She worked as a nurse for many years, some of them while she was raising six children. She suffered and recovered from a brain aneurysm when she was 42 years old. She buried one son. She tended a garden, canning fruit and vegetables each summer to store for the winter months. She baked bread, knitted and quilted.
If she’d had an Instagram account people might have called her “Supermom.”
My husband called her grandma.
She wasn’t that different from many of the other women of her generation. Both of my grandmothers worked outside of the home during various seasons of life, some of those years while raising children. They put up food for the winter months from their gardens. They knitted sweaters or sewed clothes or quilted covers for the beds.
They did these tasks out of necessity: to save money and to feed their families.
But let’s not romanticize. The WWII generation prized hard work and thrift perhaps too much at times. My aunt shares that if anyone was “caught with a book” my grandparents would quickly find him or her some work to do. “No time to sit around and be lazy” was their general sentiment. Reading wasn’t a value or priority.
So even if we’d be tempted to call them supermoms, there were many things the women of my grandparents’ generation were not doing too.
They usually didn’t throw elaborate birthday parties, go to the gym, or take their kids to play dates. They didn’t pin ideas to Pinterest, binge watch Netflix shows, or compare their life to others via Facebook.
While comparison may always be a temptation for us women, no generation before has been able to so easily get daily snapshots into the lives of others through blogs, Facebook, and Instagram. While such media outlets can create community, they are also rife with comparison. The temptation to view another mom through the “supermom” lens can happen the moment we see another woman doing something we think we don’t have time for or accomplishing something better than we are able to do.
The fact is the supermom myth has been around a long time. Perhaps it started with the mythical Proverbs 31 Woman who rises early and stays up late selling merchandise, feeding the poor, weaving clothes, and planting vineyards all while raising children and managing servants. You know, the classic woman who can balance work, home, kids, and husband while making everything from scratch.
But the Proverbs 31 Woman isn’t real and never was. It’s an acrostic poem where each verse begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. And the point of the poem is not that every woman should be exactly like the Proverbs 31 Woman in every aspect. But rather, that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised because godly wisdom and character will show itself in the various pursuits and work she accomplishes.
It is not fundamental that women make meals from scratch or be business savvy. That she effortlessly balance the workplace and the home. What’s fundamental is that we fear the Lord. If we ground ourselves in who we are in Christ, then what we choose to prioritize will flow from a place of wisdom—not comparison.
So, whether I’m a stay-at-home-working mother or a outside-the-home-working mother, whether I make homemade bread or pick up dinner at the local drive-thru, that is not fundamental. What is foundational and fundamental is my relationship with God. If I put that relationship first, He will direct the flow of my priorities.
Because the fact is Supermom doesn’t exist. And never has.