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What's Happening to Women - Part 2

I'm considering this Part 2 in an ongoing series about modern women and the significant challenges we are facing with our health, our relationships, and our mindset. If you missed the first installment, you can catch it here. I'm not sure exactly where it's all going, but I'll simply keep at it until the thoughts stop flowing.

This week I wanted to explore the idea of scrambled priorities, especially for those of us who are moms. If you jump into the Way Back Machine with me to early 2020, you might recall a little episode of global insanity that sent my kids and your kids home from school, n'er to return... or so it felt. That was the year I finally had all 3 of my kiddos in public school, with my oldest in 4th grade, my middle in 2nd, and my youngest blazing his own path as a cute and curious kindergartener.

I was so proud of ME for making it to that milestone of motherhood, surviving those grueling early years, which were especially difficult for me for reasons too complex to describe here. The thought of my trio of pint-sized littles coming back home to stay...all day, every day... right after I had successfully launched all of them off into the world...Well, it sucked the living breath right out of me. What should have felt like the ultimate blessing landed more as a heavy burden. A gut punch. It all felt so unfair.

Thankfully, I've come a long way since then.

I look at my circumstances now, and it makes me so grateful that things unfolded the way they did. I wouldn't trade it for anything! Despite the abruptness of it all, it's made me appreciate this amazing privilege I've been given to spend time with my children that I otherwise wouldn't have, and it's opened my eyes to the power I wield as a wife and mother and home-maker. The title of of Full-Time Mom has also provided me an opportunity to get my priorities straight: God, Marriage, Children, Everything that order. I'm not sure where to put Health exactly. Honestly I think it's part-and-parcel with having a vibrant relationship with our Creator, because we honor Him when we care for our bodies in accordance with His design and provision, and it impacts every other part of our lives, including our relationships and the way we show up in the world.

I think the reason so many women are full of anxiety and discontent these days is that they've gotten these things out of order. Here are just four seemingly innocent and perhaps worthy pursuits that might be upsetting our hierarchy of priorities:

  1. Work - Don't get me wrong...I have no issue with women working outside (or inside) the home, and I understand that sometimes it's financially necessary. But when work begins to take precedence over the health and happiness of the family, particularly the children, it's sure to lead to unnecessary pain and struggle. Believe me, while you might love your job and think highly of your employer, you are absolutely replaceable. They will put someone else in your spot in a heartbeat. I've learned this first hand, more than once, and we all witnessed this reality during Covid. It might take them a little while, and they might have to hire 2 or 3 people to do the job you did singlehandedly, but your employer will find a way to fill your seat. But there is no one to take your place in your children's lives. They need you.

  2. Exercise - Another disclaimer here...I love exercise! We need exercise! God made our bodies to move - daily and in a variety of ways. But in our culture today, exercise has taken on a life of its own for many women, to the point where they are spending hours a day exercising, often at the expense of good sleep, solid nutrition, and proper recovery. I often tell my audience, when it comes to exercise, you have 3 considerations: Frequency, Duration, and Intensity...PICK 2. Want to exercise hard daily? Great, knock yourself out. But you must keep it short, like no more than 20-30 minutes. Prefer to go long and hard? Okay, but you can't do that everyday. And if you want to go for that long bike ride/run/swim daily, that's fine, but you can't make it intense. And when I say "you can't," I mean - you totally CAN, but just realize you do so at the expense of your own health, whether you feel that now, or a few years down the road - particularly if you are not fueling with real food and getting adequate rest. (As an aside, can you imagine your mother or grandmother spending all this time exercising? LOL! I might be older than some of you, and I come from a farming background, but I can only imagine they would think we have absolutely lost our minds to expend all that energy that they would have used to clean house, prepare meals, wrangle kids, keep up with laundry, write letters, manage farm animals, mend clothes, and have a little something left in our tanks to be a good wife, mom, and friend. I guess it's a reflection of our modern "comfort crisis" that we have to conjure up artificial physical activity that should be a normal part of our daily living.

  3. Recreation, Entertainment, and Pleasure - Yes, I'm counting that as one thing! If you're a busy mom like me, this might not apply to YOU as much as it applies to your children. Let me explain. Sometimes I catch myself believing that my job is to keep my children happily engaged in fun and whimsically novel activities all day long. During summer, they often kick off our morning with the loaded inquiry, "Mom, what are we going to do today?" And that sets my mind spinning of how I am going to entertain them until Dad gets home. But wait! It's not our job to entertain our children, or keep them constantly rushing from the pool, to practice, to piano, to the sleepover, to the movie theater, to their church activities. There's also no rule that says they require fancy vacations, or the newest iPhone, or membership on the elite travel team, or the ridiculous dessert jammed with toxicity, or their own car the same week they earn their drivers license. Moms, stop working so hard to give your kids things they don't need and might not even want, if they had the wisdom to recognize what's actually good for them. Instead, use your time and energy to teach them lifelong healthy habits: to care for their bodies with nutritious foods and appropriate amounts of restorative sleep, to appreciate the outdoors, to build meaningful relationships with friends and family in person rather than online. To read books rather than scroll the socials, to be content with simple wholesome amusements.

  4. "Freedom" - This is what was hardest for me to surrender when Covid hit and we decided to homeschool for the indefinite future. I had to make peace with the reality that I wouldn't be able to do all the things I THOUGHT I wanted to do. Turns out those things weren't that important to me or my happiness after all. I now feel so much more fulfilled laughing, learning, exploring, growing, and loving my children each and every day. It's my greatest privilege and pleasure. That being said, my husband and I make sure we arrange to get alone time on a regular basis - both individually and as a couple. So instead of losing myself, which was my fear, I'm actually discovering the person I really am and have desired to be all along!

Maybe this has encouraged you to take a closer look at your own schedule and priorities. I can't think of anything more important than creating a legacy of faith and good health for our children. How about you?

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