Wednesday, October 24, 2007


From all accounts, the previous generation(s) of women did things pretty differently than we do today. There were different expectations placed on them from the outside and even maybe from within themselves. For one thing, I think many of the day-to-day aspects of life--struggles and triumph--went without a lot of discussion and examination. People in general just didn't "get it all out" like we do nowadays. Our generation talks about everything, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts toward self-help and discovery. In many ways, I'm very glad that this area has changed. There is a lot more freedom of expression and respect for transparency. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we maybe "get out" a little too much. I feel almost like the effort to be honest and transparent can begin to sound contrived, thus making it counterproductive. I also wonder how far we should go in our efforts to let the truth be known about others' pre-conceived notions. FOR EXAMPLE, I was talking before in another post about my struggles with laundry, and disciplined housekeeping, etc. I really meant everything that I had to say. There were responses from several of you saying that you identify in areas of your own with this issue. I guess we can just all pat each other on the back and say "you're not alone" in this! Let's face it, the condition in which you would find my home if you came unannounced, would be VERY different than if you came invited. (truth be told, there would be days, that I would turn out the light and hide behide the drapes if I saw you coming!) But I know and have known some women that it doesn't bother them one bit, mess or no. They're just glad to have you pop in or come over by invitation, no matter what the condition of the house is! In some ways, I envy them in that. But I have digressed.

I was sharing with Julia on the phone how I know that many of the ladies I go to church with have the wrong idea about me. I mean, I do my best to "have it all together" when I go to church on Sunday morning. We "clean up real good" before heading off to the church house! We strive to do our best in our musical offerings, and in anything else that we may be part of. We expect the same from our children. And a couple of weeks ago, I had Lauren's hair in two french braids. NO BIG DEAL!! RIGHT?!? I actually had a lady say to me, that not only do I do all this music, and have four kids cleaned and ready for church, but I even do french braids! Her words: "you really are little Miss Betty Home-maker!" HA!

I guess somehow from her perspective that must be the truth. But from the standard I hold myself to, I am FAR from it. Derek thought he coined the phrase, "I'm a closet perfectionist" meaning that I hold myself to an impossibly high standard inwardly that I never meet outwardly. Yesterday I saw a book "Confessions of Closet Perfectionist", so I guess he missed his chance to gain any capital from his idea!

For all the rambling, I guess my point is this: do I have any responsibility to merge the conception of me with the reality of me? Or is it truly that we all just have different standards of what we consider "outstanding" and "perfection"? If we held everyone else to the same standard by which we judge ourselves, how would we view them? I think the lady at church must just be holding me up to her idea of "super-mom". Because in my own book, and by my own standard, I ain't no super-mom, super-woman, or super-wife. And to prove it, I'm even gonna leave that bad grammar unchecked and un-corrected! :)


Liz said...

Tara, thank you for your sweet comments! I would appreciate continued prayer. I am trusting that everything will go well now. Have fun at Y.C.! I'm so jealous! I haven't been in several years. Have fun!

jenny said...

Thanks for sharing your heart here...I think any honest mom can relate to some point of this post. In response to the lady's comment at church, you need to say Thanks! I DO really love being a homemaker!! Sometimes when I here comments like those (around here anyhow) there is an underhanded barb at the "importance" of staying at home. So, if they can dismiss me as some archaic "Miss Betty homemaker" it helps them justify their own decisions.

In regards to being a super-mom...I'm with you, I am so past that. But being the greatest mom God could make me--I've never strived harder! And I think you make a good point...sometimes transparency is a good thing on our journey and sometimes I think we need to just keep on trodding and not feel the need to "blah" it all out...especially when it's little stuff. With three friends now facing life threatening illness it's really helped me put in perspective what is worth stressing out about.

If I am going for transparency here, though, (if that's a good thing?:-) I'd have to confess I still struggle in comparing myself to the "super-moms" in my life. God is constantly teaching me the lesson of measuring myself by His standards alone.

Have a great time on your trip...I pray Reagan sleeps well for you (both at night and in the car)!

kayla said...

I've had many rambling thoughts since you posted this, so I will try to condense my reply. I think that it is impossible to merge the conception of who we are with the reality of who we are to people that are not constant in our lives. People's conception can be so relative depending on the area we live in, our living situation, or the point we are at in life. We can stay the same though all of those things, but the way people convieve us can be so different. For example, in TN I was probably concieved as having it more together than I am here, simply because the people here tend to look more put together when they come out, so it just seems normal.
"First impressions alway last" is one the most false statements I have ever heard. Many times the way I concieve someone to be, just from seeing them in social settings, is not who they are at all when I get to really know them. Jenny was so right about letting God measure us by his standard. I'm also very thankful those friends that I have know through the different stages of life, therefore I do know the reality of who they are because of the consistency they have shown over all the bumps along the way.
Hope I made sense.

kayla said...

Just a little clarification. I do think that it is possibe to always be concieved as a Christian. It's those non-eternity issues (that people judge us by so quickly) that we sometimes use as the scale for defining who we are. I'm so thankful that I only have one "Judge".

Kimberly said...

I have been thinking along these lines as well (not from a mother viwepoint)but in, Kay and Jen have said it well. What seems to be the unavoidable thing is how others "put" us in boxes/groups that perhaps we don't "belong" in!! I guess that's human nature, but completely agree w/Kay that "1st impressions" are NOT what we should put stock in! But it's strange, sometimes our choices for personal or pragmatic reasons envoke sterotypes/beliefs of others. I try to just "be the same" as much as possible...always strive to rememeber Who it is I need to please...and sometimes if possible say to someone who may be "classing" me: "Just to be clear...let me tell you where I REALLY am on that!":)
This has been rambling...but interesting thinking:)
And, for the record..don't push away all the Moms deserve it...(for that matter, maybe we non-Moms do too...:)

Have a fun weekend...I,on the other hand, am heading out shortly to play for a big Catholic wedding!.Thankfully, it pays well!:)Love Ya!

Check out this blog if you haven't seen it...i love her and it applies to your thoughts:

Cara said...

Hey Tara,

I've had a lot of trouble getting on your blog! Had to go to Sonja's blog to get your link! But here I am and I have enjoyed reading your posts. Add me to your growing list of moms and wives who identify with you in this "supermom" type of thinking. I am a perfectionist and am realizing that it is a negative thing. I always fall short of my standards. And I have found that I won't do some things because I know that I can't live up to my own expectations. I have also had the experience of talking to someone from church and finding out that I always look like I have everything together and have the perfect little family. I just want to laugh. Fortunately, I have friends who know the real me. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts--I don't have anything profound to add, but I think that I am learning that perfectionism is not healthy.

julie f said...

Oh, this is a great topic! I had a lady tell me on the phone today how she admired Robb and I's parenting, and I said to her, "Oh, if you only could have seen me yesterday!" I think we will always struggle with comparing ourselves (very unwise) and have to pray for wisdom in our lives. Just a thought; I think there is a difference in comparing and learning by watching others' mistakes and successes. I find
that I can learn much from others, but just have to be careful to not set my expectations too high.

Tara said...

Ladies, I have really enjoyed devouring your input on this post since coming home from YC. A lot of great insights. (And so good to have you 'visit' me here, Cara! Welcome!)
I love that you all brought up perspectives I wasn't even considering when I posted. Really good, Kayla, about staying the same...maybe that's part of my problem. I really don't feel like I'm always the same no matter where I am. I can speak to this from a very fresh perspective having just returned from YC; there's just no comparison to my "past" and my "present". Sheesh, for all my talk about transparency, I'm about to really open myself up here. I feel like there's a constant war raging within me over which life to live. That's not likely to be solved in this little blog discussion, but I can tell you this: I relish the times when I can be with my dear, dear friends who truly have known me through all the seasons. What a joy that is.
Kimber: also a good point on how we "class" people and use "boxes" for one another. We can't always control the boxes people put us in...and if you're like me, it can drive you CRAZY sometimes when you know someone has you in the wrong one...good or bad! :)
Julie and Jen: it surely must be one of the burdens of motherhood: not only do we have the responsibility of providing solid parenting for our kiddos, we also have the shadow of the ever-evasive "super-mom" syndrome hanging over us. And what's sadder is that moms do that to other moms! How do we get involved in that trap!?! But good thoughts from both of you about learning to glean the lessons from good parenting we observe, without becoming obsessed with measuring up to other people's standards or comparing ourselves.

This line of talk has been therapeutic for me, and I really appreciate all of your comments!