Yes, Young Woman, You Can Have it All

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I recently posted the following on Facebook:

A concerned word for moms with very little children: I did not nurse babies, corral toddlers, teach homeschool, write books, travel and speak, work, get my hair and nails done, keep up with trends, Joanna Gaines my house, and do ministry all at the same time. Neither can you. Slow down. Life isn’t a Pinterest board. #rest #thatsourcalling

I'd been thinking about a few young moms I know and wishing I could bend their ear for a moment, but the truth is, many of us in our 20's and 30's don't want to hear from the women who've gone before us. And then I really wasn't prepared for the overwhelmingly positive response, where so many of you were in agreement with my original statement. It's made me ponder the impact of such a post, especially when Cutzi commented,

I can’t stop thinking about this post...I mean, that you even have to say it. We are making ourselves sick and stressed and joyless. And in the end, probably completely unfulfilled and ineffective.

Yes, why does it need to be said? Where is all the unnecessary pressure coming from?

There isn't one source that overwhelmingly affects each of us in the same way, but I do think there are some aspects to our western (largely American) culture that factor into this mothering treadmill mentality.

1. Advertising

Here's what it's boiled down to: Company needs to sell a product or service. Company recognizes that they need to create a market. Company makes us believe we need what they're selling.

But we don't. Beyond food, water, shelter, and clothes, we don't need what they're selling. We just want it all. I have to remind myself of this way more often than I want to admit.

2. Cultural Norms

I once took my daughters to hear Condoleeza Rice speak at an event geared toward young women. It was excellent, but the overwhelming message repeated on a continual loop that day by Ms. Rice and the panel of professional and ministerial women who accompanied her, was that education is our hope.

Education is an excellent tool, but it is not our hope. It gives us options and may change our course, but it is a lousy thing to put our hope in.

And yet, a higher education is shouted at us relentlessly, and many of us begin to gauge our worth by whether or not we have a college education, a master's degree, a doctorate, and from where those degrees were earned. It isn't enough to "just" be a mom. You must have more, do more, and be more. 

At least, that's the cultural norm around here.

3. The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, the Pride

Back (waaay back) when I was in high school, the better Christian bands weren't in the mainstream. Amongst that short list was a band called The 77's, and they sang a song called "The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes, and the Pride of Life". They wrote their lyrics based on 1 John 2:16, which reads,  

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

BAM. There it is, swinging us right back to #1. What we want and what we need are two different things, and I think young women fall prey to the wants in a way that drains them dry and makes life exponentially more difficult.

One of the best things said at that event where Condoleeza Rice spoke was when one of the panelists, a circuit court judge and mother of two, was asked, "Can a woman in today's world have it all [both career and hands-on parenting]?" Her reply was dripping pure wisdom. She looked up into the enormous crowd filling the arena and said straight into her mic, "Yes, a woman can have it all. She just can't have it all at the same time."

In any stage of life, from student to young mother to mid-life, to older woman, the great challenge is to figure out what the needs are and what the wants are. They'll change as we enter new seasons and as our circumstances shake up. If we don't learn to be satisfied with where we are and recognize the beauty in each season, we'll never, never find ourselves fulfilled in any other.