Moms have impossible standards today.
You’ve got experts telling you conflicting messages about how you should be mothering your kids.
You’ve got the media feeding you pictures of celebrities and models that project flawless, perfect, and timeless beauty.
You’ve got successful female executives telling you you may not be ambitious enough and feminist activists reminding you that “you can do it all” and that you have rights and opportunities we are not taking advantage of.
And yeah, we can’t forget, you either got a frenemy, mother in law, sister, or mother constantly confirming what you suspected from the start: you’re never going to get it right as a mom.
And though some of us are starting to catch on to the “society conspiracy,” sometimes we forget that it’s often not the information but what we make the information to be that can be poisonous.
Let’s discuss another icon of perfection many strive to be like, the ultimate icon of godliness and productivity, whose price is far above rubies: the Proverbs 31 mom!
It doesn’t matter whether you idea of perfection is based on secular or religious information, the truth is that you will absolutely, positively, and only one-hundred-percent of the time, ALWAYS fall short.
Don’t feel guilty if you’ve got Proverbs 31 wall hanging in your home or you’ve committed Proverbs 31 to memory, I’m not hating on Proverbs 31.
I have Proverbs 31 highlighted on my Bible and I have studied it with my daughters multiple times, and I’ve realized that just like most messages we receive, this passage can be either extremely inspirational or extremely damaging… and here’s why:
You can’t measure up.
You can’t be like her.
You can’t do it all.
But that’s a GOOD THING. I promise.
You’re not supposed to be like anyone, especially not a Proverbs 31 woman who is one man’s vision of what his soulmate is supposed to be like (and according to his mother’s expectations).
My daughters laugh so hard because I’ve always said to not even think for a second I’ll let them date young men who don’t play an instrument. It’s always been a desire of mine because I value musical talent (and the discipline and consistency required to nurture it), but that will never mean that I think a young man is “a failure” or “inadequate” or “not worthy” because they don’t play an instrument. There are many roads that lead to discipline and consistency, I just happened to illustrate it in a way they can understand because my daughters too are musicians.
The thing is, you are supposed to be You. Yourself. And YOU:
You are already who you are supposed to be right now
You can be exactly like yourself – all the time
You can do all you can do
That sounds too simple, and that’s because it is too simple; however, with your mind clouded by all the judgment and conflicted opinions out there, and your own desire to please people, this easy concept is so hard to implement!
If you’re not a celebrity mom, global executive mom, or a Proverbs 31 mom it is simply because you are not supposed to be either. You are exactly where you need to be right now and you will be exactly where your vision and your efforts will take you.
The cool thing is that you can be your own version of whatever it is that attracts you in these women you call perfect or godly. If you read Proverbs 31 with me, you will see that there are many of the Proverbs 31 moms you would love to embody but others are just not for you – they are others’ idea of what you’re supposed to be like.
VIRTUE. Who can find a virtuous woman? (Proverbs 31:10) You can, just look in the mirror! Virtuous does not mean perfect; it means having high morals or standards and that means you are a virtuous mom and you are of high worth! You are teaching your kids to develop virtues and I’m sure they wouldn’t trade you for any jewels… EVER!
TRUST. Instead of measuring whether you have a husband and whether he trusts you (Proverbs 31:11), ponder if you strive to be a trustworthy person. There are many who won’t trust you because of their own issues. You are a Proverbs 31 mom if you trust yourself. Are you honest? Do your kids feel safe with you? Yes? Then you’re good to go!
KINDNESS. So if we are real, we’d agree that no one can “do good all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12). There are some days in which we make some well intended mistakes. We do and say things that hurt others and sometimes we don’t realize it until years later, because we sometimes don’t know better and because we never get to decide what is hurtful to someone else.
Though outsiders can only measure what you DO, you can give yourself some grace in times of regret and acknowledge your kind intentions, as well as the action that didn’t go over so well. Like I say to my daughters all the time: It’s not what you do, but who you are that matters.
DILIGENCE: Proverbs 31:13-16, 18-19 is where we really feel inadequate. Lemuel’s ideal wife is like “super mom of the year!” We are given a very extensive (and exhausting) to-do list that she just crushes with such a great attitude and enthusiasm, even when we assume she doesn’t get any sleep (I personally think she goes to bed super early and she observes the Sabbath day!).
I wonder if the Proverbs 31 mom did all of this in one day, one week, or one year? No one knows, after all, she is NOT real, she’s a mother’s idea of whom her son should marry. Even if we’ve only seen merchants’ ships at the museum and our food comes from the nearest grocer, we still compare ourselves to this imaginary goddess and cry over the field we haven’t bought or planted.
If we are going to be literal, I can’t even try to be like the Proverbs 31 mom because I’m vegan, so I don’t ever give meat to my household! We frequently focus on our inadequacies, rather than focusing on what we are doing right.
I assure you you are diligent enough to be a Proverbs 31 mom, and that’s something we can all be and improve upon. And please don’t forget how much easier it is to be a homemaking queen when you have servants!
Maybe you’re wondering “what is diligent enough?” Proverbs 31:27 says to take care of your household “well” (not perfectly) and to not be idle, which means “without purpose,” so laying down because you’re overtired or taking a break because you’re overwhelmed is not being idle because it has a worthy purpose.
STRENGTH. The strength we read about in Proverbs 31:17 is one we can all claim as moms. You face great challenges with courage and gain strength and honor from them. And if we’re going literal on this one, picture yourself carrying a baby in one side, with full diaper bag on the shoulder, and groceries in the other hand, or maybe think of the times you rocked your colicky baby to sleep. I’ve had three of those, and that’s no picnic!
COMPASSION. Do you feed your children when they are hungry? Then you help the needy already – what’s more needy than a helpless infant that needs a diaper change? You are already generous, already giving, already sensitive of others’ needs.
In Proverbs 31:20 she is caring for others and in Proverbs 31:20, she is unafraid because her children are comfortable and warm, and if you don’t have an extra blanket to give away, you can give a warm hug, a warm smile, or even send warm thoughts someone’s way.
WISDOM. If you just think before you speak, you’ll embody a Proverbs 31 mom. Here’s an acronym for THINK: Is it True, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, is it Kind?
Proverbs 31:20 doesn’t say “she’s the wisest woman around,” or mentions any competition whatsoever. Here’s the literal quote: “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
The Proverbs 31 mom is wise because she’s thoughtful, because of her intention before opening her mouth (or typing!), and not because she’s an expert at everything and has all of the answers in the universe. I’m sure she strives to listen more, talk less, and to talk kindly as much as she can help it.
You can be and already are wise, so give yourself some credit!
SELF-CARE. Proverbs 31:22 tells you that this highly intimidating noble lady and perfect ideal woman “maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple,” which to me sounds like something super fancy I’ll never do.
The point here is that she is doing something for herself and she treats herself with regard without feeling guilty. This Proverbs 31 mom is expressing herself creatively and she is certainly not neglecting herself.
Proverbs 31:16 tells us she’s chosen to be a mompreneur by making linen and selling it, which is a way she turns her passion into monetary profit, but truly and really, using her creative talent is a profit in itself. Whether you decide to earn money through your own talents, skills, and creative pursuits is your choice, but Proverbs 31 is a verse you can quote if anyone wants to say it’s not godly to be entrepreneurial.
PRAISE. In Proverbs 31:23, 28-31 we see that this wealthy, privileged mom receives lots of praise – and maybe you are thinking, well there’s the proof. But here’s the thing, you do receive praise – constantly.
You don’t believe your children when they tell you “you’re the best mommy ever” and “the beautifulest” even. If you have a significant other and they pay you a compliment, you dismiss it before he’s even done. Proverbs 31 doesn’t say “other moms never judged her and always praised her both in person and on social media,” because it focuses on the praise that really matters.
Being a Proverbs 31 mom is not about being THE best, but about being your best. It is not a superiority contest, as it may seem in “thou excellest them all,” as we read in Proverbs 31:29.
Proverbs 31 presents a sample list of daily, ordinary things a noble woman, excellent wife, and positive mom does for herself and for others (within and outside of her household). See Proverbs 31 not as a superficial job description and a literal performance checklist, but as a menu of possibilities.
Stop defining your significance and worthiness based on someone else’s standards and living in someone else’s shadow.
This Proverbs 31 mom is NOT a model of what God wants you to be. You can choose to learn from her when you look at what principles she operates by and what qualities and character traits you must develop to get where you want to be – on your own terms.
You are not to be like her, or anyone else. Be your own version of the Proverbs 31 mom and call yourself blessed!
What can you learn from the Proverbs 31 mom? Share some of the qualities that make you “a woman of noble character” and a positive mom in the comments below.