A pastor and his wife once hosted our family while we were traveling in England. They had two kids and stood there in church in a tight bundle that just screamed “close-knit nuclear family.” The mom was the most content woman I had ever seen.
When the pastor opened the door of their home, I quickly gave my kids the forbidding owl eyes and pursed lips that say, “Not a word!” Magazines and newspapers, puzzle boxes, and board games were stacked on every level surface and laced the walls all the way around the living room.
Even the stairs had items stacked on both sides of every step, leaving just enough free space to step in the center. Dog hair everywhere confirmed that vacuuming had been out of the question for quite some time.
The dining room table held a gigantic sugar bowl, a gallon of long-life milk, a supply of clean bowls, and maybe five boxes of assorted cereal. Dirty dishes rose in a tall row beside the kitchen door. When invited into the kitchen to be shown where we could prepare our own breakfast the next morning, I understood: there simply was no space for the dirty dishes inside.
Back in the living room, our hostess had one child in her lap and one curled up next to her, giggling. She got up only once to show us our bedrooms. It was clear they weren’t freshly made, but she gave the warmest invitation to sleep anywhere.
At the time, my daughter occasionally still needed a night diaper, and being an (un)Natural Mom, I forgot to take maximum precautions. I will admit here in writing that when she woke up to a wet bed, and I to morning sickness, I gave the damp bed one dismissive look, hugged my daughter warmly, and said, “Sweetie, it’s quite all right. Nobody will notice.”
I bagged the wet pajamas to be washed in the next town and added the damp sheets to the overflowing laundry basket. I’m convinced the loving mom of this house would have done the same thing.
Appearances can be deceiving
One could easily judge this mom. But a closer look at the stacks of apparent laziness would reveal worn-out children’s books she clearly read as many times as the kids wanted to hear them, educational toys with sticky fingerprints that told of free exploration and ample playtime, and board games with the rules scribbled on the outside, revealing that she actually cared more than one would think.
Every child’s favorite bowl was in the clean stack on the dining room table. Looking where one really should be looking—in those children’s faces—the primary evidence of their mother’s love was clear as day: They looked like purring kittens.
Remembering this home always helps me feel a little better about not being a housewife of note. I rarely cook. The counters are almost bare. My friends, upon seeing the huge stove and oven after we moved into our home, almost without exception exclaimed, “Aaaagh, what a waste!”
Finding contentment in who you are
There comes a time to face it, if you are one of us (un)Natural Mothers. Look at yourself in the mirror and think of something you can do really well, such as, I can identify seven types of garden birds. Say it out loud, followed by the bold admission “I’m not a great homemaker.” Repeat until the urge to go for choux pastry, pasta making, wedding-cake baking, cross-stitching, tailoring, and macramé classes dissipates.
I am not suggesting you intentionally try to be the opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman; rather, I advocate contentment with who you are. Then, if you choose to learn a skill that will serve your family, it will come from a place where what you offer gives life and love.
I descend from a long line of semi-natural homemakers who have each found a few worthy dishes, clothing patterns, and crafts that serve their families well. It doesn’t hurt to find at least one hot meal, one dessert, and one baked goodie you can actually produce fairly consistently, just to grant your children that essential wistfulness when they’re in college (or married to an even more clueless cook) and say, “How I miss my mom’s homemade food!”
No need to overachieve. Sincere love and an emotional haven are worth so much more than a perfect house and a gourmet meal, though at times I still wish I had it in me to provide all four.
As for those who enjoy cooking from scratch and take pleasure in seeing a piece of fabric become an outfit or decoration, their children are fortunate to have them as moms.
Copyright © 2016 Hettie Brittz. (un)Natural Mom: Why You Are the Perfect Mom for Your Kids is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Publisher permissions required to copy
Hettie Brittz describes four different types of mothers on FamilyLife Today®, and explains how each type is uniquely equipped to be the perfect mother for the child or children God has called her to raise. Hettie’s book, (un)Natural Mom, gives you permission to say that mothering doesn’t always come naturally to you.