Much has been written about whether or not women can really have it all — a career, a family, a happy marriage, a great home. And over the years, the standards by which she’s supposed to accomplish these things keep rising. Women of my mother’s generation entered the work place. They started with jobs and those blossomed into careers. The women of my generation have upped the ante. We want to reclaim our 6 pack abs before we return from maternity leave.
Really, though, these expectations aren’t that new. Any woman who grew up well versed in the old testament can tell you about the most dreaded standard setter of all times: The Proverbs 31 Woman. Take a look at just a part of what “the virtuous woman” in the Proverb accomplishes:
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like a merchant ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family . . . She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for the task . . . her lamp does not go out at night . . . She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple . . . She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue . . . Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her . . .
So yeah, the woman earns a good income, is a great parent, dresses well, and her house looks like my Pinterest board. How does she do this? A careful reader will notice that the writer mentions twice that she doesn’t sleep. And that is probably the most important difference between myself and the Proverbs 31 Woman. I need my sleep. A lot.
Unfortunately for me, my husband’s beloved bull terrier cannot hold his bladder through the night. (Of course, if not for this, his smelliness, and his penchant for eating fine leather goods, he’d be the perfect dog.) When he whines to go out, I try to hop out of bed as quickly as possible to let him out so he doesn’t wake the entire household.
Last night I was having a particularly bad night’s sleep. I kept waking up to add reminders on my calendar, so when TCat started his whining at 3:23 this morning, I was not happy. However, I thought, “The Proverbs 31 Woman doesn’t procrastinate. She lets the dog out before the second whine.” Then I thought, “No, the Proverbs 31 Woman wouldn’t have a whiney dog. Her dog would be well behaved and probably only make noise to let people know how blessed she is.”
But this morning in the shower I had a moment of clarity. King Solomon was likely the author of the 31st Proverb. He was a man. And more importantly, he had hundreds of wives. Maybe he wasn’t the most realistic person to write about what one woman can accomplish in a day.