Back when my "grandma" was raising children, she didn't know her arms were more toned than Mrs. Olsen's because they wore sleeves and didn't pin pictures of "6 Must-Do Exercises to Rid Your Arms of Flab Forever". Nor did she have a full-length mirror (or the privacy to stand naked in front of one if she had one) to analyze just how bad her cellulite was.
And yet her husband loved her anyhow, delighted in her, and loved her faithfully until his last dying breath.
"Grandma" didn't realize there were "10 Things No New Mom Can Do Without", she thought her little stash of homemade cloth diapers and the wooden cradle that her husband made were just fine for bringing home another baby. She didn't know she needed a Bumbo, a bouncer seat, a battery operated swing and a special bathtub. On that note, she missed the list of "What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag" because she had homebirths and a kettle of hot water and a heap of clean towels was all she really needed.
And yet her baby's brains and bodies developed, they adored her and grew up healthy and strong.
"Grandma" didn't know there was 101 books she had to read to her children before they were six or that she had to prepackage busy bags for her younger children to play with while she educated her older children. She didn't have to choose between 127 homeschool curricula, she just taught her children what she knew, how to read and write, how to add numbers, how plants grew, she taught the girls how to sew, cook and clean and shooed the boys out of the house to help their dad plant fields and do carpentry work or to manage the store or shoe horses. The list of Date Night ideas escaped her notice and since there was no time to get away with just her & the mister they surely also missed the "12 Mother-Son Dates" and "15 Daddy-Daughter Dates".
And yet her children knew they were loved and valued, were well educated, had good manners, made good friends and grew up to support their own families.
"Grandma" never found out what the words tablescape or gourmet meant. Until they were older her girls shared a cup and most days if they had meat to eat it was a pretty special blessing. She didn't fret over whether her grains were soaked and sprouted, the beef was grass-fed and their Omega 3s were in proper ratio to their Omega 6s. She didn't stage her house when her husband said it was time to move, she just packed up everything they owned that would fit in the wagon and hoped the next person who found their cabin & made it home would appreciate the sturdiness of the bed.
And yet her family was well-fed and healthy, close-knit and called their mother "blessed".
"Grandma" never knew her rooms would seem bigger or her ceilings higher if she painted the walls a certain color. She never knew her picture frames had to be hung a certain number of inches above her furniture or in odd numbers.
And yet her home always felt cozy, there was always warmth in the fireplace, and memories to savor.
And yet her neighbors always knew they could stop in for a cup of tea, her friends always asked for her simple recipes, her church knew they could count on her to donate homemade pies, and her extended family didn't hesitate to spend the night when the weather was too bad to ride home.
Poor Grandma, she didn't know just how much of a mess she was. She had no idea of her BMI or ideal weight, she didn't know how ill-prepared of a mom she was, she was unaware of how her children stacked up against other children in the state or country, she was incognizant about how simple and uninspiring her meals were, she was clueless about how unglamorous her home furnishings were, and she was simply oblivious to her entertaining faux pas. And gloriously blissful in her ignorance.
As I talk to other ladies about their feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction with their lives, their marriages, their bodies, their houses, their children....their very purpose in life, I can't help but think of all the things "Grandma" missed out on. I am chief among the complainers. I compare and covet. I analyze and ache. It's all just too much. I agonize over comments made on Facebook, the lack of blog readers, I Pin every possible idea to help me feed, entertain, spend quality time with, impart value to my family. I check out 10 books on the GAPS diet and vitamin deficiency along with 6 books on how to impart blessings to my family and make sure my children stay in church, and on top of that stack I add a few books on the proper colors for my home and the newest designs in home decor. Many of these things are good things to think about, the food we feed our children, the coziness of our homes, the pleasures in life are not sins and may in fact be noble. But the comparison game, the constant discontentment is just too much. A little voice in my head screams "Enough!" I want off of this ride of comparisons and inadequacy.
And yet, I know that God put me here for such a time as this. But He also calls me to come out and be separate. Not to look like the world, to put my treasure in things not of this world, to find my value in Him, to let Him be God and be His servant.
(All pictures taken by Mr. Steady or myself at Sauder Village)