Super Christian Homeschooling Ninja Moms of Death

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Mother's Day is this weekend. According to the restaurant industry, it's the single busiest day of the year for most sit-down restaurants as guilty husbands and children treat mom to a freakin' break for one day. And moms deserve it, too. Most Hallmark-derived holidays are bogus to the nth-degree, but I think it's hard to argue against Mother's Day.

(And yes, I know that Hallmark didn't come up with Mother's Day. I am blaming them for Sweetest Day, though.)

On the heels of the two-part "Speed Kills the Christian Soul (1 & 2)", I feel the need to address an issue that few women are willing to discuss. Being a profound extrovert, and also not a woman, maybe I can put into words what many married Christian women today are feeling, but are afraid to say:

  1. "I'm burned out, burned up, and the ember that is my personal existence is running on fumes—
  2. —yet I have to keep up appearances."
  3. "While I will say in public—public being church—that my husband is the rock of the household, I'm the one holding our home together."
  4. "I'm petrified to admit I'm barely holding on."
  5. "I'm terrified of letting anyone else know that I question whether this is the abundant life or not."

If that's you, I have a word for you: Grace. My prayer is that you receive it abundantly.

I don't understand what we're doing to women today in the Church. The pressure to conform to a lifestyle that incorporates one part Beth Moore, one part Martha Stewart, one part Jessie Wise, and one part Salome astounds me. And don't even toss in that proverbial woman from chapter 31 that every female is told she must aspire to. That's a whole 'nother post.

Is it any wonder that so many Christian homes are struggling? What woman wouldn't struggle underneath that burden? And as I noted, as she goes, so goes the home.

Frankly, I'm angered at the expectations and the pressure to conform that many women endure. We men don't have that same burden. Yes, our lives our hectic and we're overburdened, too, but we can always opt out and claim we're "just being a guy for the day." Fire up the tube and plugin to six hours of football and no other man will accuse you of being a jerk. We'll all nod and say as one, "Yep…."

But let an Evangelical Christian woman tell her compatriots that she thinks it might be easier to send her kids to public school this year and you'll witness a shunning worthy of The Scarlet Letter.

Honestly, I wonder why there are so few married women in mental institutions today, what with all the pressure to conform they must endure. It's looks, household abilities, childrearing skills, teaching ability, and a million other lines on the checklist. Fail to tick off one and you might as well drop out of church—at least some churches.

I understand it gets worse the farther south you go. Yeah, a few tongues may wag up in Lake Wobegon, MN, but by the time you hit Atlanta, they haul out the pillories that Sherman left behind. That "Well, bless her heart!" that you hear tossed at the mom who microwaves most of her dinners and sends her kids to one of "those schools" actually means, "She's sullying the good name of motherhood."

This may be extraordinarily coarse of me to say, but I wonder if for all the talk of female empowerment we prattle on about in some sectors of the Church today, that we're not subconsciously holding out The Stepford Wives as the sine qua non of feminine existence—albeit with the additional knack for rightly dividing the Scriptures.

Too harsh? I think if we could peer at the unveiled souls of women in our churches today, we'd be surprised how many are suffering silently.

If you're a man, I want you to think about a few things. If you're insisting on homeschooling your kids but you're not carrying at least a third of that load, then you're shirking your responsibility and should perhaps give up the homeschooling idol. If you think it's okay to rush off to your cave (be it the TV room, a Christian men's group, your garage, or the Internet) after dinner at night without asking your wife how you can make her life easier before you do your own thing, then consider that you might not deserve to be married. As much talk as I hear about men being the "prophets, priests, and kings" of their household, I hear far less about being the "servant."

Tammy Wynette may have sung the line, "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman…," but countless women in our churches today are living that reality, and they're barely holding on. This week, let's find ways to strengthen their grip, not only on their daily existence, but on the Lord.

And don't just quote a Bible verse at them, either.

{Image: (Update) Travis Seitler comes through and tells me this is Donna Troy (AKA Wonder Girl), an Infinite Earths variant of Wonder Woman from DC Comics, drawn by the exceptionally talented George Perez. I should have been able to recognize Perez, as he's long been a favorite of mine. Now I'll probably be sued for using the pic, since a friend of mine wrote a book on comics and the Gospel and DC wouldn't let him use any images (though Marvel had no problems). Hey, I'm giving the attribute here, DC! The full-sized version is nicely done.}

27 thoughts on “Super Christian Homeschooling Ninja Moms of Death

  1. Sherry

    I really praise God for a husband who continually puts my good ahead of his own. I do tend to overcommit…and he lovingly tells me “No, you’re not going to do that.” I used to resent his interference – like he was trying to keep me from “acheiving my full potential”, but over the years God has shown me that my husband is there to protect me and help me to keep my priorities straight. His gentle but firm “No’s” have really helped keep me sane! I am truly blessed!

  2. Dan,

    Well said. But I think you are overstating the problem [Bill ducks].

    I live deep in the heart of Texas, and know a bunch of Christian moms (including my wife) who send their kids to public school or private school (or both, like we do).

    I’m not saying that what you’re describing doesn’t happen, but someone reading your post with no knowledge of the way things are down here might misunderstand.

    That being said, I do feel for the women who are overburdened, and expected to be everything. I know some like that (a pastor’s wife I know, although she doesn’t homeschool, she’s about to go nuts just over all the other burdens she has to carry).

    I’m not totally comfortable with your dismissal (well, not dismissal, but you know what I mean) of Proverbs 31. I mean, it’s scripture. I don’t think we should not look to it as a model/standard/goal for women, just like those passages we men deal with, such as loving our wives like Christ loved the church and being willing to lay down our lives.

    OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way – your overall point is a good one, and I think applies to men, women, and families. We’re overcommitted and need to work harder to not be that way.

    My wife and I have over the years tried to concentrate on what’s important, to the expense of other things (like a spotless house) that aren’t. But I know I’ve still got a lot to learn about this. For instance, trying to figure where blogging and blog-programming should fit in my priorities 🙂

    God bless

    bill

    • Bill,
      I’m not attempting to denigrate Proverbs 31. The issue with Proverbs 31 is that it’s not looked at within its cultural framework, nor with an eye to things that women do today that they didn’t do back then. We don’t emphasize the overlaps, nor do we play down the societal additions in the last 2500 years.

      The result is that what is not intended to be a burden is used as one. Whereas Proverbs 31 should be enough, we put other things first and try to add Proverbs 31 over the top. That takes everything over the top and the tower topples. If we removed the other stuff and let Proverbs 31 take its natural place, then everything would be fine. We tend to add it, though, and that’s not how it should be. All the stuff that’s below it should be removed and then Proverbs 31 can stand on its own.

      Does that make sense?

      • Yes, that makes sense.

        I do want to add a bit, though. I hate to keep being the naysayer here. But if you study history I don’t think there’s a woman (or man) alive who’d trade what we have now for the way life was, say, 100 or 200 years ago, when it comes to being burdened. They not only had a lot more daily-living burdens, survival burdens, health burdens, etc, but they had the burden of worry because they had very few safety nets.

        Again, Dan, I’m not disagreeing with you, necessarily, and I’m certainly not trying to bait you into an argument. But one reason people are so burdened and unhappy now is because we live with the dual dangers of a) having more options than we know what to do with and (I think perhaps moreso) b) having a victim culture.

        I marvel at the generation my grandmother came from. They blow us away when it comes to simple faith, humility, and the ability to stand strong in the storms of life.

        Again, I’m not trying to argue. I agree with your premise, but I maybe lean a little bit away from the idea (I’m not saying you’re saying this, although I get this vibe) that the current state of women is something done to them. This is all, rather, something we’ve placed on ourselves.

        For example – and I know every church is different – I hear people saying that they “just can’t share their burdens at church.” The implication, arising from the victim mentality, is that people will judge them. Sadly, too often the reality is just simple pride. Pride hidden behind the red herring of “all those judgemental Christians”. And it’s a very judgemental attitude in itself. Just this week in the singles class we teach a precious young teacher broke down and told us how hard her class has been on her this year. It was a completely beautiful thing to see our class come around her, pray for her, offer her support. It took guts for her, I think, to really be vulnerable. For anyone who claims people at church won’t listen to them I’d challenge them to just try, once. (knowing, of course, that there are certainly times when people really don’t listen. And heaven weeps).

        I long for a Christian culture wherein we are both a) modelling far better the casting of our burdens on one another and the bearing of one another’s burdens and b) casting our burdens on God. How many of us really do that? We have much to learn.

        In other words, the problem you describe is real. And anyone who knows me knows how much I value and respect Christian women (I only wish we men were as Godly as most of the Christian women I know). Yet I can’t help but wonder how some women have gotten themselves in the situations they have. Some of it is culture. But some of it is a misplaced faith in their own self-sufficiency, and a deadly abundance of pride.

        Of course, we husbands share a lot of the blame too. C’mon men, we can do better. Let’s treat our wives like daughters of the King.

        Gosh, I hate writing this comment. I feel like a naysayer and I don’t mean to be one. But this struck a chord in me, and this comment just tumbled out.

        • Bill,

          I know what you mean, so that doesn’t make you a naysayer.

          The 1950s saw the elimination of many of the categories of distinction we once held in this country. WWII had done a good job in unifying the country into one tribe. But fifty years later, tribalism is coming back to America with a vengeance. The very things you note in your post are pigeonholing us into one tribe or another. Red State/ Blue State anyone?

          Our problem is that tribalism drives this country now. It’s all about who’s in and who’s out. To be out carries with it more than simply not being up on the trend. There’s a cultural punishment that occurs too many times.

          I saw it in the business world to extremes. You don’t play golf? You don’t get promoted. Prefer to give your money to your church rather than to the office United Way drive? Kiss the fasttrack goodbye. Drive a practical used car rather than the latest Lexus? Consider yourself bound to the low end of the office hierarchy chart. Your house has to be in the right neighborhood, your kids in the right school, and on and on, or else you become one of “those” people.

          This is not to say that racism and classism at one point were non-existent, only that the tribalism we face is from people who are exactly like us in most ways. It was never that way before. Today, unified communities are disrupted by the supposed need to label people as in or out.

          In your average Evangelical church of 1950, you would probably find a decent mix of people voting Democrat. Today? Good luck. Vote Democrat and you’re shunned in a lot of Evangelical churches today.

          Same goes for the homeschooling thing. In the crowd that I run with, there’s a ridiculously high proportion of families homeschooling. In fact, in one of my small groups, EVERY family with kids homeschools. How normal is that? Well, in that tribe of middle class white folks who’ve been Christians for a while and are well-schooled and creative, that’s the norm. It’s almost an expectation. In another small group that I’m in, the trend is starting that way, too.

          Buck those trends and people treat you differently. For women, who are more relational, being at arms length because of individual choices is a tough row to hoe. I know a mom who thought it was okay for her kids to read Harry Potter books and she was driven out of a church for it by other moms who thought she had to be a closet witch or something.

          No one wants to be Cain, wandering to and fro, permanently marked and with no tribe to call his own. Yes, that tribalism comes becomes of affluence and ease, but it’s no less real, no less tough to crack, and no less hurtful.

  3. Dan

    Your comments aren’t taking linefeeds into account. My last comment wasn’t meant to be one long run-on paragraph . . . but that’s how it ended up (that being said, I can’t blame wordpress for my gramatical and spelling errors, nor my overuse of parenthetical statements).

    🙂

    • Bill,

      I dunno. Few things in WordPress work exactly as stated. I’m getting the comments e-mailed to me and they all have the linefeeds included. Don’t know what to do to fix the issue.

      I just put three LFs here. Oh well.

      • By default, WordPress converts plain-text linebreaks to “>br<>br<,” but that’s not happening here. Maybe you’ve got one of those “formatting scrubbers” installed, Dan?

      • Sadly, I located the culprit, Chris Roberts’ otherwise amazing ESV plugin. Mouseover a passage like “John 3:16” and it throws up a formatted tooltip that displays the passage. It’s the only WordPress plugin I’ve stumbled across that had me saying, “Wow.” Now, it lies deactivated. It even caused the problem in the Comments section of the WordPress Dashboard, so something was definitely up.

        I let Chris know. We’ll see. Would love to have this back. I would use it constantly and it would be a great help to not having to always quote the Bible passages I use in blockquotes, using up lots of real estate.

        Man, I really liked that plugin!

  4. Dee

    Tsk, tsk, tsk. Dan. I am trying to teach my children and their friends that saying “freakin'” and other similar words are the same as saying that other “f” word. Please set a better example!

    Otherwise, for a guy, you have stated pretty well what I am experiencing. I do not homeschool, but sometimes I think I should because I think I am a good teacher. However, being something of a perfectionist, I would drive my kids nuts! Not to mention the fact that I work full time from home in addition to assisting my husband in his work. I can’t do it all. Keeping my kids at home would mean they would have too much time unsupervised and that would give them too much time in front of the tv and video games. That would be completely irresponsible.

    Regarding the Proverbs 31 woman, it is my understanding that she did not accomplish everything soley on her own, but that she oversaw the work of others in her extended family. I can try to do all that she did, but not having extended family nor even half-grown children to assist, the bulk of the burden falls to me and to my husband (who is wonderful about doing more than his share of domestic things).

    I am surprised that I am not hearing you bash today’s Christian society for idolizing women due to influence by feminists and for penalizing men for not standing up to take their rightful place as priest and king of the home. Personally, I am glad you are not repeating this stuff because, frankly, I am tired of hearing it.

    Thanks for expressing in words the plight of women in our American Christian society.

    • Dee,

      Hey, no one’s got a cleaner mouth than me! 😉

      Yeah, there’s quite a few differences between today’s women and the Proverbs 31 woman, most notably the way the household was setup. Not too many women today have a slew of servants. That’s one big difference that’s not mentioned enough. And there’s the extended family issue, too.

      In fact, when you get down to it, our culture today is radically different than the one depicted in Proverbs 31. Yes, there are overlaps, but there are enough differences to make it hard for women today to conform exactly to that standard. I think the general ideas in Proverbs 31 that she’s industrious, betters others around her, and uses her God-given talents for the glory of God are the major points we need to remember. How that looks in your average woman’s life will look different when played out. Otherwise there’s The Stepford Wives threat that turns every woman into a Mary Kay saleslady with five kids, who sits on every board in her church, conducts eight Bible studies a week, homeschools her kids and volunteers at the homeschool co-op, uses nothing but organic ingredients in her made-from-scratch meals, and greets her husband at the door when he comes home from a long day at work wearing nothing but a mink coat (she bought with her Mary Kay money) and a smile.

  5. We’re a little more laid-back out here in Kansas, but many more women than will admit it feel the pressure, within the church, to “do it all.” Many of us have a hard time admiting that we’re struggling in some way — with our kids, in our marriages, in our walk with God. We need to have safe places to say those things. I’m on our women’s ministry leadership team and we’re trying to deal with some of this, but it’s a long-ingrained aspect of Christian life. it won’t change overnight.

    Thanks for your insight. I think your wife is blessed. 🙂
    Linda

  6. Bonnie

    Am I missing something here? I am one of those “homeschooling moms,” and I’ve realized that it is all about priorities. I put my family first, do what is best for us, and *everything* is second to that priority. Trying to conform is exactly what we are told not to do, so if it is your church that puts the pressure on, find a more biblical one. Find a place that will encourage you, teach you truth, and will not dismiss you for choosing a different approach to life. Sounds like it is our very bretheren putting shackles on us, so find a new circle.

    Why are women so concerned about pleasing others and putting on appearances? This sounds like a much deeper *spiritual* problem in the lives of women than the pressures being put on them by others. Women, rise up and take responsibility for your spiritual health. When God is real- and really sought after- everything should fall into place after that.

    (and Dan, that picture is, well, not so modest. That bit of cleavage looks great in the “full-sized version.” ;))

    • Zounds! First I get my hand slapped for using the word “freakin'” and now my choice of image is deemed “not so modest.”

      In my defense, all I can say is that’s one of the most modest-looking female superhero drawings I’ve ever seen! (Not that I spend all my time looking at female superhero drawings, mind you.)

      You Super Christian Homeschooling Ninja Moms of Death sure know how to hurt a guy!

      KAPOW!

      • “In my defense, all I can say is that’s one of the most modest-looking female superhero drawings I’ve ever seen!”

        In Dan’s defense, I must agree — and I’m an industry insider. 😉

  7. Joy

    Dan,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while & I must say, you are providing well thought-out ideas to get the rest of us thinking. Thank you!

    My original plan was to home school my daughter. I also planned to remain married to her father, continue working full-time night shifts at the hospital & move to the country to live very simply. Life intervened and nothing I’d planned turned out as I’d expected. The husband was taken out of the picture & working nights with a 2 year-old became impossible. I found a daytime position and placed my precious little girl in a daycare, something else I’d never intended to do. Seven years later, we live in a home I’ve been blessed with the ability to purchase and my daughter attends a magnet school in our community, located three blocks away from my office. She is bright, works hard and is receiving an education very similar to that which I received in the northern part of our great county over 30 years ago.

    I hear people, usually my fellow women, talk about how home-schooled children are better behaved, better educated, etc. I won’t deny that many of these children who are being educated in a responsible fashion are exactly as described above. I also know of many children who aren’t receiving appropriate, responsible educations from their parents in their homeschooling. What I’ve learned, though, is that while what is taught at school is very important, it is the involvement of the parents that is crucial to a child’s education, regardless of the type of schooling (public, private, or home) received.

    Not trying to make this into a discussion of homeschool versus other schooling, my point is that we all have to make choices about our families. We are all challenged to prayerfully consider our priorities, our options, and how to bring them together to do what is best for our families. I know that in my life, there’s no room for pride. I don’t have time for it. I am most grateful for a church family who doesn’t judge one another. We share our problems and pray for one another in a way that doesn’t bring feelings of shame to anyone asking for help. They’ve helped me to learn that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but a symbol of strength. The strength to admit to our limitations, with the comfort that God’s grace brings to those who need it.

    One day, I hope to attend graduate school & continue to help others through my profession. My daughter is watching and learning from my example of making her more important than career advancement, television or extraneous activities (regardless of how good those activities might be). She is also learning that life is full of choices and that we are not perfect. I am ever explaining the difference between a child’s mistakes versus adult mistakes. I have realized though, that as a woman and a mother, I stand a high risk of being “dogged” for my choices, one way or another. I know that, with God’s help I just have to do my best and move on. It’s all any of us can do.

    I hope I’m making sense. It’s late here…and morning will come soon.

    regards,
    Joy

  8. goatgirl

    I agree with the post, but have to mention that the Proverbs 31 woman runs a household that includes servants to manage – people who would prepare meals, run errands, and lend a substantial hand in raising the children. In our modern era I submit that the Christian wife is often expected (and usually more strongly by herself than any outside force) to perform the duties of the Proverbs 31 Woman and all the woman’s servants as well. Where the 31woman works in the marketplace and manages the household and sells the goods of the house which would be made both by herself and her servants, the modern woman expects to do the work of many. Also our houses are much bigger and take more upkeep than a stone house with a dirt or mosaic floor. When you study the historical context you begin to see that many hands were involved in keeping up the house, and families also lived multi-generational, so grandmothers, aunts, and cousins helped with managing children, housework, and cooking chores. in the modern day insular society we expect to do everything on our own. Our ‘servant girls’ may include ‘labor-saving’ devices such as dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums, etc., but don’t include multiple persons performing the work. Or helping to organize a complicated schedule.

    (P.S. i think the supermom cartoon is great and extremely modest.)

  9. Missy

    I’m 4 years late to the conversation, but I found this through Tim Challies’ blog as I was researching how bad of a mom I would be if I just can’t homeschool my 9-year-old this year. I was in tears reading this. Thank you for understanding.

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