I was listening to a radio broadcast the other day about how to help the business world realize the value and experience of a mother. Many women take time out of the working world to raise their children and then when the kids are older, the women decide they want to reenter the workplace. Trouble is, today it is very hard to explain to employers exactly what happened in the ten year (or other) gap between employable jobs. While there is talk about how stay at home mothers aren't "just moms" it hasn't yet translated to the workplace.
There have been lots of lists made about the number of hours moms work, the various job titles and responsibilities they fulfill daily, and the equivalent salary in the working world. But it wasn't all these that jumped into my head; instead it was a passage of scripture written more than two thousand years ago. You see, there is a strong tradition in the Jewish faith of how hard working the women are, and it was so much more than making meals and bathing the children.
So here is the list from Proverbs 31, the definition of a "virtuous woman." I've taken the liberty of translating the list into modern-day equivalents, so the passage can be applied more easily to us women today.
1. Her husband husband can trust her fully, 100%.
2. All of a woman's actions toward her husband will be positive, encouraging, and of help to him in all areas of his life.
3. She works around the house busily, not idling throughout the day but always actively engaged in keeping up her house.
4. She plans healthy, nutritious meals, making sure to prepare a variety and tailors the meals to the physical needs of her family. She learns about food and its nourishing and healing properties. She seeks out the best value.
5. She gets up first in the morning to get things going, so that she has a handle on things by the time the rest of her family get up.
6. She finds ways to help in the monetary contribution to her family. She might contribute in small projects to earn money, or help in her husband's work to ease his load if it is too heavy.
7. She strengthens her body, exercising, making sure she is fit and strong so that she can endure long days of hard work, both physical and mental.
8. She is industrious in the home, looking for things she can make instead of purchase, or mend when broken. She learns how to do home repairs so that they do not have to rely on outsourcing.
9. She helps those in need, with less than she has. She prepares food, donates clothing and items no longer needed. She supports them emotionally without judgment.
10. She takes care in her appearance, dress and grooming.
11. She allows her husband time to study spiritually so that he can lead out in the home.
12. She educates herself, learning new things, keeping up on current events.
13. She stays calm, peaceable, speaking in kind tones with her family.
14. She oversees every aspect of the home.
15. She takes time to build her own faith.
I love and loathe lists: I love them because it gives me something obvious to work toward. I loathe them because they make it easy to measure failure as much as success. This is not a list I have perfected, or one that I even think I ever could. But what I take from it is that I want to have a good wok ethic and be well organized. If I am not idling time away in the day, if I am not pitying myself because of lack of sleep, I am doing well. I don't need to run myself off my feet, but instead work steadily throughout the day, moving from one thing to the next, gradually working my way through a laid-out plan, then I am doing well. If I have well-thought-out goals for myself and my family and try different ways to help us achieve those goals, then I am doing well.
I am doing well.
I am not perfect, but I am doing well.
(Some might read this and think "but what is the husband doing in all this?" Well, that is a post for another day. This is about me, from where I come from. And I should also note this isn't about a woman being less than a man, of less worth or value, or of being a servant in the home. This about about love. I love my husband and want to do all that I can for him and my family. I may not be a servant in my home, but I want to serve those I love, giving them everything I can.)