are no hard and fast rules about the "best way" for a woman to nurture her family.

Helping families in crisis instead of judging them makes all of us stronger.