Mama Knows Best

Don’t you love that headline?

Mama Knows Best?

That was the title of a blog written by my daughter today.

I’m certain she hasn’t always believed that I know best.

So, I am savoring this moment and this headline.

She sent me a list of suggestions she received in a class about how to live off a teacher’s salary. She had some concerns about some of the tips and whether she could or should  follow them, and asked my opinion.  

Here is her blog from http://theburtonbabblings.blogspot.com/

Mama Knows Best by Annie Burton
I don’t know how it happened, but since I got married, I’ve had a greater appreciation for my Mom. I find myself wanting to call her often, and get her opinions and advice on everything. She is my go- to person when I have any kind of problem I need to work out or solve.

In one of my classes, our teacher gave us a list of his top ten tips for living on a teacher’s salary. Most were pretty good tips that I agree with, but some got me worried I wasn’t cut out for the wife/mother part of my future. His suggestions included “learn to coupon,” “cook everything from scratch,” and my least favorite, “use cloth diapers.” Not to say that any of those things are bad tips– but I cannot even bring myself to think about using cloth diapers! (Even if it’s true you could save $4,000 a year. Call me high maintenance but that’s not enough to compensate for the thousands of times I would throw up.)

I’m betting I’m not alone on this based on all the blogs I’ve seen about it. For what it’s worth, here are my two cents:

I think maybe it’s part of the LDS culture to picture the perfect wives and mothers who stay at home, have their children well-dressed, orderly, and clean, and have a perfectly cooked (from scratch) meal waiting for their husbands when they get home from work. During their day, they spend hours couponing, quilting, canning, and crafting.  I guess when I got married, I had this crazy idea that once I was a married woman, all these handy skills would just naturally be bestowed upon me. Well, shockingly enough that didn’t happen. I know, I know, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now.

I told my Mom about these woes ,and here was her perfect response:

“Don’t believe for a minute there is one cookie-cutter kind of wife. Make the decision NOW that you will be you. Period. If something appeals to you, and makes sense, do it. If you only feel like you should do it because others do it, and there is some silly comparison going on, LOSE IT FAST. That’s the quickest, surest road to misery — trying to be someone you are not just to fit in with a stereotype that others try to conform to. Honestly, make a promise to yourself right now that you will live up to your best, not someone else’s. If cloth diapers and coupons aren’t your thing, liberate yourself from that expectation and do what feels right for you. The minute you feel yourself trying to be the perfect wife, mother, etc. because of perceived standards set by others, you are headed for trouble. I could go on about this forever. The adversary’s greatest tool over women is to make us feel “less than” other women. When he succeeds at that, he saps all our power. We start losing our strength, trying to become someone we are not, and then we are never happy with ourselves.”

Can I get an AMEN? Comparison has and will always be one of Satan’s greatest tools against us. Who cares that I don’t know how to make my own jam or save $100 bucks with coupons every grocery visit? I have other great strengths that I have faith will help me be perfect for my own family. And for heaven’s sake, I’ve been married not even three months yet! I’ve got plenty of time to figure out what skills I think are important for my family, and I have confidence that all isn’t lost because I don’t know how to make my own bread, yet.

I guess I should end this rant before I offend anyone because that was not my intention. I hope you blog readers get that I am seconding my mother and telling you that comparison is a terrible game to get involved in. I am far too guilty of it. If couponing excites you, and saves you money, and cloth diapers don’t make you gag, then more power to you!

My mom said it best and I second her plea and extend it to you, “I want you to be the trailblazing wife and mother just like you’ve been the trailblazing girl in every other way — cutting your own path, sticking to your standards and doing what you know is right for YOU. Please don’t start creating some ideal based on what others are telling you. WE support you no matter what, but if you start reading and adhering to all those perfection blogs written by all the couponing, trying- to- be- like- everyone- else -women, I’ll drop kick you into next week.”

Now, I must add the editorial comment that I am not slamming women who coupon. Like Annie said, good for you! My point was that Annie (and all women) should not feel “less than” because they CHOOSE to do or not to do certain things. I was trying to tell Annie that she needs to trust herself and do what’s right for her in her unique situation in life. And, she needs to forget about being like the women she reads about on a blog or the women at church who seem to have it all together, or even the teacher that created the list of tips that led to this discussion.  So what?! It’s a lie that there is only one way to be a good wife, mother or anything else in life.  And, until we learn to stop trying to be someone other than who we really are, we will  not be happy. We will never become who we are meant to be until we stop trying to live someone else’s life — especially when we know better. We really do know better. Don’t we know that if we pull back the curtain in anyone’s life it’s not quite as glamorous, easy and wonderful as it seems on the outside?
We can learn from other women, which is what smart women do. We just run into trouble when we lose touch with reality and believe every other woman’s life is dandier than ours.
(My friend, Joni, taught me to make homemade cinnamon rolls because I wanted to have that skill. That’s different than wanting to have her life, even though to me, on the outside, it looked like she was SuperWoman  if there ever was one.)
Trust me, the so-called “ideal” lives are deceptive. They are not real. Haven’t we learned that by now? And the women who spend their time trying to live up to these imaginary perfect lives are going to “run away to find themselves” one day and “find no one at home,” to quote one of my favorite authors, Joan Didion. We all need to find our own core truths, personalities, and purposes, and then align our lives with those very personal, divine compasses. That is the only way we can ever be fulfilled and happy. And, as Annie said, can I get an Amen on that? (It felt a lot like a sermon!)
Now, I’m going to scroll to the top of this lecture and reread the headline.
Mama Knows Best.
Whether it’s true is not the point.
It’s the compliment that matters.
Thanks Annie.

8 thoughts on “Mama Knows Best”

  1. LOVE this… and really needed it in particular today! Thanks to you and Annie.
    Oh and BTW, that Joni is really A SuperWoman!

    I may want to emulate you guys, but I need to be ME!!

  2. Mama not only knows what’s best for herself, but also what’s best for her marriage and her family. I hope that by doing what I thought was best for those dearest to me, I was also doing what was and is best for me. Maybe I didn’t even know what was best for me until I did what was best for them first.

  3. A BIG AMEN to Annie’s and Laurie’s blog! The fact that Annie is figuring this out already means she’s way ahead of many women who are striving to emulate that so-called perfect woman. I LOVE my best girlfriends because they may have cluttered (yes, and sometimes dirty) houses, struggle with their body image, have imperfect children and show me their “ugly” side now and then, just to name a few. When they let me see their less than perfect lives, I share mine! We laugh, we cry, we worry, we pray, we love each other for who we are – and we are all Superwomen in one way or another!

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