Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Supermom Syndrome vs. Suzie Q Homemaker

The Supermom Syndrome vs. Suzie Q Homemaker

Too often in life I feel the tug between the Supermom Syndrome and being Suzie Q. Homemaker. I have a strong desire to serve out in the world, but also know that I have a responsibility to fulfill, a responsibility that I choose to dedicate my life too while my children were at home. I am constantly looking for ways to streamline homemaking responsibilities at home so that I can have more time to pursue challenges outside of the home.

I have never been the kind of person that is settled doing the same thing day in and day out without variety, so you can imagine being a stay at home mom has presented a few challenges for me. However, even though this could lead me to sin, I have come to understand that God knows me, loves me, and can use me just as I am. With this revelation, I found that if I wait on the Lord to show me His will He will provide variety in my life.

There is a pitfall to watch out for. Some women want it all, the Supermom Syndrome. They want a good paying job, to be in control of their homes and children, to volunteer in the community, and to have all of these things flourish under their stewardship. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It really bothered me once to read a magazine article about this very woman. Her home was perfect, they wrote only glowingly about the kids and her relationship with her husband, and followed it up with all the volunteering she did while still balancing a full time six figure job. YEAH RIGHT! What a load of fluff. I know no one like that, and those that I know who even come close to that have an eminence amount of help from paid staff. They might as well have put her in a swimsuit and told us they touched up the photos. We must not compare ourselves to these fictional characters who help to sell magazines.

But we do compare ourselves to this fantasy created by magazine editors! We set unrealistic expectation of ourselves based on what the world says a woman should be or could be if she just put her mind to it.

It is important to remember that there are only so many hours in a day. If you aren’t careful about how much time you devote to things outside of your main ministry of being a mother and wife, if you don’t set expectations to those you answer to about your commitment to your family, and if you don’t set reasonable limitations for yourself, you could find yourself in a serious situation where you feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. You may find yourself feeling guilty and resentful of not only commitments and people outside of your home, but of those people and responsibilities inside the home as well.

I have read other blogs and self-help books that say I should be content to just be a wife and mother. I read a blog recently that gave another unrealistic point of view about being completely content and focusing only on your role as a wife and mother. The writer believes that church is a serious hindrance to these responsibilities. She used an example of a woman who was feeling an extreme amount of stress over her responsibilities in a ministry and felt like she was being pulled away from her role as a wife and mother. The solution the writer gave was to give it all up! We are to do the Lord’s work and my children need to see me working, giving, and worshiping in the church. If they don’t see a good example of this, they will not do it as adults. Eventually, there will be no one left in the church to serve or to worship. Taking oneself out of service to the church is avoiding the real problem: an unrealistic view of motherhood.

A more realistic response to this woman would have been to give her some tools on how to relieve the stress and pressure of this demanding ministry so that she didn’t have to give it up while still balancing her responsibilities at home. A lesson on time management or delegation might have been useful for her home and her ministry. A lesson on how to deal with demanding people in the church (and at home) might have saved her from the emotional warfare people tend to wage on us. There are several reasonable solutions that could help her to become a more proficient leader and homemaker, but instead the writer decided to tell her to give it all up and stay at home. Give me a break! “We’ve come a long way Baby.” NOT.

I feel like God opened these doors for a reason. He promises never to give me a test that I can’t pass. Of course I need to be thoughtful and prayerful when I take on new responsibilities, but why is it that I must stay in my home and be content with cleaning every square inch of my house? Why can’t I serve? Yes, raising my children to love God is top priority. What about some practical experience?

Every person needs to know their limits and be realistic about their schedule. It is ok to say no. It is also ok to say yes. My schedule may send some people running, and others would say, “That’s all you do?” Every person needs to take the time to prioritize their life, set realistic expectation, and then adjust the schedule accordingly. You may also need to learn some new skills or fine tune some old ones.

I have had to make adjustments to my schedule from time to time. Recently, I noted that I wasn’t really spending enough one-on -one time with my 4 year old son. He was spending the day with me, but I wasn’t giving him direct attention. I adjusted our routine a little and started making sure I spent that important time with him. It wasn’t anything to feel guilty about or to beat myself up about. It was just something I needed to adjust.

I also was just reminded by my husband that I was letting the house go a bit. Without telling you about the temper tantrum I threw because of the lack of help I get form him and the kids, because that would be too embarrassing for me, I will just tell you I sat down and came up with a new chore schedule and posted it around the house.

Does the stress ever get to me? Absolutely, but learning to deal with that stress in an effective way is preparing me for something.

Call me an over achiever if you must, but I just don’t want to miss out on all the great things God has to offer. I want to teach my children that there is more to life than what is going on in our home. How will they learn to be servers and stewards if we don’t get out in the world and serve? No, I am no superwoman nor do I want to be. I just want to serve God with my family and make the most out of this precious life he has given me. No, I am no Suzie Q. Homemaker either. I want to provide a warm loving home where God comes first and everyone knows they are loved. We can accomplish this regardless of how much time we spend in the home.

What do you do when you do find yourself in a situation where you have too much on your plate? I don’t believe that God will want me to drop my commitments in His name. I try to work on a plan that allows me to handle my responsibilities until I find the appropriate time to hand some of it off. There is an appropriate time to resign and that is at the end of a term not in the middle after just accepting or committing one’s self.

There are few items on my plate that are ongoing and not negotiable. My responsibilities as a wife, mother, and homemaker are non-negotiable. However, homemaking can be shared with everyone in the family. What homemakers need to remember is they aren’t in this life alone. They have been given husbands, children, family and friends to walk through life with. If Mom is feeling overwhelmed, it is up to the family to work through this with her, not leave her to fend for herself.

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